It’s been a long strange trip, but the newly elected Greensboro mayor and City Council were sworn into office on Thursday, Aug. 11.
The Katie Dorsett Council Chamber was packed with family, friends and campaign workers for the first ceremonial meeting of the City Council elected on July 26.
So the longest City Council term in the history of Greensboro is finally over and the newly elected members of the City Council will serve about a three-year-and-four-month term, instead of the four-year term as is designated by law.
The City Council election was originally scheduled for Nov. 2, 2021, and was initially postponed to April or May 2022 because the Census data was not available in time to draw new City Council districts. What has been largely overlooked in the interim is that City Attorney Chuck Watts informed the City Council that, while technically redistricting was required, in his opinion the City Council could hold the 2021 election in the old districts. Of the five City Council districts, only District 2 was out of compliance with the ideal district and that was by 5.02 percent.
However, the City Council voted to redistrict, appointed a redistricting committee and then ignored the committee’s recommendation and selected a different redistricting map.
Then – after filing for what was to be a March primary had been open for three days – the North Carolina Supreme Court closed filing and postponed the March primary to May 17 in order to settle disputes about statewide redistricting.
With the primary set for May 17, there were two possible dates for the General Election – July 5 and July 26. The North Carolina legislature wisely picked the July 26 date.
In the normal course of events, after the Nov. 2, 2021 election, the newly elected City Council would have been sworn in on Dec. 2, 2021. But with all the delays the terms of the City Council elected in 2017 were extended and extended again, so instead of serving for four years that City Council served for about four years and eight months.
In the end, it didn’t make much difference since in the July 26 election the mayor and the seven members of the City Council who ran for reelection all won. District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling ran for mayor rather than reelection and lost. The new District 3 City Councilmember Zack Matheny ended up running unopposed when his opponent, Chip Roth, dropped out of the race for health reasons.
Despite some hesitancy and one official challenge, the election night winners were certified by the Guilford County Board of Elections. There is always some discrepancy between the election night results and the final results, in part because absentee ballots mailed by Election Day will be counted if received by the Friday after the election, and there are provisional ballots that the Board of Elections has to decide whether or not to count.
Mayor Nancy Vaughan had the closest race of the election winning by a mere 435 votes. The election night results had Vaughan winning over Outling by 425 votes.