Author

Daniel Anderson

Daniel Anderson is a managing editor at Ballotpedia and can be reached at daniel.anderson@ballotpedia.org

Ballotpedia launches comprehensive coverage of North Carolina local elections

There are 503 cities, towns, and villages across North Carolina holding elections for 1,900 positions this year, and for the first time ever, Ballotpedia’s sample ballot is expanding to encompass every election in a state, even in the smallest villages. In addition to the municipal races, there are nine school districts holding elections for 23 school board seats and 17 special districts holding elections for 52 seats; no counties are holding elections. This adds up to 529 localities holding elections for 1,975 positions in North Carolina this year.
 
Local elections in North Carolina can follow four different methods during odd-numbered years:
 
1.) In partisan elections where runoffs are possible, the primary is on September 10, the primary runoff is on October 8, and the general election is on November 5. Primary runoffs may be held if no candidate receives at least 30% of the primary vote; however, the primary runoff is only held if the second-place candidate requests it. In 2019, only Charlotte and Sanford are following this method.
 
2.) In nonpartisan elections where runoffs are possible, the general election is on October 8 and the general runoff election is on November 5. General runoffs may be held if no candidate receives at least 50% of the general election vote; however, the general runoff is only held if the second-place candidate requests it. In 2019, only Atlantic Beach, Cary, Dobbins Heights, Dunn, Elizabeth City, Erwin, Henderson, Monroe, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, and Statesville are following this method.
 
3.) In nonpartisan elections with primaries where runoffs aren’t possible, the primary is on October 8 and the general election is on November 5. If only two or fewer candidates file to run per seat, the primary is not held and the candidates who filed advance automatically to the general election. In 2019, only Asheboro (and Asheboro City Schools), Bermuda Run, Burlington, Durham, Fayetteville, Flat Rock, Fletcher, Goldsboro, Hendersonville, Hickory, High Point, Jamestown, Matthews, Mooresville, Mount Airy, Pleasant Garden, Powellsville, Ramseur, Shelby, Southern Pines, and Windsor are following this method.
 
4.) In nonpartisan elections without primaries where runoffs aren’t possible, the general election is on November 5. These are plurality elections in which the candidate who receives the most votes wins; the winner does not need to meet a certain threshold of the overall vote to avoid a runoff. All other North Carolina local elections in 2019 are following this method.
 
Across the state, there are 65 local positions where no candidates filed to run. This includes the mayor’s office in 19 municipalities, the city or town council in 43 municipalities, and board positions in two special districts. These positions will be filled by write-in candidates who have been certified by their county board of elections.
 
Three of the state’s largest cities—Charlotte, Durham, and Raleigh—are among those holding elections in 2019. The mayor’s office is on the ballot in all three cities, and so are all 11 city council seats in Charlotte, three of seven city council seats in Durham, and all seven city council seats in Raleigh.
 
North Carolina’s local filing deadline passed on July 19, 2019. However, municipalities were permitted by the state government to extend their filing deadline by one week. There are also some exceptions to the statewide filing deadline; in Catawba County, Hickory Public Schools and Newton-Conover City Schools both have their filing deadline on September 6.
 


Colorado recall on Tuesday rooted in commercial activity zoning conflict

In Colorado, Estes Park Mayor Pro Tem Cody Walker is facing a recall election on August 20. Prior to the recall effort beginning, the city government had approved code changes that would allow for commercial development and activity in some areas that had been zoned for residential use.
 
Recall supporters listed six grounds for Walker’s recall. The allegations were that he (1) changed the city’s development code for personal gain, (2) did not follow proper protocol for approving development projects, (3) proceeded with a development project that violated the zoning regulation’s intended purpose, (4) failed to recuse himself from voting on matters in which he had a conflict of interest, (5) damaged the community’s relationship with the city government, and (6) did not follow the city’s code of conduct and policies.
 
In response to the recall effort, Walker told the Estes Park Trail-Gazette, “I have a long history here. I raised my family here, so I’m interested in making the community better. I think all of these statements are baseless. I was elected to work on issues like parking, housing, community and the business climate. I’m going to keep doing that because [voters] asked me to.”
 
Initially, recall supporters also targeted Estes Park Mayor Todd Jirsa on the grounds that his supervision of the city’s planning commission was inadequate. In response, Jirsa stated, “The town board nor the mayor does not supervise planning staff. In fact, to do so would be in violation of our policy governance. It isn’t our job.” The recall effort against Jirsa ended when not enough petition signatures were found valid for the recall to move forward. Petitioners were required to submit valid signatures equal to 25 percent of votes cast in the most recent election for that office—553 signatures for Jirsa and 450 signatures for Walker. The town clerk found 391 signatures against Jirsa valid and 454 signatures against Walker valid.
 
In 2018, Ballotpedia covered a total of 206 recall efforts against 299 elected officials. Of the 123 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 77 were recalled for a rate of 62.6 percent. That was higher than the 56.9 percent rate and 56.3 percent rate for 2017 and 2016 recalls, respectively.
 


Wichita mayor faces eight primary challenges in bid for second term

Nonpartisan primaries are scheduled on August 6 for mayor and one school board seat in Wichita, Kansas. The mayoral race features nine candidates, including incumbent Jeff Longwell. Although the position is nonpartisan, Longwell is affiliated with the Republican Party. He was first elected as mayor on April 7, 2015, with 59.4% of the vote. In the Wichita Public Schools Board of Education at-large race, incumbent Sheril Logan faces three opponents. Logan was first elected in 2011. The general election for both races is on November 5, and their candidate filing deadline passed on June 3.
 
