Single-Member vs. Countywide Voting

A controversial voting issue brings out a full force of concerned citizens, some arriving late to Tuesday's Suwannee County Commission meeting, but making sure to be on time to hear that single-member district voting will not change.

Samuel Beasley, President of the Suwannee County NAACP Branch, says, "You're talking about one man, one vote. Everybody in the county can be represented by a single county commissioner or a school board member. It just brings people closer together."

The meeting was packed with residents, mostly black, who had concerns of Paul Mercer's request to switch to countywide voting. They say the change would not give blacks a fair chance to hold office. Mercer says his request stem from tax concerns, mainly on truckers.

Paul Mercer says, "Some of the taxes they want to pass are pretty selective. They pick out certain groups of people, really overcharge them and don't tax other groups of people. It's kind of unfair the way they want to do things."

Commissioner Douglas Udell says he doesn't buy it. He says this issue comes up every four years.

"There's a small group of people here who would like to see me replaced, but they can't do it at the polls, so they're trying to create a situation due to the small population of minority people in this county that feel like if it's countywide voting I wouldn't get elected," he says.

Jesse Caruthers was the only commissioner to motion to put the voting change on the ballot.