City Council by the numbers: 2019 results show steady increase in turnout

Published 12:10 am Sunday, November 10, 2019

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — The 2019-21 Salisbury City Council will have the same five members, but the seats will be different when they’re sworn in next month.

Karen Alexander, who was mayor from 2015 to 2017, will return to the center seat if her fellow council members hold to tradition of choosing the highest vote-getter in the council election as mayor.

Voter turnout increased by more than 500 over 2017. The turnout was roughly 22%, with more than 4,500 votes cast, representing the continuation of a steady increase in turnout. In 2017, the number of votes cast was about 500 more than in 2015.

The North Ward precinct had the highest turnout with 29.11%, or 706 votes. It was followed by West Innes with a turnout of 529 votes, or 27.16%, and Milford Hills City, with 671 votes, or 25.66%.

Sumner had the lowest turnout at 8.68%, or 56 votes. In the Franklin precinct, five people voted of the 33 who are registered. In North Lock, 26 of the 319 registered voters cast ballots. Ellis had a turnout of 14 out of 72.

In 2017, West Ward 1 had the highest turnout with 25.56%.

• • •

Alexander, who received the third-most votes in 2017, increased her vote total by 947. In all 15 precincts except Franklin, she increased her vote totals. She received 17% of her votes in the North Ward precinct.

Alexander led in the Faith, Sumner, West Ward 1, West Innes/Ellis and Milford Hills City precincts. She lives in West Ward 1.

Current Mayor Al Heggins picked up 385 votes over her 2017 total. She saw only a slight decrease in votes in one precinct, Ellis. She received 15.5% of her votes in South Ward.

Heggins won a majority of votes in Franklin, Milford Hills County, North Locke, Hatters, East Ward, West Ward 3 and South Ward precincts.

Heggins lives in the West Ward 3 precinct, where she got 248 votes. That compares to 86 for Alexander and 96 for David Post. West Ward 3 is predominately black and has about 2,500 registered voters. Candidate Gemale Black, who finished seventh overall, also performed well in West Ward 3, getting 178 votes.

Mayor Pro Tem David Post increased his vote total by 370 over 2017; Councilman Brian Miller got an extra 628 votes; and Councilwoman Tamara Sheffield increased her total by 348.

As he did in 2017, Miller pulled in the greatest portion of his votes in North Ward precinct, with 429 votes.

Post led all candidates in West Ward 2, with 300 votes.

Post and Miller live in the West Innes precinct.

Sheffield lives in West Ward 2, but received a plurality of her votes in North Ward.

• • •

Patricia Jones “P.J.” Ricks again finished in sixth place, coming up short to fifth-place finisher Sheffield. Ricks received 1,863 votes, or 10.27%. That was a gain for her of 324 votes over the 2017 race, when she received 1,539 votes, or 8.77%.

Black, a first-time candidate, received 1,299 votes, or 7.16%.

John Struzick ran in both 2017 and 2019. Two years ago, he got 1,099 votes; this year, he received 1,297 votes, or 7.15%.

Giannina Monzon, a newcomer to politics, received 1,076 votes, or 5.93%. She set up a booth at the one-stop voting site at West End Plaza throughout the early-voting period. And she picked up 497 votes during early voting.

Ladale Benson, who discontinued his campaign, received 235 votes, or 1.3%.

There were 91 write-in votes, or 0.5% of the total.

• • •

Some votes are still to be counted, according to Rowan County Elections Director Brenda McCubbins, including seven provisional ballots and 10 absentee ballots for the Salisbury City Council race.

Absentee ballots must have been postmarked by Election Day. Across the county, there are at least 14 absentee ballots and 34 provisionals outstanding, with 13 likely to be approved.

Countywide, turnout was higher than 2017, with an additional 1,465 ballots cast over 2017. That’s an an increase of 4.32%.

The Board of Elections has not yet certified the results of the election, so the numbers remain unofficial for another week as the board conducts a canvass.

McCubbins said, judging the unofficial totals, no results in Rowan County are close enough to allow a recount.

In 2017, the top vote-getters — Heggins and Post — were 10 votes apart. Post chose not to call for a recount, leaving Heggins as the top vote getter with 2,169.