The population in Newberry is growing and so is voter turnout.
As election officials tested the two voting machines for Tuesday's Group 5 Commissioner contest between incumbent Tim Marden and challenger Joy Glanzer, Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe was reaching out to the more than 4,500 followers on his Facebook page trying to stress the importance of getting out to vote.
"Gainesville only had an 11 percent turnout in their last election," Marlowe wrote. "For all the dissatisfaction I hear, it is hard to understand a turnout that low. I don’t usually compare our community to Gainesville, and I’m hoping there ends up being no comparison on this point as well!"
Marlowe expressed his hopes for high voter turnout Tuesday when the polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Newberry Municipal building next to city hall.
On Monday Commissioner Paul Norfleet, City Clerk Judy Rice, Deputy Supervisor of Elections William Boyett and Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton participated in a voting machine check, along with several city staff members and residents. One machine had a power issue and is being replaced today.
"We want to make sure everything is ready," Barton said, calling for a replacement machine to be delivered within the hour.
The logic and accuracy test administered on Monday was held at 10 a.m. and open to the public. Barton said there was a high request for vote-by-mail ballots for this election, and Rice said the requests doubled to about 120.
According to Rice, the 2021 population estimate for City of Newberry residents is 6,873. Of those, about 5,400 are registered voters who can participate in elections.
Voter turnout in the Commissioner Group 5 election in April 2019 was 806, with Paul Norfleet earning 53 percent of the votes. That translates to a voter turnout just above 17 percent.
In 2020, the municipal election turnout for the Commissioner Group 3 race garnered 1,802 votes, with Monty Farnsworth edging out Walt Boyer, 996 to 806—more than double the 2019 tally.
Last week Marden and Glanzer engaged in a debate covering issues affecting Newberry residents. They spoke about what they think matters to voters such as school populations, road conditions and the relationship between Newberry and other municipalities and Alachua County.
On March 27, Glanzer hosted a meet and greet to be available to voters to discuss her platform. She said her priorities are school overcrowding, protecting Newberry's agricultural heritage, and building a united community.
On Sunday, Marden hosted an hour-long town hall discussion on Facebook and shared his priorities for keeping Newberry out of debt, addressing traffic volume increases, school zoning and population concerns, and infrastructure needs.
Mayor Marlowe agreed that this is a high interest election.
"Both candidates are very well known," he said. "It's about who do you think is going to work harder for Newberry and represent the voice of the residents."