Turnout was light, with a total of 732, or 6.3 percent, of the city’s 11,683 registered voters going to the polls to voice their opinion on the issue, despite heated debate in the weeks leading up to the election.
The majority of Canton City Council members supported the proposal with Mayor Gene Hobgood and Councilman Glen Cummins remaining technically neutral on the plan but speaking out on the potential long term costs of the bond, which was set to have a 20-year term and hoped to construct three new fire stations in Canton.
Councilman John Beresford, who stood at the forefront of the charge to pass the plan, said Tuesday night that he was “naturally disappointed” with the outcome.
“I hope they are happy and I hope they plan to put on the fire helmet and fire boots,” Beresford said of citizens who led what he has called the “anonymous” movement against the bond.
Beresford said he was also disappointed with the low turnout for the election.
“The populous did not speak,” he said.
After learning of the result, Hobgood said, even though the numbers were low, the citizens who turned out to vote have spoken loudly and clearly.
“The important thing is that every single voter in the city had the opportunity to make a decision,” he said.
When asked how the city could now solve the problem of the need for more fire protection, Hobgood said he’d like to explore all other options.
“The main thing I would like to see is for us go back and examine every alternative,” said Hobgood, who has in the past recommended consolidating Canton fire services with Cherokee County. “That simply was not done in this case.”
Hobgood also said that he thought Canton still has the opportunity to build one of the three proposed stations. This station would be in the area which most have agreed is in the most need, the Laurel Canyon community on the northwestern edge of the city.
Janet Munda, Cherokee County Supervisor of Elections and Registration said Tuesday that the city of Canton will foot the bill for the election, which she estimates will cost between $10,000 to $12,000. That comes to roughly $20 per vote cast.