CategoryLocal

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.
 


Primary results certified in Seattle races

In Washington state, vote totals for Seattle and King County’s nonpartisan primaries were certified on August 20. The primaries were held on August 6, but the state uses a vote-by-mail system that delayed when the results would be counted and finalized.
 
The primaries included seven of Seattle’s nine city council seats, two of nine King County Council seats, and two of five Port of Seattle Commission positions. The general election is scheduled for November 5, 2019.
 
Here are the results of the Seattle City Council primaries:
 
District 1: Incumbent Lisa Herbold, first elected in 2015, advanced to the general election with 50.6% of the vote. Attorney Phil Tavel advanced with 32.3%.
District 2: Community organizer Tammy Morales and Seattle Police Department crime prevention coordinator Mark Solomon advanced to the general election with 50.1% and 23.2% of the vote, respectively. Incumbent and council president Bruce Harrell did not file to run for re-election.
District 3: Incumbent Kshama Sawant, first elected in 2013, advanced to the general election with 36.7% of the vote, as did Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce director Egan Orion, who received 21.5% of the vote.
District 4: Alex Pedersen, who previously worked as a legislative aide for former councilmember Tim Burgess, and journalist Shaun Scott advanced to the general election with 40.4% and 23.3% of the vote, respectively. Incumbent Abel Pacheco did not file to run for a full term on the council.
District 5: Incumbent Debora Juarez, first elected in 2015, advanced to the general election with 45.1% of the vote, and attorney Ann Davison Sattler advanced with 26.7% of the vote.
District 6: Dan Strauss, policy advisor to councilmember Sally Bagshaw, advanced to the general with 34.1% of the vote, and former councilmember Heidi Wills advanced with 21.2%. Incumbent Mike O’Brien did not file to run for re-election.
District 7: Assistant City Attorney Andrew Lewis advanced to the general with 31.7% of the vote, as did former Police Chief Jim Pugel with 24.8% of the vote. Incumbent Sally Bagshaw did not file to run for re-election.
 
Here are the results of the other four primaries:
 
King County Council District 2: Incumbent Larry Gossett, last elected in 2015, advanced to the general election with 36.7% of the vote, as did Girmay Zahilay with 56.1% of the vote.
King County Council District 8: Incumbent Joe McDermott, last elected in 2015, advanced with 83.9% of the vote, along with Michael Robert Neher, with 11.0%.
Port of Seattle Commission Position 2: Sam Cho advanced to the general with 31.1% of the vote, and Grant Degginger advanced with 24.5%. Incumbent Courtney Gregoire did not file to run for re-election.
Port of Seattle Commission Position 5: Incumbent Fred Felleman, last elected in 2015, advanced to the general with 72.4% of the vote, as did Garth Jacobson with 20.0% of the vote.
 
Primaries were canceled for two King County Council seats, assessor, elections director, superior court judgeships, and special district races since two or fewer candidates filed to run per position.
 
Seattle is the largest city in Washington state and the 22nd-largest city in the U.S. by population. King County had a population of 2,149,970 in 2013, according to the United States Census Bureau.
 
 


Tucson Democrats vie for spot on general election ballot in partisan primary for mayor

Tucson is holding partisan primary elections for mayor and three of seven city council seats on Tuesday. Six of the city council seats are elected at large, and the mayor occupies the seventh seat. The general election is scheduled for November 5, and the filing deadline passed on May 29.
 
Four candidates filed in the mayoral race. Three of the four candidates—Randi Dorman, Steve Farley, and Regina Romero—are competing in the Democratic primary. The fourth candidate, independent Edward Ackerley, will face the Democratic primary winner on the general election ballot. No Republican candidates filed to run. Incumbent Jonathan Rothschild (D) announced in December 2018 that he would not seek re-election, ensuring a newcomer will take the office. Rothschild was first elected mayor in 2011 and re-elected in 2015.
 
