When the dust finally settled as the candidate filing period ended on Friday, Mount Airy residents found themselves with something they haven’t seen in a long time — a field of candidates for several public offices up for election this fall.
In recent years city elections have been marked largely by uncontested races. We understand that to a degree — after all, people primarily vote in two ways: with their pocketbooks and based on name recognition.
Over the past five years the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners has done a good job of cutting taxes, slicing 10 cents off of the city tax rate while maintaining a high level of quality services for city residents.
And, the board members get their names in the paper all the time with ribbon cuttings and meeting coverage, so they enjoy a name recognition advantage most non-incumbents can only dream of.
Still, as we’ve mentioned on this page several times, a number of serious issues have come before the city commission over the past 18 months or so, and there have been some spirited discussions, and disagreements, among those serving on the board.
Even more surprising, this board has on several occasions voted against overwhelming public sentiment — most recently in secret meetings leading to the establishment of the Downtown Redevelopment Commission, which many of us still do not trust.
So it is good for all residents to see some honest-to-goodness choices this year for most seats.
Here are the races, by seat, and the candidates running:
North Ward commissioner — incumbent Dean Brown, N.A. Barnes and Bruce Springthorpe.
• At-large commissioner — incumbent Jim Armbrister, Gene Clark, Gail Proffitt and Jerry Taylor.
• South Ward commissioner — incumbent Shirley Brinkley will face no opposition.
• Mayor — Steve Yokeley and David Rowe. Yokeley is now the city’s other South Ward commissioner and has assumed the duties of mayor since Deborah Cochran resigned from her post in March. His commission seat is not up for re-election, though he will have to give up that seat if he wins the mayoral post.
There will be an Oct. 6 primary to whittle the field a bit, because the city does not allow more than two candidates to appear on the ballot for each position, which means the election season truly is upon us. We hope city residents will take advantage of this — turning out for forums, questioning the candidates, and most of all turning out in large numbers for both the Oct. 6 primary and the Nov. 3 general election.
In the end, the make-up of the board may not change, or we may see quite a few new faces — the important factors are that there are choices, and that most of the city residents take part in the election process.