Hey, old Charlie here. No, not the Charles whose picture is pasted on this column. Im the real Charlie, as in Brown. Ive been around a little longer than the columnist who normally writes in this space, but he and I share a common problem. Our antagonist is Lucy. She gets on my last nerve. All the other Peanuts characters are great, Linus, Schroeder, Patty and Pig Pen, but Lucy is something else.
For more than 50 years -- I know I dont look it, Ive hardly aged a day --Lucy has been playing the same old trick and I fall for it every time.
I like football and I often dream of being in Sanford Stadium with the game on the line when Coach Mark Richt calls my number for the winning field goal attempt. The ball is snapped to Adam Erickson, who turns the ball just right. As my foot makes contact, I know its going straight through the uprights. Thats the dream. The reality is that Lucy is my holder and every time I approach to fulfill my dream, she picks up the ball and I fall flat on my back as she gleefully laughs in my face.
The other Charles that usually appears in this space has his Charlie Brown moments, too. One is coming up Tuesday, Oct. 15. Thats when the people in the stadium called Bibb County will decide on a leader for the new consolidated government and four commission seats.
His Lucy is voter turnout. He approaches the ball, just like I do. All the stars seem aligned for a great turnout -- new consolidated government, several candidates with experience to choose from -- and then ... Lucy jerks the ball away -- again.
His last Lucy moment happened on Sept. 17. All indications pointed to a high turnout. There were 31 candidates running in nine districts and a mayors race with six candidates. What better time to have a high turnout. Candidates were excited as the moment of contact approached.
Sanford Stadium seats 92,746 fans, slightly less than the 93,000 registered voters in Bibb County. Or should I say used to be registered voters. It seems 16,000 dropped off the rolls before the last election because they had not voted in two previous general elections. Still, there were 81,348 voters. Can you imagine Sanford Stadium less than half full for a big game? In Bibbs big game only 44.3 percent wandered through the turnstiles of a voting booth.
Again, there are encouraging signs. As of Wednesday, almost 4,000 had early voted for the Oct. 15 election. Could this runoff approach the last one between Mayor Robert Reichert and former Mayor C. Jack Ellis when 3,000 more voters turned out in the runoff than the general election?
Will any of the 55.7 percent of voters who didnt show up last month suddenly appear? How many of the 44.3 percent will return?
While Lucy and I have our moments -- and she always seems to lure me into another failed attempt, I dont think Charles is approaching this election with much hope that anything will be better. His Lucy, he knows, is waiting to lift the ball and have him land on his back.
As he lies there looking up at a clear Georgia sky, an eternal question pops into his thought bubble. What is it going to take to get people to understand the importance of their single vote?
Im just a cartoon character. Though I look hurt when Lucy snatches the ball, cartoons cant hurt. But in the world Charles lives in with 156,000 others in Bibb County, there are real consequences when more than half the stadium is empty. How do you move forward when most of the people care less?
Ive said my peace. Next week, Charles will be back. Ill leave him with one last thought. It comes from my creator, Charles M. Schulz: I think Ive discovered the secret of life, you just hang around until you get used to it.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at 478-744-4342 or via email at email@example.com. Tweet@crichard1020.