High Point voters favor current leadership, but some races too close to call

by Jordan Green

High Point residents gave their current leadership on city council a vote of confidence, with Bernita Sims leading balloting for mayor, but the race remains undecided because the top votegetter failed to garner more than 40 percent of the vote. Voters also elected to keep current Mayor Becky Smothers and incumbent Britt Moore in the council’s two at-large seats.

Even as the top of the ticket reflected a preference for the status quo, voters turned out incumbents in two ward races, and filled open seats in three others. As a result, five out of nine members of the council will be newcomers.

Sims, who has represented Ward 1 on council since 2003, commanded 33.1 percent of the vote in unofficial results in Guilford County balloting. It was unclear at press time whether Coy Williard, who took second place with 27.2 percent of the vote, would request a runoff. Chris Whitley, who also currently serves on council, placed third with 18.4 percent of the vote. Matthew Fowler, a candidate who remained virtually invisible through the campaign took 11.1 percent, while Tammy Holyfield sputtered with 9.9 percent.

Smothers led balloting in the at-large race, with 28.6 percent of the vote, followed by Moore, with 19.2 percent. Three other candidates, Ed Squires Jr., Elijah Lovejoy and Cynthia Davis, fell short, each winning about 17 percent of the vote.

In Ward 4, which covers the wealthier sections of central High Point, lawyer and Uptowne community leader Jay W. Wagner will replace AB Henley. Wagner, who challenged the current mayor two years ago, convincingly beat Matthew Brett Moore, 64.9 percent to 34.8 percent.

In Ward 3, voters ousted a lonely conservative, replacing incumbent Michael D. Pugh with former mayor Judy Mendenhall. Pugh, who has represented the ward since 2005, consistently ended up the losing end of votes to raise taxes, but Mendenhall argued she could provide more effective representation as a team player.

Voters in Ward 6 replaced one-term incumbent Jim Corey with Jason Ewing. In a rematch of the 2010 election, Ewing won 52.4 percent of the vote to Corey’s 47.2 percent.

Jeff Golden led balloting in the Ward 1 race, with 26.7 percent of the vote, ahead of second-place finisher Orrick Quick, who cornered 24.5 percent. It was unclear at press time whether Quick would request a runoff. Three other candidates, including former Councilwoman Mary Lou Andrews Blakeney, missed the mark.

In Ward 5, Jim Davis bested two opponents with 59.7 percent of the vote. Davis was appointed to the city’s planning and zoning commission by Chris Whitley, who vacated the seat in his unsuccessful bid for mayor.