Two elections for one seat?

First Posted: 7/22/2009

Four candidates Gene Clark, Deborah Cochran, Paul Eich and Teresa Lewis are now vying for the Mount Airy mayors seat with the announcement by incumbent Jack Loftis that he would not seek re-election.
It is good to see a good number of diverse candidates running for the post.
What is perplexing, however, is the citys practice of having what is essentially a preliminary election in October to narrow the field to just two candidates before having the supposed real election in November.
There has, according to some sources, been off and on talk among city leaders of changing this to a single race, with all the candidates squaring off on a November ballot.
We think this is a good idea, and it cannot happen too soon.
Of course, no such amendment to how the city elects its mayor will happen for the 2009 election, but we hope city commissioners will take a serious look at making this change before the next mayoral election.
Holding two rounds of elections seems to be a wasteful exercise on at least two counts.
First, for the candidates. They all have to put quite a bit of money and effort into running for public office. Most folks in an election will tell you that to run a successful campaign is a non-stop effort, and the final week is a scrambling to cram as much work, as many public appearances, into a schedule as possible.
In Mount Airy, that means maximum effort in October, then for the top two vote-getters, another round of running, working, spending, for yet another ballot.
It just seems that is a great deal of wasted, unnecessary effort.
Second, and most important, this costs the taxpayers of Mount Airy. The costs associated with the November election are always going to be there. The additional cost an estimated $8,000 to $10,000 this year is hard to justify, especially in a time when the economy is suffering and the city is putting off needed projects because of monetary concerns.
Good or bad economy, it seems wasteful, and when taxpayer money is being thrown away, that practice needs to stop.

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