Editorial: Questions for 2021 municipal elections

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 27, 2021

After a brief reprieve from elections, political contests will start again Friday when filing opens for city councils, town councils and boards of aldermen.

The elections will allow people who live in a city’s or town’s limits to choose their next leaders and mark the first time Salisbury voters have been able to directly elect a mayor. While some cities are talking about pushing back elections because of a delay in updated Census numbers, Rowan County municipalities don’t separate positions into districts and, therefore, don’t have to worry about delays.

With any luck, the contests will be focused on issues in the towns and cities in Rowan County rather than personality conflicts or issues that only serve to further divide the public.

As voters wait to see who files and would-be candidates contemplate whether they want to run, here are several questions worth considering in local municipal races:

• Will Salisbury’s first mayoral race be competitive? It seems likely that Mayor Karen Alexander will run. Will any of her council peers or a challenger run, too?

• Will any Salisbury City Council members choose not to run for re-election? Councilman Brian Miller has flirted with the idea of not seeking re-election before. Whether or not he decides to return to private life could have an impact on the size of the council field. It’s unlikely the race will be a repeat of 2015, when three incumbents chose not to run.

• After the Spencer Board of Aldermen almost completely changed in 2019, will leadership mostly remain steady in the 2021 election?

• In China Grove, will former mayor Don Bringle choose to run? Bringle was appointed to an unexpired term on the town board after Charles Seaford upset Lee Withers in the race for mayor. Is Withers also looking at his options?

• Councilman Ryan Dayvault is interested in running for mayor in the future, but says this isn’t the year for his mayoral campaign. Are there any others out there who want to challenge Mayor Darrell Hinnant for his seat? Success of downtown revitalization in the city might make a challenge difficult.

• Will there be any races where there aren’t enough candidates? It happens infrequently, and let’s hope this isn’t one of those years.

Whoever the candidates are, they should be commended for volunteering to serve their town or city. People who serve in Congress are paid handsomely, but those on city and town boards receive relatively little in return for a position that can require a full load of work and raise stress levels.