Low voter turnout at Grace Epiphany Episcopal Church in Mt. Airy

Midway through the day of city elections for mayor, council members and a number of other city government positions, voter turnout in Mt. Airy has been slow, according to election officials.

At Grace Epiphany Episcopal Church, at 224 Gowen Ave. in Mt. Airy, the polling place for some voters in the 8th District, 74 voters had made it out to the polls as of 10:30 this morning, after it opened at 7 a.m. The district has 651 registered voters.

“The percentage is not really good right now. Normally we have a 60 to 70 percent voting turnout rate,” said Norman Matlock, a judge of elections. Matlock said he’s worked the polls for many years and expects larger numbers later in the day. “A lot of folks in this area are retired, they don’t have anywhere to be and don’t have to get up early to go vote,” he added.

Those who did come out to vote claimed little interest in the races other than the mayoral race. Many also said they had minimal knowledge of the candidates in the other races.

“I’m not particularly informed this year, so I took my time in the booth and got info from the polls,” said Sharman Dixon, a neighborhood resident. “I didn’t hear much about on TV, or in the mail, or at least nothing that made me want to stop and listen. It didn’t seem like much of a campaign this year. I don’t even know who was running against [Mayor Michael] Nutter, but I voted straight Democrat because that’s what I am.”

Carolyn Cardinale called this year a “boring election,” but had strong feelings regarding the city’s proposal of the Budget Stabilization Fund, or “rainy day fund” – a proposal being voted on in this election.

“It’s important to have savings, just as individual people should, the city should too,” said Cardinale, who lives a block away from Grace Epiphany. “I also think we need to clean up excess. I’ve heard Mayor Nutter has more staff than any other administration, and I’m tired of the same old politics.”

One contested issue for many voters was the Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) that Mayor Nutter has said he plans to end. The program allows city workers to receive salary while accumulating a retirement bonus during their last four years of employment.

“The DROP program is not right, and it’s unfair to the public,” Jo Watts said. “We’re being robbed by people who are supposed to be public servants, it’s just not right.”

The polls will close throughout the city at 8 p.m.

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