Political Notebook: Here’s how much Rowan County Board of Elections spent to conduct municipal elections

Published 6:00 pm Monday, January 24, 2022

SALISBURY — The cost to conduct the 2021 municipal elections across Rowan County last year totaled $52,466, with Salisbury’s race exceeding $21,000.

While all municipalities held an election, not all were competitive races. Approximately 66 candidates made a bid for 42 seats across the county. The most closely watched election was in Salisbury, which held a mayoral election separate from City Council for the first time in modern history. Both Salisbury and East Spencer had recounts after former Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins finished with fewer than 20 votes behind Mayor Karen Alexander and East Spencer candidate Albert Smith finished just one vote behind the late Tony Hillian for the third and final seat up for grabs.

While most election totals were within the $3,000-$4,000 range, it cost a total of $21,012 for the Salisbury mayoral and council races, including the recount. The next-highest cost was in Kannapolis, which is split between Rowan and Cabarrus counties, for $5,399. There were 12 council candidates and three seats on the ballot in Kannapolis.

In East Spencer, it cost $3,158 for five candidates, including the mayor.

The towns of Spencer, Faith and Landis were the only municipalities without a competitive race. The cost was $3,466 in Spencer, $3,111 in Faith and $3,227 in Landis.

The total cost of the election for the remaining municipalities:

• $3,616 in China Grove for nine candidates and three open seats

• $2,969 in Cleveland for five candidates and four open seats

• $3,312 in Granite Quarry for six candidates and three open seats

• $3,196 in Rockwell for seven candidates and six open seats

Board of Elections Director Brenda McCubbins said the total cost includes legal advertising, printing, supplies, programming, rental charges for polling places and board services. Each candidates’ filing fee is credited to the totals, which typically costs around $10.

Additionally, funds were used to pay Election Day precinct officials’ salaries. McCubbins said there were an average of five to six officials at each Election Day site. Kannapolis was charged for renting space at the Blackwelder Park polling location and the West Kannapolis site. Faith charged for rental space at its precinct.

Rowan Democrats launch effort to highlight letters in Post

Rowan County Democrats have launched a “Voters Speak” initiative to highlight letters published in the Salisbury Post from local voters in an effort to further engage and mobilize ahead of the 2022 elections.

A “Voters Speak” category has been added to the local Democrats’ website and will share letters published in the Post by local voters who support Democratic values. They say it’s also a measure for Democrats and supporters to help combat opinion letters and editorials penned in the Post.

“Together we can make a difference with our shared values about important subjects and policy and counter opposing or weak arguments with facts,” the party stated in a release about the initiative.

Democrats also cited a quote from Robert Reich, an economist and lawyer who was the U.S. Secretary of Labor under former President Bill Clinton.

“‘The greatest enemy of positive social change is cynicism about what can be changed.’ This recent quote by Robert Reich is a reminder of how democracy can die a slow death if we don’t keep up our long game for the short-term,” the news release stated. “Small things, like letters to the editor and commentary from local residents, can make an impact in Rowan County.”

To date, the new tab on the website includes published letters from local artist Whitney Peckman and activist Dee Dee Wright, who serves on Salisbury Police Chief’s Advisory Council. Democrats say local voters can contact votersspeak@rowancodems.com if they’re interested in sharing written words about Democratic values within Rowan County. No hate speech or bullying is allowed and all letters shared will also come from permission of the authors.

Rowan lawmakers assigned to additional committees for remainder of 2021-23 biennium

The three legislators representing Rowan County in the North Carolina state House have been assigned to a number of interim committees in addition to the ones they had already been assigned for the 2021-23 biennium.

Though legislators are awaiting a resolution to litigation regarding district boundaries in order to adjourn from the current legislative session, House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican from Cleveland County, issued assignments to 25 interim committees earlier this month. Lawmakers will be involved in these additional committees for the 2022 short session, which begins at a date to be determined.

Rep. Harry Warren, a Republican representing Rowan County in District 76, was appointed co-chair of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Local Government. He will serve as vice chair for the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance, where Rep. Julia Howard will serve as co-chair. Howard is a Republican representing Rowan and Davie counties in District 77.

Warren will also be a member of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Government Operations, a subcommittee for COVID-19 funding, the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on the North Carolina State Lottery and the Revenue Laws Study Committee.

Warren, who has a background in human resources, will continue to chair the State Personnel committee. He will also serve as vice chairman of the Election Law and Campaign Finance Reform, Local Government — Land Use, Planning and Development and Finance committees. He’ll remain a member of the Insurance, Redistricting, Transportation, State Government and Families, Children and Aging Policy committees.

Howard will also serve as co-chair of the Revenue Laws Study Committee. Howard, a 17-term legislator with a background in appraisals and real estate, had been chair of the House Finance Committee, which primarily handles tax policies and determines how much money the state has to allocate. Speaker Moore removed Howard from the position in April and appointed her to the Appropriations Committee after she opposed legislation that granted additional tax breaks for businesses that obtained federal funds to aid the impact of the pandemic.

House members across party lines, including Moore, received Paycheck Protection Program loans. The measure ultimately passed.

In addition to her interim assignments, Howard is still vice chairwoman of the Banking Committee. She’s a member of the committees for Appropriations, Commerce, Education – Universities, Energy and Public Utilities, Health, Insurance and Judiciary No. 4.

Rep. Wayne Sasser, a Republican representing parts of Rowan, Cabarrus and Stanly counties in District 67, will serve as a member of the Joint Legislative Oversight committees on Health and Human Services, Medicaid and Health Choice and Access to Healthcare and Medicaid Expansion. Sasser is the General Assembly’s only pharmacist and will remain chairman of the Health committee and the Appropriations on Health and Human Services committee.

Sasser is vice chairman of the Insurance and Appropriations committees. He’s a member of the Local Government, Agriculture and Families, Children and Aging Policy committees.

It’s unlikely Sasser will continue to represent Rowan County’s delegation after the 2022 elections because current maps stop his new district at the county line. Instead, if re-elected, he will represent a district that includes all of Stanly and Montgomery counties.

District 83 will comprise the southwestern portion of Rowan County and the northwestern corner of Cabarrus County, and does not contain an incumbent.

Warren, Howard, Sasser and Sen. Carl Ford, a Republican representing Rowan and Stanly counties in District 33, are all seeking re-election in 2022.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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