Tucson City Council Wards 1, 2, and 4 are also on the ballot. In Ward 1, incumbent Regina Romero chose to run for mayor rather than for re-election. Four Democrats filed to run for her seat. In Ward 2, Democratic incumbent Paul Cunningham is running for re-election against Republican Ewart Williams Jr. Ward 4 incumbent Shirley Scott did not file to run for re-election. Democrat Nikki Lee and Republican Michael Hicks are running for that open seat.
 
Tucson is the second-largest city in Arizona and the 32nd-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


St. Petersburg City Council primary scheduled for August 27

The city of St. Petersburg, Florida, is holding nonpartisan primaries on August 27 for Districts 3, 5, and 7 on the city council. The general election is scheduled for November 5, 2019. The candidate filing deadline passed on June 21, 2019.
 
District 3 incumbent Ed Montanari faces challenges from Orlando A. Acosta and Zachary James Collins. District 7 incumbent Lisa Wheeler-Bowman is running for re-election against Eritha Brandis Cainion, Chico Cromartie, and Sarah Elizabeth Moore.
 
District 1 incumbent Charlie Gerdes and District 5 incumbent Steve Kornell are both unable to run for re-election due to term limits. The District 1 race will not appear on the primary ballot. The two candidates who filed, Robert Blackmon and John Hornbeck, will both advance directly to the general election on November 5. In District 5, six candidates are competing for the open seat in the August 27 primary.
 
The St. Petersburg City Council is made up of eight members, each of whom is elected by one of the city’s eight districts. Council members serve four-year terms. St. Petersburg is the fifth-largest city in Florida and the 77th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


Three Idaho school board members up for recall on August 27

In Idaho, a recall election that could remove Tim Winkle, Alicia McConkie, and Marianne Blackwell from their positions on the Middleton School District board of trustees is scheduled for August 27.
 
The recall effort against Winkle and McConkie began after they voted to accept the superintendent’s personnel recommendations at a board meeting on May 6, 2019. Recall supporters objected to the superintendent’s recommendation since it did not renew the contract of Middleton High School’s principal, Ben Merrill. Board member Kirk Adams was also targeted for recall at that time, but his petition was rejected by the county because he had not served in office long enough to be recalled.
 
The separate recall petition against Blackwell was certified for the ballot on June 14. The recall petition against her said she “set an unprofessional and unacceptable precedent for school board trustees” and violated the board’s code of ethics. Blackwell was the only board member to vote against not renewing Merrill’s contract.
 
Winkle said that because the decision to not renew Merrill’s contract was a personnel matter, the board was limited in what they could share with the public. McConkie said she has served the best she could for the last two years and felt she was being targeted for recall over a single decision. Blackwell did not respond to the recall effort against her.
 
In order for the board members to be removed from office in the recall election, a majority of voters must vote in favor of the recall. The number of voters who cast ballots in favor of the recall must also be higher than the total number of people who voted for the officeholders when they were last up for election.
 
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.
 


Eight file for Richmond City Council special election

Eight candidates have filed to run in a special election for the District 5 seat on the Richmond City Council in Virginia. They had until August 16 to file for the seat, and the special election is on November 5.
 
The special election was called after Councilman Parker Agelasto announced his resignation in April as a condition struck with then-Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Michael Herring to avoid legal action for moving out of the district he represented. His resignation will be effective on November 30, 2019. Agelasto has served on the city council since 2013. The winner of the special election will serve the last year of Agelasto’s four-year term.
 
The eight candidates vying for the seat are Nicholas Da Silva, Stephanie Lynch, Jer’Mykeal McCoy, Robin Mines, Chuck Richardson, Graham Sturm, Mamie Taylor, and Thad Williamson. Richardson previously served on the city council from 1977 to 1995, while Taylor served as a Richmond school board member from 2012 to 2016.
 
