Editorial: Closure closer in Salisbury mayor race

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 11, 2021

Salisbury should have some sense of who its next mayor will be on Tuesday.

That’s when the Rowan County Board of Elections will conduct a recount of the Salisbury mayoral race, where Karen Alexander has received 2,509 votes and Al Heggins has received 2,495. It’s a difference of just 14 votes.

Voters also can enter Tuesday with a pretty good prediction about how the final results will shake out. While 14 votes seems like a small margin, a recount that changes enough votes to switch the race to a Heggins win would be a major shift and raise questions about what went wrong.

When the Rowan County board of Election recounted ballots in the N.C. Supreme Court race in 2020 — a race that involved thousands more ballots — both candidates lost votes. There were five fewer votes for the Republican and six fewer votes for the Democrat. A second, hand-to-eye recount resulted in one additional vote for the Republican. A 2015 recount in Rockwell, which involved a lot fewer votes, left results unchanged after the candidates finished two votes apart.

With election results declared official during Tuesday’s canvass and liking her chances heading into the recount, Alexander is already calling herself the next mayor of Salisbury and Heggins “the losing candidate.” The statement seems like a final shot in a hotly contested race.

In a post on her campaign’s Facebook page, Alexander said, “After Tuesday’s canvass, I maintained a 14 vote lead, which I am now declaring victory as the re-elected Mayor of Salisbury. The losing candidate, Al Heggins, has formally requested a recount as per protocol.”

For her part, Heggins appears to be heading into the race optimistic and satisfied with a hard-fought contest.

“For you and for me, an election isn’t about a competition,” Heggins wrote on her campaign page. “It’s about moving our cities, states and the nation in a direction that  respects, accepts and serves all people!”

People who want to watch the recount can do so at 10 a.m. in the Rowan County Board of Elections office in West End Plaza, 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. West, Suite D-10, or use the video conferencing software Zoom to watch virtually. The link is https://bit.ly/rowanboe1116. The passcode is 111621. The Board of Elections will also conduct a recount in East Spencer, where Tony Hillian and Albert J. Smith are separated by just one vote.

Whatever the outcome, Salisburians should look at the mayoral election as proof that local politics are alive in the city. Both candidates and their supporters should remain active in city government, participate in public hearings and make their voices heard on important issues. The mayoral elections determines which candidate can best represent all of Salisbury’s residents and their opinions, not which person is empowered to pursue a personal agenda.