My Turn, David Post: Potholes are not red or blue

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 7, 2021

By David Post

Partisanship drives so much in today’s world — even non-partisan municipal elections. Partisanship creates division. And that’s unhealthy for a city.

I regret that.

In 2017, the Rowan County Democrats decided to endorse candidates. At the time, I was a registered Democrat and opposed endorsements saying, “Potholes aren’t red or blue. Water – half the city budget – is not red or blue. Zoning, new fire stations, and economic incentives aren’t red or blue.”

Democrats disagreed and endorsed candidates. I refused to accept their endorsement. 

On Election Day 2017, Democrats manned the polls handing out literature supporting their candidates. I ended up second in a race decided by 10 votes out of 17,539 votes cast by some 5,000 voters. (Don’t forget voters could vote for up to five candidates.)

Would a Democrat endorsement have garnered 10 more votes? That’s irrelevant. Refusing their endorsement was the right thing to do.

In 2019, Democrats endorsed Democrats, and a group of Republicans endorsed Republicans. Incumbents were re-elected — though in a different order.

I’m a loyal Democrat. In 2008 and 2012, I provided office space and beds in my home to the Democrat and Obama campaigns.  In 2016 and 2020, I organized fundraisers for Democratic candidates for governor, attorney general and the U.S. Senate.

Yes, I’ve voted for Republicans. County Commission Chair Greg Edds and I have argued political issues. He’ll say that these next few words will cost him 500 votes, but I like him and have voted for him. His economic development work for the county has been remarkable.

Phil Kirk, Jr., a friend for over 50 years, has received my votes. In the early 1970s, Phil and I “debated” for our political parties at the high schools to encourage young people to get involved.

This year, 2021, Democrats began their endorsement strategy early. So, I changed my registration to “unaffiliated.” The Democrats actively campaigned for their candidates. Republican women helped at early voting.

The Democrats won. Of the seven candidates, the four elected to city council included two Democrats and two “unaffiliated” former Democrats. The three candidates not elected were Republicans. (I bet Republicans endorse and actively campaign next election.)

Will partisanship creep into city council issues? Appointments to boards and commissions? Zoning requests? Honoring citizens? Economic incentives? The budget? Selection of a new city manager?

I hope not. Partisanship should have no role in city elections or governance. But putting toothpaste back into its tube is impossible.

Volunteers for boards and commissions now are asked their race. The intent was to expand minority engagement. After the public approved separate mayoral elections, I proposed adding two seats to city council thinking that would expand minority representation. I was surprised when that vote failed.

I was lucky to have been reelected and pledge to never be politically partisan on any city council issue.

Potholes are not red or blue.

David Post is a Salisbury city councilman who won re-election on Tuesday.