High stakes will be decided by comparatively few people in Monroe’s general election Oct. 8.There are contested races for mayor and three city council seats, and the results will likely decide the balance of power on the fractious city council that is split 4-3. We say likely because depending on the outcome, there’s a scenario where Monroe could wind up with a 3-3 split for some time – more on that later.The past two off-year general elections have seen scant turnout in Monroe.Just 8.5 percent of eligible voters, or 1,420 people, participated in 2011, according to the county Board of Elections. In 2009, turnout was 8.6 percent with 1,424 people casting ballots.Monroe has 18,326 registered voters, and they will be voting during a time of change for the city.There’s a new city manager, and the City Council has begun to adopt some reforms following a consultant’s report that blamed council members for helping perpetuate a dysfunctional city hall.One more thing. The few voters who do head to the polls in October will probably need to return in November. With this many candidates, there likely will be a runoff in at least one of the races. Winning candidates need to capture a majority of votes cast, as determined by state election rules. A runoff election would be held Nov. 5, the general election date for the rest of the region’s municipal races.The last Monroe runoff, in 2011, saw a 7.5 percent voter turnout and the winning candidate had a 58-vote margin.The racesWith all that in mind, here’s a look at the upcoming races.In the mayor’s contest, incumbent Bobby Kilgore is running against city Councilman Lynn Keziah and Kyle Hayes. The post is a two-year seat. There’s an even more crowded field running for city council, where eight people are seeking three positions.All three incumbents are looking to get re-elected to the four-year seats: Margaret Desio, Freddie Gordon and John Ashcraft. That trio, along with Keziah, form the board’s majority.The others running for council are former Monroe police chief Debra Duncan, Surluta Anthony, Cary Rogers, Joy Heath and Kenneth Graham.But it’s Duncan’s candidacy in particular that could tip the balance of power on the council.Duncan announced she was running for city council in July, the day after she confirmed plans she was going to retire Sept. 1. Desio and others in the board majority have been critical of Duncan’s activities as chief, while one of Duncan’s biggest council supporters, Dottie Nash, is in the board minority now.So if Duncan wins, she would knock off one of the incumbents and presumably tilt the balance of power to make the board minority the new majority.What’s at stake Here’s where things get more knotty.A Duncan victory would shift power to the current board minority if Kilgore, himself a former Monroe chief, also wins his race.If all three council incumbents win and Keziah wins the mayor’s race, that would strengthen the majority’s hold on the board. Here’s why: If Keziah wins, he would need to resign his council seat, and the council would appoint someone to serve out the remaining two years of Keziah’s council term, Board of Elections Director John Whitley said. That would allow the current majority to appoint Keziah’s replacement.But what if Keziah wins and Duncan bests one of the majority incumbents? That would leave the board split 3-3. And a council that already agrees on very little could have a hard time agreeing on who would replace Keziah and become the deciding vote on the board.The council seat would sit vacant until the board appoints a successor, Whitley said.To be sure, candidates other than Duncan also could win. There would be yet another dynamic if Anthony, Rogers, Heath, Hayes or Graham come out ahead. Whatever happens, it will be an interesting outcome controlled by not a lot of voters.
Tuesday, Sep. 24, 2013
Elections 2013: Plenty is at stake in Monroe’s Oct. 8 election
About the Monroe election Precinct change: The county Board of Elections has approved a move to temporarily transfer voters to alternative polling sites for the Oct. 8 election. Voters at Precinct (VTD) #25 Rock Rest Elementary School will vote at Precinct (VTD) #3 St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, 909 Circle Drive, Monroe. If a runoff election is required on Nov. 5, the same church site would also be used. This transfer is for this election only. Early voting: One-stop voting is open in the Union County Public Library’s Griffin Room, 316 E. Windsor St., Monroe. The site is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Last day is Oct. 5, a Saturday, from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Bell: 704-358-5696; Twitter: @abell
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