Demopolis mayoral race hotly contested

While all municipal elections are important, this particular balloting seems to take on added urgency given the undeniable ineptitude of the Demopolis City Council over the last several months.

The races in Districts 1, 2, 3 and 5 along with the mayoral race will greatly shape the direction of the City of the People over the next four years.  What has long been a 3-3 deadlock within the city council over virtually every key issue has the promise of swinging in favor of one side or the other following the Aug. 28 voting.

District 1 is a race of particular interest given that it is the only segment of the city guaranteed to see a new city councilman.  After two decades on the council, Thomas Moore elected not to run.  His absence from the ballot clears the way for either Charles Jones Jr., Robert Shepherd or Grace Clayton Motley to fill the seat.

District 2 will see incumbent Mitchell Congress attempt to hold his seat against Nathan Hardy while District 3 sees Melvin Yelverton seeking a third term against D. Harris Nelson.

Those two races are key as Congress and Yelverton have frequently voted together during the current city council term.  Should Congress and Yelverton hold their seats – pending the winners in District 1 and the mayoral races – it becomes increasingly likely that a 4-2 majority could emerge in many major issues.

But the city council races, while important, pale in comparison to what is materializing in the mayor’s race.  What initially seemed a likely win for incumbent mayor Mike Grayson is looking more and more like a dead heat.

Challenger Don Singleton is running a grassroots campaign that appears to be gaining steam with each passing week.  He is knocking on doors, shaking hands and telling everyone who will listen why he believes he would be good for the City of Demopolis.

And, while campaign signs are not votes, Singelton certainly seems to have the edge in that department as well. Couple that with what many perceive to be the potential for voter apathy on the city’s west side and you have the potential for disaster for the Grayson camp.

Grayson’s real strength in the 2008 campaign came from the west side of the city, where he was the overwhelming favorite.  He’ll need that again this go round if he is to stay in office long enough to see ideas such as the proposed intermodal complex come to fruition.

But the west side of town has less compelling city council races this election with Bill Meador unopposed in District 4.  That leaves only the District 5 race to be settled where Jack Cooley is attempting to keep his seat against the challenge of Cleveland Cole Jr.

If voters on the west side of town do not turn out, Grayson will have a dog fight on his hands come Aug. 28.

Grayson, who has shown glimpses of promising long-term vision for the city, is also hindered by the ineffectiveness of the council over the last several months.  While it is difficult to pin the council’s ineptitude on Grayson, the perception among many is that responsibility for such things falls on the shoulders of leadership.  Singelton has recognized this perception and is exploiting it at every turn.

So what seemed for a while to be a shoe-in win for Grayson now seems much less certain.  It will be crucial for him, over the next three weeks, to make sure voters understand his vision for the future and exactly how he can make that vision a reality.

Otherwise, there is a strong chance Singelton can continue to snowball his current momentum right into City Hall.