10/15/2020 6:22:00 AM Back of the Ballot Races Are Also Important
CLICK HERE to see the video supplied by Dr. John "Les" Cloninger
CLICK HERE to see the video supplied by Christine Poinsette
We did not receive a video from Roby Jetton or Tom Flohr in time for them to be linked to this article. If we receive them later, we may attach them to the article then, and we may put the links in other election articles.
Wayne Howard Staff Writer
Three years ago, the NC General Assembly considered adopting a new state elections law that would have put municipal elections in even-numbered years and made them partisan. The Republican majority, which controlled both the NC House and NC Senate, thought that moving the elections to the same years as Congressional & Presidential elections would help their local candidates, because many parts of North Carolina favored Republicans over Democrats and because that might help their local candidates to 'ride the coattails' of those running for higher offices. There was also the argument that holding even year elections would save the towns and cities money--since they were having to pay Elections Boards to run elections in odd-numbered years.
The North Carolina League of Municipalities opposed the measure, and eventually, the legislation (House bill 64 and Senate bill 94) didn't get passed; but as they were being discussed, the Lincolnton City Council, expecting their passage, changed Lincolnton's city elections to even-numbered years.
The Council voted earlier this year to ask Rep. Jason Saine, who introduced the legislation to change the elections to even-numbered years, to have them returned to odd-numbered years. Councilman Marty Eaddy said he felt having the city election in even-numbered years with other state and national elections left the local elections overshadowed. Only Councilman Roby Jetton voted against that motion; but Saine never introduced any bill to change the elections back to odd-numbered years.
This is a Presidential election year. North Carolina is also choosing one of its two US Senators. There are many other statewide races. While those races may take center stage, the back of the ballot has many important races including four of seven seats on the Lincoln County Board of Education, three of the five seats on the Lincoln County Commission, and two of the four seats on the Lincolnton City Council.
In one of those City Council races, Christine Poinsette, the GOP candidate, will seek the seat for ward 2, running against Dr. John "Les" Cloninger, the Democrat. Dr. Cloninger was first appointed to the seat previously held by his first wife, Marcia. She passed in 1999. He was re-elected until 2015, then in early 2016, he was diagnosed with cancer and left the Council seat, to which former mayor David Black was appointed. The change in the law that put Lincolnton's city elections in even-numbered years specified that the seats for wards 2 & 4 would have elections in 2020. In 2018, Dr. Jim Watson ran for the short term representing Ward 2. This year, he decided not to seek re-election. Cloninger, who had retired from his dental practice, decided he'd try to return to the Council seat he held for several years.
If this seems like deja vu, it was when Cloninger last ran in 2015 that his opponent was Poinsette's husband, Gene. Christine was then serving as chair of the Lincoln County Planning Board, a post she held for three of her years on that board. In 2018, she ran for County Commissioner, but came in third in the election for two seats. This year, she decided to run for City Council.
The other City Council race is for the Ward 4 seat currently held by Roby Jetton. The Republican Councilman is the second GOP member of the City Council in over a century. [The late Devin Rhyne was the first; John Gilleland was the first GOP mayor.] Prior to 1984, Lincolnton had a mayor and alderman form of government; it was changed to a city manager form with a mayor and council that year.
Jetton is considered by many a sports hero. He was a Golden Gloves boxer and a high school athletic standout. Years ago, Jetton was a Democrat, and was active in helping to elect many Democratic candidates.
His opponent is Tom Flohr, who owns Trident Trikes on N. Poplar Street. His wife Betty operates Treasures on Main and is the Executive Director of the Downtown Development Association.
The other two seats on the Council will be up for election in 2022. Part of the change that put Lincolnton's city elections in even-numbered years was a change to having the mayor's post elected every four years instead of two. Mayor Ed Hatley's current term won't expire until 2022.
The City Council election is just one of several that are on the back of the ballot. They're important races; be sure to vote the back of the ballot, too.
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