Elections are important everywhere.
However, in recent years, a good number of residents of Summerfield have believed that the very future of their town is on the line each time the voters go into the polls to elect their leaders. In the election earlier this month, those who want to see more growth in that town of about 11,000 people were considered the winners.
On one side, there are those pushing to “Keep Summerfield Rural,” and, on the other, there are those who say they want to see more growth, more businesses and a greater variety of housing options.
As the newly elected leaders are about to get sworn in, it’s those who lean more toward growth than keeping things the same who are celebrating.
Members of each side of the debate state they’re in favor of “reasonable” or “controlled” growth – however, there’s a wide divide on questions such as development ordinances, what constitutes proper housing density and how welcome new large stores and other businesses should be in Summerfield.
Earlier this month, the “pro-growth” forces for the small town got a boost: Town Councilmember Tim Sessoms, a former mayor who runs a staffing and HR consulting business, defeated Gail Dunham – also a former mayor – in the race for the seat currently held by Summerfield Mayor BJ Barnes. (Barnes, who chose not to run for that seat again, was also seen as someone on the side of more development.)
Dunham is a feisty and outspoken opponent of many moves desired by the more growth-oriented forces in town. Sessoms, on the other hand, is seen by most as someone much more favorable to growth and development.
In Summerfield, the mayor only votes in the case of a tie in a Town Council vote – however, that job is extremely important in setting the agenda for the town and determining the direction of future development.
Sessoms pulled in 58 percent of the vote while Dunham got 42 percent in the mayor’s race.
There was other bad news for those who want less growth in town. The election saw Teresa Perryman – who’s long been an outspoken opponent of those pushing for things like a town water system and higher density developments – removed from her seat.
Town council candidates John Doggett and Janelle Robinson won Summerfield Town Council seats by beating out incumbent Perryman and candidate Greg Fox. That was also seen as a victory for the “pro-growth” faction in town. Perryman was seen by many to be the only remaining opponent on the Town Council of the growth that now looks very likely to come to the town.