Spencer challenger wins seat on board, Gobbel remains top vote-getter

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 6, 2013

SPENCER — Challenger and first-time politician Mike Boone ousted incumbent David Smith to win the sixth and final seat on the Spencer Board of Aldermen.
Boone and his wife Debbie appeared slightly stunned Tuesday night after the results appeared at the Rowan County Board of Elections. Boone was the only challenger to win a seat on the board, and voter turnout in Spencer was 15.68 percent.
“It’s too early to think,” Boone said when asked for his reaction.
Boone described himself as “moderately surprised.”
“This is my first time for anything like this,” he said, attributing his victory to word of mouth and his commitment to help revitalize the central business district in Spencer.
Boone said he was born and raised in Spencer, moved away for 20 years and has been back for 20 years.
According to tradition, Jim Gobbel should keep the mayor pro tem’s office as the top vote-getter with 253 votes. Scott Benfield came in second with 231, followed by Kevin Jones and Reid Walters with 218 each, Jeff Morris with 203 and Boone with 180.
Mayor Jody Everhart was re-elected without opposition.
Runners-up for the Board of Aldermen were Smith with 169 votes and Rashid Muhammad with 162. Smith could not be reached for comment.
A political newcomer and first-time candidate, Muhammad said he was proud of his performance and plans to run again.
“I thoroughly enjoyed it,” he said. “It was a great experience.”
Muhammad said he didn’t win a spot on the board, but he still feels like a winner.
“I feel as a newcomer, I did an excellent job,” he said. “I will continue to serve and do service in the community, regardless of not placing in the six seats.”
Gobbel said he was honored that Spencer voters had chose him once again as the top vote-getter. He said he’s confident the new Board of Aldermen will work together to move Spencer forward.
Boone, who lives in the Spencer historic district, will do a good job as an aldermen, Gobbel said.
“He knows the issues in the core area of our town,” Gobbel said. “He will be an asset.”
Voters in Spencer are traditionally greeted by many of the candidates themselves, who spend most of election day camped out in front of Town Hall.
Tuesday was no different, with a half-dozen candidates enjoying congenial conversation with each other while waiting for the next voter to appear.
Turnout started slowly but picked up in the afternoon. A total of 333 people cast a ballot, including 38 who voted early. There are 2,124 registered voters in the town.
Turnout in municipal elections, which are held in odd-numbered years, is traditionally low, but voter Betsy Rich said she wouldn’t miss the chance to cast a ballot.
“My son is a stickler about voting,” Rich said. “I have the same feeling of responsibility.”
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.