By Sarrah Peters/News Editor
On Tuesday, January 22, Gadsden voters decided to take the city’s school board from appointed members to elected members.
Voting turnout was low, with less than 2,000 votes cast. 1.244 votes were cast in favor of changing the board, while 562 voted against the changes.
At a Wednesday city council meeting, council members expressed disappointment about the low turnout for the vote.
Council member Ben Reed said that he was disappointed that out of about 20,000 registered, only about nine percent of voters made the decision for the city.
“That’s less than 2,000 people that voted,” said council member Cynthia Toles. “That’s a shame for one, but that’s what we have. We have a right for them to vote, and I’m glad that it happened. We have overcome. It is now in the hands of the citizens.”
The Gadsden City Council also discussed getting the school board election underway “as soon as possible,” but cited several laws that will postpone the vote for several months. The city is required, by law, to advertise the election for 60 days and to hold the vote on the second or fourth Tuesday of the month. City Clerk Iva Nelson said that she would research the timeline needed to ensure candidates are given time to qualify for office. Council member Johnny Cannon said that he did not expect the election to take place until at least May.
Dr. Toles encouraged citizens to get involved. Those interested in running for the Gadsden City School Board must be over the age of 21, live in the district they wish to represent for over a year prior to qualifying and have no record of conviction for crimes involving moral turpitude.
Once elected, the board will serve until 2022 and elections will be held every four years after the initial term ends.