Tales from the past: Fox wins mayor office in political upset - 1993

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Jul 17, 2018 at 1:00 PM

An edition of the Lebanon Democrat issued Nov. 1, 1993 shows a smiling Don Fox and wife, Joyce, alongside a story that detailed results from the local election. 

Fox had won 223 votes more than the current mayor, Bobby Jewell, who had served one four-year term and encouraged Fox to run for his open council seat at the beginning of that term. Fox won the Ward 6 council seat uncontested, and remained allies with Jewell during most of his time on the council, supporting Jewell’s stance on most issues. 

An electrical mapping project for the city caused a rift between the two, and after several heated run-ins over the issue, Fox resigned from the seat, according to the article. 

Fox remained Lebanon mayor for multiple terms. 

In this particular election, there had been only one other contested race on the ballot, the race for Ward 2 city councilor. Fred Burton, who still holds the Ward 2 Lebanon City Council seat, won over his opponent, political newcomer Annie Davis Ward. 

Voters braved snow flurries and low temperatures on the day before Halloween to cast ballots. Of the 8,231 people registered to vote 3,681 —about 45 percent — showed up to vote. 

“Though Election Commission officials had expressed optimism [about voter turnout], several indicated that Saturday’s cold damp weather and unseasonal snow flurries likely contributed to the low turnout,” the article reads. 

I chuckled grimly to myself when I read that. I guess back in 1993, they took it as a sign of apathy if any less than half of the voting population showed up to support their favorite candidate for mayor or city council. 

Today, with a voting population of around 80,000, Wilson County election officials see it as par for the course when less than a quarter of the voting population makes it out to the polls for a local election. Keep in mind, polls are open for a matter of weeks for early voting now instead of the single Election Day, as was the case 25 years ago. The commission made changes to Wilson County’s election cycle so it would match up with other elections, such as state primaries and congressional districts, during Don Fox’s stint as mayor. 

I know we’ve said it and said it, but I’m going to say it again: Use your right to vote and visit the polls during this election. There’s no need to get out on a blustery Saturday in October. Now you can choose which day of the week you want to go, any time between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. or from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday at any one of five locations until July 28 for early voting. If you want to be old school and vote on Election Day, be sure you know your polling place. Remember to take your voter registration card and photo ID any time you visit the polls. 

Also, make an informed decision by checking out our candidate forums and commissioner questionnaires

We can back get that optimism for a 50-percent voter turnout. I truly believe that.

Sinclaire Sparkman is The Democrat’s news editor. Email her at ssparkman@lebanondemocrat.com and follow her on Twitter @wilsoncoreports.

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