5 Jonesboro council members skip out on emergency meeting addressing voter suppression

The November elections may be months away, but there's already controversy in Jonesboro after city leaders decided to run their election for city races instead of letting the county do it.

That decision was made last week, with a vote of five to one.

"I think we owe the people in the city to make sure everything is handled appropriately and correctly," said Council member Tracey Messick in a July 10 meeting.

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Jonesboro Mayor Dr. Sartor held a meeting to address voter suppression on July 17, 2023.

On Monday, Mayor Dr. Donya L. Sartor called a special meeting. She said she had heard concerns from residents and was hoping the council would take another look at who would handle the election. But the majority of the council, the five members who voted to have the city run the election, didn't show up.

A number of people did voice their concerns though, including the mayor who said it would cost the city about $14,000 more for the city to handle the election. She said it would also make it more difficult for people to vote because there would be a limited number of polling locations and shorter hours. Additionally, anyone voting on separate city and county issues would have to go to two separate locations.

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Jonesboro residents address their own concerns during meeting on voter suppression on July 17, 2023.

"It doesn't make any sense, why would we spend $14,000 more and limit accessibility," said Mayor Sartor.

"It's kind of hard. You have to go this place and that place to try to vote, we need one place," resident Georgia Evonne Moore agreed.

'There's no rationale for having two voting locations, and on top of that you have a fiduciary responsibility to protect our pennies," said Drew Andrews who is with the Georgia NAACP, and is a Jonesboro resident.

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Many were angry that the five council members who want the city to handle the election weren't there to hear what they had to say.

"How [are you] going to solve problems when you're not sitting and listening," said Charles Forsyth.

The mayor is hoping word gets back to the council members, and they take a second look at this.

"This is what being an elected official is all about. We make choices, we realize it may not be the correct one, and we come back and correct it," said Mayor Sartor.

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City of Jonesboro

FOX 5 mailed each of the five council members who voted for the city to handle the election. 

Ed Wise returned an email saying he was out of town and said he voted to have the city handle the elections "so as to not fall into a pattern of outsourcing jobs that should be handled by our more competent and qualified employees, in addition our City Clerk Melissa Brooks is a Certified Elections Superintendent, and assured us she could handle the Elections seamlessly."

As of 11 p.m. Monday, the other four members have not yet responded.