MEMPHIS, TN - Memphis voters Mitzi Pollard and Lashun Tate plan to vote early in the MCS charter referendum. So Tuesday night's school merger forum, led by Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy, was a must-attend for both women.
"I think forums like this give the voters information they need to make an informed decision," Pollard tells abc24.com.
Unfortunately, many of the forums have been sparsely attended thus far. Even a weekend "get out the vote" rally by consolidation supporters wasn't very crowded.
"It's like any other election," says Commissioner Mulroy. "There are going to be some voters really well informed and other voters less informed. Some will watch television and read the newspaper, others won't. At the end of the day, it's people making a decision, and that is the most important thing."
For those seeking answers elsewhere, finding the pros and cons of school consolidation online, isn't so easy.
Mulroy offers his opinions at stevemulroy.com. Citizens for a Better Memphis, consolidation supporters, have established voteforunity.com.
The Memphis City and Shelby County government websites were supposed to contain a lot of helpful information, Mayor A C Wharton and Mayor Mark Luttrell making that pledge several weeks ago when they announced a joint transition plan.
But county spokesperson Steve Shular says government leaders changed course.
"As fast as this issue is changing," says Shular, "the right answer today could be the wrong answer tomorrow."
Curious citizens wanting more facts can submit their questions via email to either governmental agency and wait for a response. But so far, only 28 people have sent emails to county government and only 30 have sent inquiries to city government.
Check the Memphis City Schools website and you'll find an alarming lack of information, although MCS attorney Dorsey Hopson did say Monday night that information is forthcoming. Board members also expressed a desire to blitz the community with merger factoids before the election.
The Shelby County School system late Tuesday had posted a special charter referendum and school consolidation link on its website.
Memphis voters can expect a rapid fire series of town hall meetings between now and March 8th, for those interested in learning more.
"I can tell you," says Mitzi Pollard, "based on friends and people I've come into contact with, people with definitely go out and vote in this election."
"I think everybody should go to the polls," says Lashun Tate, "and make some kind of decision. This is too important to sit back and let this time pass away."