Mayors race nearing the end


First Posted: 10/30/2009

Tom Joyce
Staff Reporter

After months of campaigning, the election to choose Mount Airys next mayor is now in the homestretch and both candidates are optimistic about the outcome.
Ive been very encouraged by the response from people, said Deborah Cochran, a member of the city board of commissioners since 2007 who is hoping to add the title of mayor to her resume on Tuesday.
I feel very positive about it, said Cochrans opponent, Teresa Lewis. Of course, its something you cant predict, Lewis added Friday of the election result.
Lewis and Cochran emerged as the top vote-getters in an Oct. 6 primary leading to Tuesdays showdown at the polls. The winner will replace Mayor Jack Loftis, who did not seek another term this year. The new mayor is scheduled to be sworn in at a council meeting in early December.
In the final days of the race, the two candidates have been engaged in last-minute campaigning, meeting as many voters as they can and soliciting their support both for Tuesday and in a round of early voting that began Wednesday.
Each is hoping for a big turnout, as opposed to that for the primary, which drew just under 20 percent of the electorate.
While there might be debate about who a huge turnout might benefit most, Cochran said Friday, A large turnout is good for everybody. Its good for the candidates and the city.
Both mayoral hopefuls have sought to wage positive campaigns characterized by limited criticism of city government and its recent actions as well as each other.
And both say they have teams of dedicated volunteers working on their behalf. But there has been one glaring difference between the two, the fact that Lewis has spent around $13,000 on her campaign.
Cochrans expenditures, meanwhile, have not reached the $3,000 threshold requiring them to be reported. She added Friday that she has worked hard to try to overcome her opponents monetary advantage.
Ive gone door to door, Ive gone to a lot of different areas, Ive been on the telephone a lot and Ive opted for making direct contact with people instead of spending a lot of money, Cochran said.
The numbers Im looking for are people.
Lewis, meanwhile, said she has been greeting citizens at the early voting site at the Municipal Building and is mounting a last-minute media blitz as well. In the next few days, we have some television ads running, and hopefully that will be a reminder to the voters that there is an election, she said.
And we will continue to talk to our supporters and even to people that we may not know and try to encourage them to go out and vote, added Lewis, who captured nearly 45 percent of the votes in the primary.
In defining her run for mayor, Lewis said, First of all, I would say that our campaign has been positive and that weve been very organized and enthusiastic.
On the other hand, Cochran said she has been stressing her conservative spending and tax philosophies among citizens she encounters, just using good common sense in city government. And my voting record reflects that.
Cochran also said that since she was elected as a commissioner in 2007, gains have been made in industry recruitment, although tough times persist for many in the community. Ive continuously been working on economic development, Cochran said.
The candidate added that a recent decision by two others in the primary, Gene Clark and Paul Eich, to support her in the general election has added a lot of momentum.
While Cochran cited her proven experience in local government, Lewis continued to stress her leadership skills in private business on Friday. Since 1989, Lewis, 50, has owned Workforce Carolina, one of the areas largest employers.
Cochran, 47, has been a broadcast personality for radio station WSYD since 1980 and taught fitness classes at Surry Community College for 18 years.
The office of mayor requires strong leadership, and I believe I have far more experience in that area, Lewis said.
She also defended the spending levels her campaign has reached. Honestly, I dont think too much money has been spent, Lewis said, referring to significantly higher amounts disbursed by candidates in other cities.
It is a normal thing to do, to raise money and to advertise, added the office-seeker, who emphasized that her financial commitment to the campaign will show the voters that I am serious and this is a serious race.
Lewis believes the monetary support she has garnered from various community members would gladly be accepted by any other candidate.
In the past couple of days, weve received more contributions, she added. As always, I would just like to say thanks for that outpouring of support.
Lewis said any leftover funds from her campaign will be donated to the scholarship fund at Reeves Community Center.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.

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