It's Time for A Sit-Down If We Plan To Win The At Large Seat Next Election

It's Time for A Sit-Down If We Plan To Win The At Large Seat Next Election

By Wane Hailes

The 2024 election for the District 10 at large seat has the potential to bring about a seismic shift of power on our city council if a Black candidate is elected to the position that has been dominated for years by White candidates.

As of December 13, 2024, four individuals have filed a Declaration of Intention to Accept Campaign Contributions form with the Muscogee County Elections and Registration. This allows each of them to begin collecting funds for their campaign.

The four individuals who have currently declared their intention to seek the at-large seat are Travis Chambers, Rocky Marsh, Patrick Leonard, and John Anker.

With three Black candidates and one White candidate in the race, it is obvious that there must be a “sit-down” with Chambers, Marsh, and Leonard. The three must decide which of them has the best chance of winning.

Why will this decision be important to the Black community?

One of the primary issues is the potential for vote splitting. When two or more candidates with similar platforms, backgrounds, or characteristics run, it divides the voter base. When the vote is split among multiple black candidates, it dilutes our voting, making it less likely that any one of them will win.

Campaign resources such as funding, volunteers, and media attention are limited when they are spread across multiple candidates from similar demographics. This can result in less effective campaigns than a single candidate who might consolidate these resources if they were the sole representative of that demographic.

The more candidates there are in a race, the more fragmented the vote base can become. Each candidate may appeal to different segments within the same broader community, resulting in a situation where there is no clear consensus candidate. Without a concentrated effort behind a single black candidate, gaining the necessary momentum to win an election will be difficult.

If the majority demographic prefers the white candidate for any number of reasons—such as familiarity, perceived alignment with their interests, or political strategy—it may be hard for any minority candidate to overcome this advantage. The division among black candidates can exacerbate this issue further, as none of them may gain enough cross-demographic appeal.

Finally, voters often consider the electability of candidates when making their choices. The presence of multiple black candidates gives the impression that none of them is viable enough to win. Potential supporters might cast their vote for the white candidate, assuming that candidate has a better chance of securing a victory.

The District 10 at-large city council seat is winnable for us in the 2024 election. We have won city-wide seats in the past. However, whether that comes to fruition in the next election will depend on Chambers, Marsh and Leonard.  In the best interest of our community, it would be great if they come together, put their P.E.Ts (Pride-Ego-and Temptation to run) on a leash and decide which of the three has the absolute best chance of winning in 2024.

If not, we’ll be right back at square one with people who don’t look like us making decisions for us, about us, without us.

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