Richmond is the fourth-largest city in Virginia and the 100th-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


Judge dismisses GOP petition challenge, leaving the Tucson sanctuary city initiative on the November ballot

On Friday, Pima County Superior Court Judge Douglas Metcalf rejected a lawsuit challenging the initiative signature petition for Tucson’s sanctuary city initiative. The ruling means the initiative will remain on the city’s November 5 ballot after being officially certified on August 6. If the initiative is approved, Tucson would become the first sanctuary city in Arizona.
 
The initiative would include in city code a declaration of the city’s sanctuary status and add a new section that includes provisions to:
 
  • restrict law enforcement officers from actions to determine a person’s immigration status under certain conditions;
  • prohibit officers from contacting federal law enforcement agencies to determine a person’s immigration status; and
  • prohibit city employees from inquiring about a person’s immigration status, among other policies.
 
The group Tucson Families Free and Together submitted about 18,000 signatures for the initiative on July 3, 2019. They needed to collect 9,241 valid signatures by July 5 to qualify the initiative for the November general election ballot. Through a random sampling of 871 signatures, the Pima County Recorder found that a projected 71.8% of the submitted signatures were valid. This sent the initiative to the city council, which had two options: (1) approve the initiative, enacting it into law without an election, or (2) put it on the ballot.
 
Three Tucson voters, assisted by the Pima County Republican Party, filed a legal challenge against the sufficiency of the initiative petition. The lawsuit argued that the signature requirement calculated by the city clerk for the initiative of 9,241 was too low and that, according to state law, the requirement should be 12,821. The lawsuit also argued that the Pima County Recorder “only conducted a cursory review of the signatures submitted by the Petitioners, failed to satisfy his statutorily defined duties, and only disqualified 798 signatures despite thousands of facially invalid signatures.” Judge Metcalf rejected the arguments and confirmed that the measure had been properly certified for the ballot.


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.
 


Lee defeats Lundquist in Los Angeles special election

The city of Los Angeles, California, held a nonpartisan special general election on August 13 for one of the 15 seats on the city council. John Lee and Loraine Lundquist faced off after both advanced from a pool of 15 candidates in the June 4 special primary. Lee won with 52.1% of the vote in the general election.
 
The vacancy on the city council was created when District 12 representative Mitchell Englander stepped down on December 31, 2018, to work for a sports and entertainment firm.
 
Lee was endorsed by the L.A. Jobs PAC, which is sponsored by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Lundquist was endorsed by the Los Angeles Times, the Green Party of Los Angeles County, and a number of Democratic Party clubs.
 
Los Angeles is the largest city in California and the second-largest city in the U.S. by population.
 


Colorado school board recall scheduled for November 5 as court challenges wrap up

A recall election seeking to remove board President Timothy Braun from his position on the Cripple Creek-Victor School District RE-1 school board in Colorado will be held on November 5, 2019. Board Treasurer Dennis Jones and Secretary Tonya Martin were also targeted in the initial recall effort, but they resigned from office in June 2019.
 
The three members were targeted for recall due to “multiple violations of Colorado state statutes, school board policies and resolutions, Sunshine laws and the Colorado Open Records Act,” according to Patty Waddle, a leader of the recall effort. Braun, Jones, and Martin disputed all of the claims listed on the recall petitions. Braun said Waddle was a disgruntled former employee.
 
The recall election was first scheduled to be held on July 16, 2019, but the election was put on hold after the three targeted board members filed an appeal with the Fourth Judicial District, seeking a stay on the recall election. They said the county clerk had shown favoritism to the recall supporters and should have required the group to start over when their first petitions did not have enough valid signatures rather than giving them a window of time to add additional signatures. Judge Scott Sells disagreed with the board members’ claims and ruled in favor of the county clerk, allowing the recall election to be placed on the ballot. Jones and Martin resigned from the board, but Braun appealed the decision to the Colorado Supreme Court. The supreme court dismissed his appeal on August 9, 2019, allowing the recall election to be scheduled. Because no special election could be held within 90 days of the regularly-scheduled general election on November 5, 2019, the recall election was added to that ballot.
 
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.
 


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