Voters choosing local leaders

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

By Staff Report Six candidates for Spencer Board of Aldermen campaigned together outside Town Hall today, where about 230 people had voted by 3 p.m., including 40 absentee and early voters.
“It’s been steady, but not heavy,” Chief Poll Judge Alane Mills said. “Our idea of a jam would be four or five in here at one time.”
Jeff Morris, Reid Walters, Scott Benfield, David Smith, Kevin Jones and Jim Gobbel campaigned as a group, wearing buttons made by Morris in support of each other. Robert Bennett is also running for town board.
Jody Everhart is unopposed in his bid for mayor.
Voter Lauren Raper said she supports Jones, a newcomer to Spencer.
“He is articulate and well-educated, and I like to see young people take an interest in their community,” Raper said.
She also voted for Walters, Gobbel, Morris and Benfield, Raper said. Projects important to her include the library, park and Spencer Woods, Raper said.
“I came out to vote for candidates who share my vision of Spencer as a family-oriented community,” she said.
Betty Sedberry, whose late husband Ralph Sedberry was an alderman, said she was pleased with the slate of candidates but is concerned about the economy and would like the board to recruit more small businesses to town.
“We really need to put a focus on that,” Sedberry said. “Don’t worry so much about the large industries.”
Glenda Wells and Howard Harding Doby Jr. said they came to vote in support of candidates who would work to enforce the town’s codes.
Frankie Owens said he supported Morris and Walters as his top candidates and would like the town board to lower taxes.
Robert Honeycutt said he votes every year.
“If you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain,” he said.
Vick Sturdivant said he came to support candidates he grew up with, Benfield and Everhart. The incumbents have done a good job, he said.
“I vote for people who are concerned about people, and who put their trust in God,” Sturdivant said.
In Granite Quarry, Ann Wilson never misses a chance to vote, and though she may be part of a typical low turnout for municipal contests, she said casting a ballot for the Board of Aldermen is just as important as any other election.
“Our board is what makes things run around here,” she said.
She’d like to see things run a little differently. Eight registered candidates, including current mayor Mary Ponds, and one write-in candidate are running for three seats on the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen.
Wilson said she didn’t vote for any of the incumbents. She’s unhappy the town only gives her a $3 credit on her garbage collection fee for contracting with a private company to pick up her recycling, and she says the town should have left a bridge closed in Forest Ridge.
Wilson voted just after 1 p.m. today, making her one of about 145 to cast a ballot by then at the Granite Quarry Municipal Building.
All 10 of the cities and towns in Rowan County are electing boards and mayors. The polls opened at 6:30 this morning and stay open until 7:30 this evening.
In Granite Quarry, Bob Wood said he likes the incumbent aldermen — and he wouldn’t say how he voted — but Wood said he’d also like to see some change.
“I?just think there needs to be some changes made and more businesses come to Granite Quarry,” he said. “There needs to be planning to help Granite Quarry grow.”
Wood said he thinks it’s important to vote in local elections because, “if you don’t vote, you can’t say, ‘Why don’t you do this?’ or ‘Why didn’t you do that?’ That’s how you have a voice.”
Granite Quarry is one of several towns where precincts were consolidated or moved for today’s elections. Wood said he’s previously voted at a different location than he did today, and he thinks that could have caused some confusion among voters.
“But it was explained, and there was enough information sent out that people should have known,”?he said.
Here’s a list of the precincts that have been consolidated or moved:
• The North China Grove Precinct 05 and South China Grove Precinct 06 have been combined to form China Grove 05A. The polling place for that precinct will be the China Grove Community Building, 412 S. Myrtle Ave.
• East Landis Precinct 20 and West Landis Precinct 19 have been combined to form Landis 19A. The polling place will be the Rowan Public Library South Branch, 920 Kimball Road.
• North Granite Quarry Precinct 14 and South Granite Quarry Precinct 46 have been combined to form Granite Quarry 14A. The polling place will be the Granite Quarry Municipal Building, 143 S. Salisbury Ave.
• The Rockwell Precinct 25 polling place has been moved to the Rowan Public Library East Branch, 110 Broad St.
• The Spencer Precinct 28 polling place has been moved to the Spencer Municipal Building, 600 S. Salisbury Ave.
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Joe and Bessie Jones pulled up at the East Spencer Municipal Building on Tuesday because they’re “concerned”?about the town’s management.
“We’re voting for change,” Bessie Jones said as she walked out of the polling station. “I believe we have a lot of concerned folks and they will come out.”
The Joneses said, besides tradition, two big issues brought them to the polls.
“We pay as much tax as Salisbury pays,”?Joe said.
Bessie agreed, adding, “We’re hoping they stop charging so much for water.”
According to Bessie Jones, the increasing water bill is something that should make East Spencer residents want to vote.
“Anytime you’re paying more than $100 for water, it’s outrageous,”?Bessie said.
• • •
Roscoe Giles served 10 years on the Rowan County Board of Elections, so he knows so-called “off year”?elections — without a president, governor or even county commissioner on the ballot — don’t typically draw a whole lot of voters to the polls.
But Giles, who was voter No. 48 at Isenberg Elementary School this morning, said voters should care just as much about their local city council or town board, because those people make the decisions that hit closest to home.
“That’s where it all starts,”?Giles said. “The issues that are before the City Council are basic, everyday issues. I think it’s important to vote so we can tell everybody else in the state at large how we feel.”
The polls opened at 6:30 this morning and stay open until 7:30 this evening. All 10 of the cities and towns in Rowan County are electing boards and mayors.
In Salisbury, where the council picks the mayor and has traditionally selected the person with the most votes in the election, Giles said he hopes current Mayor Susan Kluttz, who’s held the office 14 years, wins that distinction again.
“I think she has done a good job of leadership,” he said. “She certainly has devoted time and effort … and in my opinion, she approaches the questions and problems intelligently.”
In fact, Giles said, he voted for all the current Salisbury City Council incumbents, who he said, “over many years now have done an excellent job responding to what a majority of voters want.”
Perry VonCanon would disagree on that point.
“From an issue standpoint, I’m concerned about the Fibrant move,” VonCanon said, referring to the city’s $33 million fiber optic venture that provides internet, TV and telephone service in competition with companies like Time Warner.
VonCanon said Fibrant influenced his decisions on the ballot today.
“I voted for at least one incumbent and some new faces,” he said.
Four challengers joined the five incumbents in seeking seats on the council. VonCanon wouldn’t say which incumbent got his vote, but he did say that he believes Kluttz “has done a good job” as mayor.
No matter the issues or offices up for a vote, VonCanon said his father fought for the freedom to make a choice in World War II and he thinks it’s important to remember that.
“I do consider it a right, not a privilege, and I don’t pass up elections,” he said.
Peggy Hooper said she also thinks it’s important “to vote every time there’s an election.” Local leaders, she said, have a particular responsibility “to run our city and take care of our tax money and not be wasteful.”
Her son Jerry Hooper said voting in local elections is “the same thing” as voting for a president or governor. It’s about “picking the right people,” in this case to run the city, he said.
The Hoopers said they voted for both voted for challenger Rip Kersey, along with incumbents.