Whitworth seeks votes by mailing out ballots

DULUTH -- Getting people to the polls for a city council runoff election is always a hard task, so Elise Whitworth thought she could find a way to take the polls to the people.

Whitworth, who is running against Billy Jones for an open seat in Duluth, mailed absentee ballot applications to the most likely voters in the city.

"I think it's important," with Thanksgiving just days before the runoff. "Voting is that last thing on their mind."

Runoffs typically bring a fraction of voters back to the polls, and only about 1,273 votes were cast in the race in November.

Jones, a fifth-generation Duluth man, edged Whitworth by 21 votes that day, but because no one reached a majority, the two will be battling for George Rhode's 127 votes while trying to convince their supporters to return to the ballot box.

"I'm just trying to encourage everyone to get out and vote," said Jones, who is pointing out to people that they can participate even if they didn't cast a ballot in November. "I think (the runoff) makes the choice a little clearer."

Jones said he has "more intimate knowledge of Duluth's history and its struggles," which could help in steering the city through the tough financial times.

But Whitworth, a college instructor who has experience in accounting, said she has a "broader perspective" and more experience to deal with budget woes.

Both served on the city's recent study to increase revenues and cut costs, and Whitworth is on the county's Engage Gwinnett committee.

While Jones wants to continue developing the city's parks master plan and get road projects moving, Whitworth said the parks improvements can wait.

"I think we have more pressing issues like our infrastructure and the economic situation," she said.

Both are also interested in redeveloping the city's downtown, with Jones noting that the city's historical treasures need to be preserved.

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Duluth City Hall.