Election day is Nov. 3 and, if past turnout is any indication, only a small number of registered voters will go to the polls in Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville.
While the 2013 election produced a 17.71 percent turnout countywide, the turnout in the three southern towns was considerably lower.
In 2013, the last local election, only 2,189 votes were cast for Mint Hill mayor. There were 16,562 registered voters in the town at that time, making the turnout about 13 percent. Now there are 16,547 registered voters.
In Matthews, the turnout was equally low.
Out of 20,316 registered voters in 2013, only 2,411 – or about 12 percent – turned out to vote. Now there are 19,714 registered voters.
Pineville’s turnout was a little better – 749 out of 5,109 registered voters or around 15 percent headed to the polls. Today there are 4,990 registered voters in that town.
Mecklenburg County Board of Elections director, Michael Dickerson, said he expects turnout percentages to be about the same this time around.
“Even though many new people have moved in these towns, many times they don’t register to vote until a presidential election year. I suspect that Matthews, Mint Hill and Pineville will see a slight pick up in voters because of the at large school board race, but all I can do is make voting available. It’s the candidates that get the people out to vote,” Dickerson said.
“If we can get the turnout up countywide to 18-20 percent and pick up a point or two in the towns, I think it will be a good turnout.”
In addition to voting for three at-large school board seats, voters in each municipality will get the chance to determine who runs their towns for the next two years.
Two candidates are running for mayor – incumbent Mayor Jim Taylor and Robert Guy Powell III.
Eight candidates are running for six two-year term commissioner seats.
Matthews commissioner candidates are John Higdon, Gina Hoover, Christopher Melton, Jeff Miller, John Ross, Nobie Thrasher, John Urban, and Larry Whitley.
Incumbent commissioner Kress Query is not running for re-election and appointed commissioner George Fawcett will not seek a seat on the board.
Mayor Ted Biggers is running unopposed for his ninth term.
All four incumbent commissioners are hoping to be elected for additional two-year terms as are four challengers.
Mint Hill Commissioner candidates are Lloyd Austin, Dale Dalton, Carl “Mickey” Ellington, Harry Marsh, Alan McKenzie, Richard “Fig” Newton, Katrina “Tina” Weaver Ross and James Stapleton.
Mayor Jack Edwards is running unopposed for a two-year term, but this year, the council seats transition to four-year, staggered terms.
That means the two highest votegetters for Pineville town council will serve four-year terms. The candidates placing third and fourth will serve two years terms, with their seats up for re-election in 2017.
The terms will be staggered every four years from that point forward with two council seats and the mayoral seat up for re-election every two years.
Candidates running for Pineville town council are Deborah Fowler, L.R. “Les” Gladden, John Harless, Chris McDonough, Adam Perkins, David Phillips, Jonathan James Rutkowski, Julianna Tinklenberg and Juliet Van Dyke.
Incumbent council member Melissa Rogers Davis is not running for re-election.
Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Early voting started last week and continues through Oct. 31.
Hours are: Sunday, 1-4 p.m.; Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Registered voters can vote at any early voting site in the county.
In the Matthews/Mint Hill/Pineville area, early voting is available at Mint Hill Library, Matthews Library, South County Regional Library, and Elon Park Recreation Center.
Polls open Nov. 3 at 6:30 a.m. Voting continues until 7:30 p.m.
For more information about candidates, to see a sample ballot or to check your polling place, visit www.meckboe.org