11/01/09 — There will be no one's name on the ballot, again, in Eureka

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There will be no one's name on the ballot, again, in Eureka

By Laura Collins
Published in News on November 1, 2009 1:50 AM

The Town of Eureka ballot looks pretty bare.

With three seats open -- the mayor and two commissioners -- there are no candidates listed at the Wayne County Board of Elections.

Mayor Stephen Howell and Commissioner Billy Martin's seats are both open. The seat held by Commissioner William Taylor, who passed away last winter, is also open.

But citizens of the town aren't worried, this is old news for them. All of the current commissioners and the mayor weren't on a ballot either.

"People just go to the polling place and write in a name they think would be good, that qualifies for mayor or commissioner," Myrtie Sauls said.

Mrs. Sauls, who serves as both finance officer and commissioner for the town, was first elected by write-in votes in 2003, then reelected by write-ins in 2007.

"This has been sort of the history of our town for some time now," she said. "It could be a good thing because if a person goes down and writes your name in, they think that out of everyone you'd be a good person to serve, and you could do the best for the town and the citizens."

She added that voters in Eureka aren't limited by choices that are only on the ballot. Even though every race, whether there are candidates or not, allows for write-in votes, people are more likely to vote for a candidate already on the ballot, Mrs. Sauls said.

"People who go in and put their name on a ballot don't give us as many options," she said. "With this, people go in and vote for who they think would do best without being influenced by potential candidates."

Commissioner Billy Martin, whose seat is open, said typically people decide together whom they are going to vote for.

"The neighbors get together and talk about it," he said.

It's important to not mistake the lack of candidates on Eureka's ballot as a lack of caring for the town. Rather, it seems that commissioners are more interested in what the citizens want for the town than in keeping their seat.

Martin, who was first elected in 2005, is not running for reelection but said, "If they want me to stay, I'll stay."

Being a small town, word usually gets about who people are voting for before election results are tallied.

"I knew that there was some interest with a few people that really wanted me to have the seat," Martin said of his 2005 election. "I think I got 40-some votes, and I think I was the top vote-getter at the time."

Mrs. Sauls also said she caught wind of her impending election.

"You find out after the polls close, but I had a suspicion that people were voting for me," she said.

Wayne County Board of Election director Vickie Reed said Eureka isn't the only town with no candidates on the ballot and said it can be useful for a small town like Eureka, which has only 156 registered for municipal elections.

"There's no pros or cons here of which way would work better," she said. "We just want people in that town to vote for who they want to vote in. They always have that option and what works best for them works best for us."