Turnout in Tuesday’s municipal elections surpasses 2017

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2019

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — It might not bowl you over — only one out of five eligible voters cast ballots — but the overall turnout Tuesday for municipal elections in Rowan County outdistanced numbers recorded in 2017.

Tuesday’s turnout was 20.26%, far above the 15.92% in 2017.

This year, 7,788 people voted out of 38,448 who were eligible to participate in a municipal election.

In 2017, 6,323 ballots had been cast out of 39,720 eligible voters.

Besides the good weather, Tuesday’s numbers were buoyed by high interest in the Salisbury City Council race and the contest in Landis.

There was a stream of voters at polling places around Salisbury at lunch time on Tuesday and, as of 2 p.m., 1,350 voters already had cast a ballot.

Some voters took candidate guides into the polls, but many knew who they were voting for. On Salisbury City Council ballot were the five incumbents: Mayor Al Heggins and Mayor Pro Tem David Post as well as council members Karen Alexander, Brian Miller and Tamara Sheffield. They were joined by challengers Gemale Black, Ladale Benson (who discontinued his campaign), Patricia Jones “P.J.” Ricks and John Struzick.

Wyn Bingham, who voted at City Park Recreational Building, said she was looking for consistency on council, saying it was better when people stayed on city’s governing body.

Jeff Shuping, a teacher, and took his lunch break to vote. He said voting is an important experience, and wished parents, especially of young children, would bring their kids to the polls as they vote. For Shuping’s vote, he looked at who would be best for his hometown by asking himself if the candidate was diverse, inclusive and willing to work together instead of causing discord.

Municipal elections have the most impact on your hometown, Shuping said.

Diedre Costic voted at Isenberg Elementary School, saying she went for candidates who would work to improve the schools, drug use and homelessness. As a child, Costic said she went to the polls with her mother and realized the importance of voting.

“The problems in our country start local,” Costic said. “If we don’t do something locally for ourselves, we can’t expect the federal government to do everything.”

Shelby Stywall walked across the street from her house to the Miller Recreation Center. Stywall has been in Salisbury for about a year and is engaged. She wants the city to improve by providing more things for the youth to do and decreasing crime.

Alice Edwards said her mind was made up, and she passed volunteers passing out candidate information. “Fame,” the Confederate monument at intersection of West Innes and Church streets, was a key issue for Edwards. She voted for candidates who didn’t want to erase the city’s history, she said.

Tip McCachren said he knows most of the candidates personally and has kept up with their actions.

McCachren said he advocates for more people to vote and tries to vote every time.

Dennis Brown voted at the Salisbury Civic Center and said he knew a lot of the candidates personally because he has lived in Salisbury for 40 years. Crime is an important issue for him, and Brown said he has seen it improve recently.

Brown said there were plenty of good candidates this year. He said their record is important. If they do what they say, then they’ll stay on council; if not, voters won’t continue to vote for them.

“These small towns have to have the right people in the right place,” Brown said.

According to Elections Director Brenda McCubbins, voting throughout the precincts well well, with no notable problems.