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Summers column: Sun City likely to impact election

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Gregory A. Summers is features editor for The Lancaster News.

 

Numbers never lie.

It’s easy to measure the impact Sun City Carolina Lakes in Indian Land is making in Lancaster County.

Since its beginning in 2005, the 1,512-acre community on Charlotte Highway has become one of the fastest growing subdivisions in the nation.

According to the Charlotte Business Journal, the development led the Charlotte region in the number of new single family homes, with 205 closings in 2011.

It’s impact is being felt in other ways, as well.

While a biased, one-sided CNN report in January 2012 portrayed Lancaster as a “tattered community” that folded up when Springs shut down, we got a national shot in the arm in August, when USA Today featured Sun City Carolina Lakes in a front page, coast-to-coast story entitled “Aging in America.”

That story said seniors are choosing Lancaster County because quality-of-life issues have become an priority for the first generation of baby boomers. And Sun City has a lot to offer, including more than 140 clubs for its residents, many of which have developed ties with local charities and schools. 

The booming community, which is restricted to residents 55 and older, also directly led to a major shift in the county’s seven County Council districts.

Listen to these numbers. Each district has a population of an estimated 11,500 residents and, since redistricting based on the 2010 U.S. Census, the Lancaster’s Panhandle now has two districts. 

Sun City alone has more than 4,200 residents, most of whom are registered voters. Not only that, they head to the polls.

Statistics show that in the United States, the oldest voters are most likely to cast ballots, which gives them political clout. Gallup Poll statistics show some 61 percent of citizens age 65 and older voted in the November 2010 election, which was the best turnout of any age group. More than half (54 percent) of those ages 55 to 64 also cast ballots.

That’s why candidates have a habit of stopping by the Lake House at Sun City, which, by the way, now has its own precinct.

“That’s exactly right; they sure do (vote),” said Mary Ann Hudson, director of Lancaster County Voter Registration. “I don’t think you’ll hear any argument from anybody on that.”

I still recall an informal conversation I shared with Rick Crimminger, chairman of the Lancaster County Election Commission, on Nov. 2, 2012, when the county’s ballots were being counted. Crimminger eluded to the impact Sun City would have in the outcome of future elections.

“They can swing it one way or another,” he said.

And now, I think they are about to take their first swing in shaping Lancaster County’s future. However, this time, it has nothing to do with who gets sworn in, and then, usually, sworn at.

There is no doubt Sunday alcohol sales in restaurants has become a contentious issue for county residents. And there is also no doubt that many Sun City voters come from metropolitan areas and regions of the country where Sunday alcohol sales are a way of life. Given that, the new Lake House precinct may very well have a big impact on the referendum’s outcome.

It doesn’t matter which side you are on, remember this: Election results are not based on leanings, feelings or “Vote Yes” and “Vote No” signs. 

Here’s what matters: Numbers never lie. Elections are decided by people who go to the polls.

If you want your voice to be heard and your number to count, show up to vote on Tuesday, Nov. 6.