Three city council seats could have also been on the primary ballot, but three or fewer candidates filed for each of the positions. The primaries were canceled and all candidates who filed automatically advanced to the November 5 general election. District 2 incumbent Becky Tuttle and District 4 incumbent Jeff Blubaugh each face two opponents, while District 5 incumbent Bryan Frye has one opponent.
 
Two school board seats in Wichita Public Schools also had their primaries canceled. District 3 incumbent Ernestine Krehbiel is running unopposed for re-election, while District 4 incumbent Stan Reeser faces one opponent in the November 5 general election. The school board has seven members, six of whom are elected to represent specific districts and one of whom is an at-large representative.
 
Wichita is the largest city in Kansas and the 48th-largest city in the U.S. by population. Wichita Public Schools served 50,600 students during the 2016-2017 school year.
 


One Democrat, four Republicans file for California Assembly special election

The filing deadline to run for the District 1 seat in the California State Assembly passed on July 3. The following five candidates filed: Elizabeth Betancourt (D), Megan Dahle (R), Patrick Henry Jones (R), Lane Rickard (R), and Joe Turner (R).
 
The top two vote recipients in the August 27 primary, regardless of their party, will advance to the special general election on November 5. The District 1 seat was vacated by Brian Dahle (R), who was elected to represent District 1 of the California State Senate on June 4 in another special election. Megan Dahle is his wife.
 
As of July 10, 65 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 24 states. This is the third state legislative special election in California this year. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.
 
Entering the special election, the California State Assembly had 61 Democrats, 18 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 41 seats. California is one of 14 Democratic trifectas. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 


Nearly half of 2019’s state legislative elections lack either a Democrat or Republican candidate

Nearly half of all state legislative seats up for election in 2019 have only one Democratic or Republican Party candidate.
 
Overall, 192 (48.7%) of the state legislative elections this year lack either a Democratic or Republican candidate. So far, every state legislative regular election does have at least one major-party candidate on the ballot.
 
By comparison, 2,017 (33.2%) of the state legislative elections in 2018 had no major-party competition. This consisted of 746 (12.3%) seats without a Democratic candidate and 1,271 (20.9%) seats without a Republican in the race.
 
Four states—Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and Virginia—are holding regularly scheduled state legislative elections this year for 538 seats. The filing deadline has passed for 394 of those seats; Louisiana’s filing deadline is set for August 8. Of those 394 seats, 91 (23.1%) do not have a Democratic candidate on the ballot, and another 101 (25.6%) do not have a Republican candidate.
 
Here is a breakdown of the stats for each state:
  • Mississippi has 174 state legislative seats on the ballot. Of those, 78 (44.8%) do not have a Democratic candidate and 55 (31.6%) do not have a Republican candidate. Overall, 133 (76.4%) of Mississippi’s state legislative elections lack a candidate from one major party. In Mississippi’s previous state legislative election in 2015, there were 116 (66.7%) seats on the ballot without major-party opposition.
  • New Jersey has 80 state legislative seats on the ballot. Of those, all of them have a Democratic candidate but three (3.8%) do not have a Republican candidate. Overall, three (3.8%) of New Jersey’s state legislative elections lack a candidate from one major party. In 2017, two (1.7%) of the state’s 120 state legislative elections lacked either a Democratic or a Republican candidate. The 2019 and 2017 percentages are both lower than the 2015 figure; in 2015, eight (10.0%) of the 80 state legislative seats on the ballot had no major-party opposition.
  • Virginia has 140 state legislative seats on the ballot. Of those, 13 (9.3%) do not have a Democratic candidate and 43 (30.7%) do not have a Republican candidate. Overall, 56 (40.0%) of Virginia’s state legislative elections lack a candidate from one major party. In 2017, only the 100 seats of the state House were up for election. Since 40 of those seats had no major-party opposition, that meant that the percentage of Virginia state legislative elections lacking either a Democratic or Republican candidate remained static at 40.0% for both cycles. In 2015, however, the figure was higher since 91 (65.0%) of the 140 state legislative seats on the ballot had no major-party opposition.
Mississippi and New Jersey have Republican and Democratic state government trifectas, respectively. Virginia has a divided government with a Democratic governor but a Republican-held state House and state Senate. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 


Borrello wins Republican primary in New York State Senate special election

The District 57 seat in the New York State Senate was up for special primary election on June 25. Austin Morgan (D) and George Borrello (R) advanced from the primary to the general election, which is scheduled for November 5. Morgan ran unopposed and won the Democratic nomination by default, while Borrello defeated Curtis Crandall with 63.7% of the unofficial election night vote in order to win the Republican nomination. The District 57 seat was vacated by Catharine Young (R), who stepped down on February 28, 2019, to take a leadership position at the Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture at Cornell AgriTech. The candidate filing deadline passed on April 4.
 
As of June 26, 64 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 24 states. This is the only state legislative special election currently on the ballot in New York this year. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year nationwide.
 
Entering the special election, the New York State Senate had 40 Democrats, 22 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 32 seats. New York has a Democratic trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
 


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