The mayor’s race for the Town of Summerfield got a whole lot more interesting on the morning of Friday, July 21 just before the noon close of filing for the 2023 election.
Incumbent Summerfield Mayor Tim Sessoms had been the only name on the ballot for the fall mayoral election. However, Linda Wendelken – the wife of outspoken newspaper owner Don Wendelken – filed to run on the last day of filing.
Linda Wendelken says that, after running a successful business for 23 years, she wants to bring some of the business acumen and common-sense leadership to the role of mayor of Summerfield.
The town of about 11,000 people has been greatly divided in recent years over the path of development – with some people, like farmer and developer David Couch, seeking to build higher-density developments – and others wanting to slow the process over worries that development in the town could take place too rapidly or in occur in unacceptable ways.
Couch has reportedly been attempting to get the State of North Carolina to de-annex from the town the land for his proposed development.
“Summerfield is currently at a crossroads with the uncertainty of de-annexation and other issues,” Linda Wendelken said on July 21 after filing to run. “We need to balance infrastructure with development.”
She also said the town could use a change in leadership.
“I look forward to serving the citizens of Summerfield and I believe fresh leadership is very important during these trying times,” she said.
She added that there are many key issues facing the town, such as the need to protect well water and septic systems. That would entail environmental studies to make sure that any development in Summerfield doesn’t endanger the natural water supply.
Bringing more “transparency” in Summerfield government is another key part of her platform.
For the past two decades, Wendelken has owned and run a local branch of Corporate Accommodations, a company which, among other services, rents out fully furnished living spaces to clients.
Her husband, Don Wendelken is a very familiar name in the town. He’s run for Summerfield Town Council before, served on a number of town boards and committees, and he served for years on the Guilford County Board of Elections.
He runs the Summerfield Scoop Facebook page and owns and runs a print newspaper by the same name.
He’s also a broadcaster: He livestreams Town Council meetings on Facebook for those who can’t attend and is fond of later offering his commentary on the Town Council’s actions.
When he was asked Friday if his newspaper would endorse Linda Wendelken over Sessoms, he chuckled and said that, when it comes to his media offerings and the mayor’s race, he’d be cautious.
“People will be watching us very closely,” he said.