The voter turnout for the City Council election last week was about 15 percent, which is terrible and sounds even worse if you say that 85 percent of the voters stayed home.
What drives turnout in most election years is the top of the ticket. In this case that would be the mayor’s race, and Mayor Nancy Vaughan won with over 67 percent of the vote over Diane Moffett, a political newcomer who moved to Greensboro the same day she filed to run. There never seemed to be much doubt that Vaughan would win, and without an exciting mayor’s race a lot of voters stayed home.
The most interesting part of the returns was the votes that Vaughan received in east Greensboro. As usual the map detailing who won each precinct looked like Greensboro had been sliced right along the line between east and west. But in looking at the precinct returns, Vaughan didn’t win any precincts but she did get a lot of votes in east Greensboro.
One question that remains in the mayor’s race is, now that Moffett lost her bid to be mayor of Greensboro, will she sell her house in Jamestown and actually move to Greensboro or will she give up her apartment on North Elm Street and go back to living full time in Jamestown. I’m betting on the latter.
The at-large race turned out exactly how most people thought, with the exception that some thought City Councilmember Mike Barber would squeak through and he didn’t. Michelle Kennedy won by 99 votes.
That’s a close race, and when you look at who won the precincts, between the two of them it shows an interesting pattern. Kennedy was expected to win in east Greensboro Districts 1 and 2, which are the two minority majority districts, and she did, but Barber picked up seven precincts in those two districts. Barber won most of the precincts in Districts 3, 4 and 5, but Kennedy won about 12 precincts in those districts.
It’s good to have the at-large councilmembers elected from precincts all over the city. It indicates the city is not as divided as some people seem to think it is.
It’s a strange race because Kennedy and Barber weren’t actually running against each other. They were both running against the other five candidates. My comparison ignores everyone else and looked at them as if they were running head to head.
Of course, in the at-large race, Yvonne Johnson finished first and won far more precincts than anyone else.
City Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter finished second and might be referred to as everyone’s second choice. According to our unofficial count, in the six-way race Abuzuaiter tied with Johnson in one precinct and won three outright.
Abuzuaiter once was elected without winning a single precinct, which is a remarkable accomplishment.
The District 5 race was supposed to be close but it wasn’t. City Councilmember Tony Wilkins won five precincts and tied one. Tammi Thurm won all but one of the major precincts and ended up winning by 10 percent.
One way to interpret the election is that, for all but one at large seat, the people in Greensboro were basically in agreement about who should win, and that agreement stretched across what had been long-standing political boundaries.
So most people in most neighborhoods should be pleased with the election.
But the election is also an indication of how Democratic Greensboro has become in a state that is trending more Republican. The council is now made up of eight Democrats and one unaffiliated member. Kennedy is unaffiliated but she is definitely liberal.
Another amazing thing about this election is that other than District 3 Councilmember Justin Outling, all the men lost and the women won.
Outling will be hard to beat, but if decides not to run in four years we could have an all-female City Council. Then again, if in four years the voters don’t feel the women did a good job, they could elect a bunch of men to the City Council.
It appears that in four years there will be quite a bit of turnover. Vaughan and Johnson have both said that they don’t intend to run for reelection. District 4 City Councilmember Nancy Hoffmann has indicated that she doesn’t intend to run, and it would be surprising if District 2 Councilmember Goldie Wells, who has already retired from the City Council once, decided to run again. So it seems likely that at least four seats will be open and that will attract a crowd to run. In fact, with four open seats, the number filing to run might beat this year’s total of 38.