It’s one election down, and one to go for Monroe city council candidates.The run-off from the Oct. 8 election is set for Nov. 5, and two candidates are seeking the lone remaining city council seat. But in a sense, the biggest outcome of the election already has been decided.Recently retired Monroe police chief Debra Duncan convincingly won a seat this month, and does not have to worry about a run-off. Duncan’s victory, coupled with the easy re-election of Mayor Bobby Kilgore, himself a former Monroe police chief, ensures there will be a new majority and new dynamic on the often quarrelsome seven-member board.Duncan and Kilgore, along with Dottie Nash and Billy Jordan, will form the core of the new majority. Previously, Nash, Kilgore and Jordan found themselves in the minority.Three of the four members of the group that comprise the soon-to-end board majority, all of whom were up for re-election and decided to run again: John Ashcraft, Freddie Gordon and Margaret Desio.Duncan’s victory meant the outcome of two seats were left to be determined. The three incumbents, and challenger Surluta Anthony, were the next highest vote-getters.Last week’s certification and recount of the results led to a surprising turn: Desio, one of Duncan’s strongest critics when Duncan was chief, decided not to ask for a run-off. Desio said she was listening to family members who urged her to drop out because of all the tension on the board.Under state election rules, that left the county’s Board of Election to declare Gordon the winner of the second seat because he was the next highest vote-getter.After the certification of the election results, and a recount requested by Anthony, the results remained the same: Duncan had 1,391 votes, followed by Gordon with 1,034, Ashcraft with 1,033, Anthony with 1,026 and Desio with 905. Three other candidates and write-ins split the remainder of the votes, which also included provisional ballots.That left Anthony and Ashcraft to face each other in a run-off Nov. 5. Anthony is a Mecklenburg County probation officer who is aligned with Duncan and Kilgore. Ashcraft is a commercial real estate broker.Voters, at least those who showed up for an off-year election, appeared hungry to make their voices heard. Turnout stood at about 14 percent, well above other recent off-year elections where turnout was less than 8.5 percent. Monroe has about 18,300 registered voters.Board unsettledThey’ve seen their city make headlines for having to hire its fourth city manager since late 2000. More recently, about 10 percent of the police force was suspended without pay for a week for botching the handling of cases that forced prosecutors to drop cases against 39 people.And a consultant’s report detailed nepotism and interference by council members with the manager’s job. In August, the council approved two reforms that stemmed from the consultant’s report dealing with nepotism and hiring practices, with the vote split 4-3. Nash, Kilgore and Jordan voted against the plan. Two other reforms were under the manager’s jurisdiction and did not require a vote.But that report listed 11 recommended reforms. Nash and Jordan were critical of the report when it was issued – Nash in particular came under strong criticism in it – and it remains unclear what, if any, additional reforms the new board majority might adopt.
Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013
New dynamic coming to Monroe city council, even with one election remaining
Bell: 704-358-5696; Twitter: @abell
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