Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Voting strategy this election season Part 1: Davidson Mayor

During the 2015 election cycle, aShortChronicle published a piece about "supercharging" your vote in municipal elections.  With early voting starting at Cornelius Town Hall and other regional sites on October 28th now is the the time to start narrowing down your choices. ( can start early voting as early as Oct 19 if you are downtown near the Hal Marshall Annex.  It is the only early voting site open from 10/19 until the others open on 10/28.)

In Davidson, the dynamics this election season are quite different this time around, so here's some updated thinking on this topic.  It will be in two parts.

Part 1 covers Davidson's mayoral contest.

Davidson's mayoral race is setting up to be the most interesting contest North Mecklenburg has seen in over two decades.  Mayoral contests are often not even contests.  Instead, Mayoral candidates often run unopposed as is the case in Cornelius and Huntersville this year.  Races with three or more candidates are rare and competitive races with more than two candidates are rarer still.  According to data available from the Mecklenburg Board of Elections, since 1995 there have only been a few races in North Mecklenburg towns with three or more mayoral candidates.  Only one of those would be deemed truly competitive.   That would be the 2007 race for Huntersville Mayor.  See results below.

Jill Swain won this race with less than 50% of the vote.  That's the only time that has happened locally in any of the towns in at least two decades.  In all of the other races with three or more candidates, the winner got at least 50%.

In Davidson this year, the likelihood of a similar scenario to that 2007 Huntersville race is high with three candidates having bases of support and good name recognition.  John Woods, Rusty Knox, and Laurie Venzon will very likely all get a substantial percentage of votes.

If Woods was to win re-election it almost certainly would be with less than 50% of the vote with the "Not Woods" vote being a majority but split between Knox and Venzon.  As was pointed out in this piece, in the 2015 vote where Woods was unopposed, a substantial percentage of voters did not pull the lever for him even when he was the only name on the ballot.  More than 27% of voters that cycle left the Mayor's race blank or wrote in other names.  That does not bode well for him getting a majority of votes while facing serious opposition.  However, in a three way contest it also doesn't mean he will lose as was shown by the 2007 example in Huntersville.

So, how does Woods lose re-election?  He loses if the "Not Woods" vote coalesces around one of the two challengers.  This certainly can happen, but if it doesn't, Woods very well may win.

What can cause this coalescing to happen?  In the opinion of aShortChronicle this can only happen around the candidate most prepared to address the town's top problem when it comes to Town Hall, and that problem is "trust".  A lack of trust permeates nearly every issue originating from Town Hall whether those be legacy Mi-Connection problems or the myriad planning issues roiling the public in more recent years.  If people do not implicitly trust the Town's top elected official, getting them to trust ideas out of Town Hall will be nearly impossible.

So when looking for a choice for Mayor, look for the candidate who can best resolve the issue of trust.  Who is the candidate who has visible and obvious support from one end of town to the other?  That candidate will have the best shot at unifying the town.  Who is the candidate who has visibly fought the bad ideas out of Town Hall in recent years such as The Catalyst Project, Rural Area Plan mass rezoning, Beaty Street RFP, not letting voters have a say on major spending for a new Town Hall building, and the ill conceived Town Hall supported Griffith Street Hotel and Potts Street projects?  That candidate will have proven they are willing to fight against bad ideas and for what the people of this town want.

Answer those questions honestly, and you will know who to vote for this election.


  1. Knox! All the way!

  2. What about the candidate who worked to keep MI Connection from bankrupting the town in 2012? And, negotiated the $1mm subsidy cap when we were paying $2mm? Without these efforts we may not have had a town to speak of today. Development is not the only issue facing Davidson. Vote Venzon!

  3. The office of Mayor is that of a coach and referee. For that position we need experience in dealing with difficult people as well as complex issues. For this we need John Woods experience.