Saturday, July 15, 2017

Filing period half-time report for Davidson electoral contests

At the midway point in the two week filing period, this year's election in Davidson is setting up to be the most competitive in many years.

There will be a real race for Mayor with 3 candidates in the mix - all of them totally viable from an electoral standpoint.  On the Commissioners side of the ballot, 8 candidates have already filed.

Incumbents Mayor John Woods and Commissioners Rodney Graham and Stacey Anderson have filed for re-election.  The other incumbent Commissioners, Beth Cashion, Jim Fuller, and Brian Jenest have declined to answer when previously asked whether or not they will seek to stay on the Board.  (They were not asked again for this post as the public will find out soon enough anyway.)

The incumbents face a slew of challengers which will create interesting dynamics in the two different races.

So far, Mayor Woods faces Rusty Knox and Laurie Venzon.  Knox is very well known around town and has been leading the charge over the past couple of years against some of the unpopular ideas emanating from Town Hall.  Venzon is a former Commissioner seeking to return to the Board in the top spot as Mayor.  The dynamic, and danger from the challengers' perspective, in a three way race is that the challengers split the anti-incumbent vote and the incumbent squeaks by.

As an example, in a two way head to head race against an unpopular incumbent, it would seem likely either Knox or Venzon would beat Woods handily - say 60% to 40%.  However, in a three way race if Knox and Venzon split the anti-Woods vote and Woods's share of the vote is solid, then Woods could stay in office winning 40%, 30%, 30%.  In this scenario one of the challengers has to win an overwhelming share of the anti-incumbent vote.

On the Commissioner's race several new faces are on the ballot already.  There is also the distinct possibility of 1 or more "open seats".  In Davidson, all 5 Commissioners are always up for election at-large.  The term "open seat" just means an incumbent has decided to not seek re-election.  When that happens it attracts more challengers because it is guaranteed there will be a new face to fill each open seat.

Beating incumbents is always hard to do, but in this election, the incumbents have supported various unpopular projects in varying degrees over the past two years.  Between the real possibility of open seats and this incumbent unpopularity the dynamic of the race can change dramatically.  The top five vote getters make the Board, and this race is shaping up to be close with the potential of an anti-incumbent wave.

However, just like things can change in the second half of a Davidson Wildcats basketball game, we will have to wait and see what happens next week in the second half of the filing period.

The buzzer sounds and filing closes Friday, July 21st at noon.

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