New Mayors And Commissioners Coming To Area Town Halls
Updated Nov. 9, 2017
Tuesday's election will bring big changes in many town halls around the Charlotte area. In Davidson, voters unseated the mayor and two incumbent town commissioners. And new mayors were elected in Matthews, Concord, Gastonia and Cornelius.
Here's a look at some of the results:
Mayor Scott Padgett's decision this summer to retire after 16 years set up a scramble to replace him. Bill Dusch won the five-way race, with 40 percent of the vote. Dusch is a tech entrepreneur who has served on several local boards and commissions over the past 30 years.
With the retirement of Mayor Jim Taylor, Matthews voters replaced him with former town commissioner and current Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board member Paul Bailey. Bailey was also Taylor's pick, winning the mayor's endorsement this fall.
Bailey got 57.5 percent of the vote, to 41.7 percent for current town board member Larry Whitely. Whitley is a former state trooper and church pastor who was the first African American ever elected to the town board two years ago.
In the town board race, all four incumbents were re-elected, along with two newcomers. Incumbent John Higdon, Chris Melton, Jeff Miller and John Urban will return to the board along with Barbara Dement and Kress Query. Query is a former mayor who served on the board until 2015.
Rusty Knox easily defeated five-term incumbent John Woods and former town board member Laurie Venzon to become Davidson's new mayor. Voters also unseated two incumbent town commissioners, leaving the board with four newcomers and one incumbent.
Knox, a musician and real estate agent, was endorsed by the citizens group Save Davidson, which led a campaign to unseat incumbents amid worries over growth and development.
He's the son of a former mayor, Russell Knox, who served in the 1980s and 1990s.
"It's surreal," Knox said Tuesday night. "People were genuinely concerned about the future of Davidson, and I think people came out to the polls in astonishing numbers and said we would like to see a change."
Knox won 2,201 votes (57 percent), easily defeating Woods (1009, 26.1 percent) and Venzon (650, 16.8 percent), according to unofficial results.
Two years ago, a little over 1,000 people voted, and Woods was unopposed. But Knox was actually a write-in vote that year, by 45 people.
On Tuesday, nearly 3,800 people voted. Knox said concern about growth and development spurred a heavier turnout this time around.
He said he wants to revisit the town planning ordinance and comprehensive plan, "and see if we can dial Davidson back into a slower pace of growth than the fast pace that we're at right now."
The new town board will include incumbent Jim Fuller, who was the top vote-getter, along with newcomers Matthew Fort, Autumn Michael, Jane Campbell and David Sitton. Sitton finished just eight votes ahead of sixth place finisher Shana Erber, according to unofficial results. That could change once final absentee votes are counted, and if Erber decides to ask for a recount.
Both Sitton and Erber were endorsed by Save Davidson, as were Fort, Michael and Fuller.
Members of the group celebrated afterward, with one leader posting on Facebook: "Saved Davidson."
Current commissioners Stacy Anderson and Rodney Graham lost their seats.
Davidson voters also overwhelmingly approved three separate bond questions, totaling $15 million. They'll be used to pay for streets and sidewalks, greenways and parks and recreation projects. All three got about two-thirds "yes" votes.
Woody Washam will be the town's new mayor. The current town board member ran unopposed to replace current Mayor Chuck Travis, who is stepping down.
Incumbent Mike Miltich led the voting for five town board seats, finishing just ahead of newcomer Kurt Naas. Naas gained a following in the Lake Norman area in recent years by leading a campaign against the NCDOT's plan for toll lanes on I-77.
Also in the top five were incumbent Dave Gilroy, Dennis Bilodeau and incumbent Thurman Ross. The results are unofficial and that fifth seat could change with absentee ballots or a recount. Ross got just five more votes than another incumbent, Jim Duke.
Mayor John Aneralla had an easy time of it Tuesday - he was unopposed. But the town board race was hotly contested.
Current board member Melinda Bales was re-elected to a fourth term and topped the field, with 3,061 votes. Behind her for the rest of the six seats were political newcomers Brian Hines and Nick Walsh, and incubments Dan Boone, Mark Gibbons and Danny Phillips.
Ted Biggers was unopposed and will serve another term as mayor. The four-person board will include incumbents Tina Ross, Richard (Fig) Newton, Dale Dalton and one newcomer, Mike Cochrane.
Voters re-elected Jack Edwards as mayor. He defeated two challengers with 57 percent of the vote.
On the town council, newcomers Joe Maxim and Melissa Davis were elected along with incumbents Les Gladden and Christopher McDonough.
Former city council member Walker Reid upset incumbent Mayor John Bridgeman, who has held the job since 2011. Reid is a Gastonia native and retired assistant fire marshal in Mecklenburg County. He served on the city council from 1995 to 2011.
Voters re-elected incumbent city council members Robert Kellog and Dave Kirlin along with Jennifer Stepp, who takes over for Porter McAteer, who did not run.
Mayor Miles Atkins easily fended off a challenge from James F. (Toodles) Ritchie, winning 80 percent of the vote.
The race for the open mayor seat in Hickory was tight. Hank Guess defeated Will Locke, receiving close to 52 percent of the vote. For Alderman of Ward 5, David Zagaroli easily beat Matthew Maulding with nearly 72 percent of the vote.
NCSBE.gov, N.C. State Board of Elections page, live searchable results