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Familiar faces, and new ones

A little over 13 percent of registered voters in Rowan’s municipalities cast ballots Tuesday. That’s 5,079 people, about the size of the crowd at a football game between fierce county rivals.
These 5,000 may not be a huge chunk of the population, but they’re loaded with enthusiasm and commitment.
Salisbury voters, for example, gave a resounding vote of confidence to their City Council on Tuesday. All five incumbents easily won re-election. While Fibrant, the central office debate and other matters raise eyebrows in some corners, politically active city residents are cheering on council members virtually across the board. There’s no reason for the council not to follow its tradition of choosing the top vote-getter as mayor; Paul Woodson has earned the spot. You could say the city has a deep bench, with Maggie Blackwell and Karen Alexander finishing within 33 votes of Woodson. The rest of the council, Pete Kennedy and Brian Miller, were not far behind. They make a strong team.
You have to give credit to the candidates who did not win seats Tuesday — in the Salisbury race and all the others. Putting your name on the ballot takes courage, gumption and a willingness to take a risk. Candidates like William Peoples, Rick Honeycutt and Blake Jarman contributed to the community debate and kept the incumbents on their toes.
Kannapolis faced a completely different situation; with Mayor Bob Misenheimer and two experienced council members stepping aside, city voters faced a completely new roster in their council race. For mayor, they chose an experienced council member, Darrell Hinnant, and brought in some hard workers to help him lead the city into a new era — Doug Wilson, Darrell Jackson and Dianne Berry. What they lack in political experience they more than make up for in community involvement and business acumen. The onus is on Hinnant to bring in 10,000 jobs, as he said on the campaign trail he would. Kannapolis already has some momentum going, despite the recent recession. If Hinnant and company can keep that going and deliver on his promise, other cities and councils will beat a path to their door.
Wouldn’t it be nice if voters also beat a path to the polling place? The low turnout Tuesday had candidates shaking their heads; everyone had a story to tell about running across people who didn’t even know there was an election going on. Are voters complacent, apathetic, distracted or simply uninformed? Maybe the answer is all of the above. The low turnout doesn’t diminish the victories of people like Woodson, Hinnant and their council members. If anything, it underscores the depth of these leaders’ commitment and sacrifice. While others don’t even vote, theses officials are taking on the huge responsibility of shaping their cities’ future. They deserve more than a cheer. How about a standing ovation?

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