It has been a long, and for Mount Airy, contentious campaign season.
On Tuesday, the mayor’s seat, along with three commissioner seats, will be decided for the next four years — and indirectly, another commission seat should Steve Yokeley win the mayor’s post and have to vacant his commission seat.
Unlike more recent elections, every one of these have been contested, sometimes in ways haven’t quite been bitter, but certainly harder fought than the polite contests of recent years. Primaries were needed to whittle the North Ward election from three candidates to two, with incumbent Dean Brown now vying with N.A. Barnes for that seat; and four candidates seeking the at-large seat held by Jim Armbrister was reduced to Armbrister and Jerry Taylor.
In what was to be the only non-contested race — the South Ward seat held by Shirley Brinkley — two candidates, Bill Clark and Joe Reid, waited until after the filing deadline to declare themselves write-in candidates for her seat, thus avoiding the primaries altogether.
There have been allegations of funding offered to candidates in exchange for the candidates’ allegiance to support the Redevelopment Commission’s downtown redevelopment plan. There have been personal attacks, and it appears maybe even violations of widely known election laws.
In short, there has been a lot for voters to consider in this election.
As we wrote prior to the Oct. 6 primary, there are some stark contrasts between these candidates, not only on the redevelopment issue, but in how they carry themselves publicly; the respect (or lack thereof) they show for fellow candidates and voters; and in their ability to stick to basic campaign schedules, laws and rules, which gives us concern for how they might govern if given the chance.
And, of course, there have been the always present issues of jobs and economic development. Even here, we’ve seen some candidates stake out differences, with incumbents pointing to the job growth numbers in the city over the past four years and candidates seeking those seats stating those jobs, by and large, haven’t done anything significant in terms of building the local economy and have had no positive effects when it comes to advancing Mount Airy.
More than any election in recent memory, this one actually means something for local residents, and who is elected will have significant effects on how the city is run, how safe individual property owners and their rights downtown might remain, and whether taxpayers might find themselves on the hook for some expensive projects.
If there was ever a strictly local election that city residents should become involved in, this is it. We hope, regardless of what individual residents believe about the candidates or the issues, that all will turn out and cast a ballot.