Turnout will be the key in Tuesday’s City Council races

Turnout will be the key in each of the four competitive City Council races.

With Salisbury’s 13,455 registered voters now spread across five separate election districts, only a couple thousand voters are up for grabs.

Throw in Salisbury’s historically dismal voter turnout rates and the absence of citywide mayoral contest to help drive turnout, and it’s likely that each race could be decided by just handful of voters.

This election cycle, there are two minority-majority districts in the city.

For 25 years, District 1 has been the sole minority district, and just 356 voted in that ward in 2013. In 2009, only 275 people showed up to vote.

This election, District 1 lists 2,726 registered voters. The district, comprised primarily of the West Side, is slightly larger than before, but if the historic trend of voter turnout in the 11 percent to 15 percent range continues, that means the three council candidates will be selected from votes cast by 300 people.

The new minority-majority district is District 2, with 1,974 registered voters. An 11 percent turnout there would mean just 217 coming to the polls ─ and there are four candidates on that district’s ballot. District 2 is primarily the Church Street and Doverdale neighborhoods.

Council District 3 is a wholly new district, but is expected to have a higher turnout percentage. Because two sitting council members are battling each other, with a third newcomer-candidate also participating, turnout could be in the 20-plus percent range. There are 2,533 registered voters in the district, which encompasses the neighborhoods off Riverside Drive and around Salisbury University, so 20 percent would be 506 total voters.

Another new district, District 4, will feature Salisbury’s incumbent mayor seeking a council seat. In addition to Jim Ireton, Roger Mazullo is seeking to occupy the seat in what is the only two-candidate race this year. There are 2,983 registered voters there. District 4 is comprised of Newtown and the Johnson’s Lake neighborhoods.

The 3,239 registered voters in District 5 have no challengers to consider.

Jake Day is running unopposed for mayor and incumbent Laura Mitchell has no council opponent.

Overall voter registration is down in the city, according to the Wicomico Board of Elections. In the 2013 races there were 14,174 registered voters.

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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