In this week’s column From the Murphy Center, columnist Don Matthews discusses if apathy and cynicism are hurting our democracy.

Incumbent Brunswick City Commissioner Johnny Cason will return to serve a third term in office.

Cason defeated challenger John Davis Perry II by 12 votes in Tuesday’s runoff to determine the winner of the North Ward seat.

The runoff was necessary after none of the four candidates was able to garner more than 50 percent of the vote. The top two vote recipients were Cason with 46 percent of the vote and Perry with 24 percent of the vote in the Nov. 5 general election.

Cason earned 304 votes or 51 percent to Perry’s 292 votes or 49 percent. Only 6.1 percent of the city’s 9,761 registered voters showed up to cast their votes in the runoff.

Prior to the results being announced, Cason was at a local restaurant with supporters. He said he knew the turnout was low, which meant Cason was uncertain if he’d get enough votes to win.

“I’ve been trying to encourage people to vote,” he said. “We used everything we know to encourage voters.”

During his campaign, Cason said affordable housing and adding new residents to the downtown business district were among his priorities. The ongoing effort to encourage the creation of loft space and apartments in the second floors of some of the vacant buildings downtown will help revitalize the city’s downtown district, he said.

A recent study shows Brunswick could absorb as many as 75 rental and for-sale housing units annually for at least the next five years.

Cason also supports the construction of a convention center attached to a hotel downtown if city officials follow the recommendation of a paid consultant to build a smaller, 12,000 to 14,000 square foot facility.

Perry said the city has a public transportation void that could be filled after a study to determine routes and the type of service is determined.

The city also needs to be more pedestrian friendly, he said.

Housing for senior citizens who are being displaced and long-term occupancy of homes is a concern, he said.

Perry believes city leadership needs to have a unified plan for the future of Brunswick. City leaders have shown a lack of creativity to deal with some of the challenges facing residents and businesses, he said.

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