The election of 2008 was by all measures a heavyweight bout between two fierce adversaries vying for position in races that ranged from county commissioner to the highest elected office in the land. That title fight between Barack Obama and John McCain, surely the main event, enticed people who theretofore had no interest in politics into registering to vote, following the campaign and then participating in the biggest US election of the modern era.
More than 132 million Americans voted in 2008 — the most ever — many of them for the first time. And while we understand the desire to participate in such a historic moment, we implore the voters in the Triad to keep their eyes on the ball.In terms of elections, 2009 is an off year. The two biggest contests in Forsyth and Guilford counties this year will be for seats on the Winston-Salem and Greensboro city councils. And the campaign dollars spent are insignificant when compared to the war chests amassed by the candidates running for office last year. You might even think that municipal elections are real snoozers, undercard matches that don’t have any of the luster and intrigue that happen every four years.
But you’d be wrong.
If you are not following Election 2009 in Winston -Salem and Greensboro, you are missing some of the best political theater we at YES! Weekly have ever seen.
Consider this: In Winston-Salem, 23 candidates vie for seats representing seven wards, among them a 28-year-old juvenile justice counselor, James Taylor, and a retired cop and current president of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County NAACP, Jimmie Boyd, who face off against incumbent Evelyn Terry in the Southeast Ward. In the North Ward, the seat vacated by longtime incumbent Nelson Malloy is up for grabs between four new candidates, one of whom, Denise “DD” Adams, lost a 1990 bid for the NC House of Representatives by just 100 votes and currently serves as vice-chair for the 5th Congressional District.
And in Greensboro, the 2009 municipal election looks more like a wrestling match than a bid for serious political office. Mayor Yvonne Johnson, who won her post in 2007 in convincing fashion to become the city’s first African-American mayor, will face Bill Knight. In District 1 incumbent Dianne Bellamy-Small faces five challengers, including blogger and activist Ben Holder, known by his fans as “The Troublemaker,” and experienced politico Luther T. Falls. District 2 is up for grabs after the retirement of Goldie Wells. Jay Ovittore, who ran for Rep. Howard Coble’s Congressional seat last year, challenges Zack Matheny in District 3 along with George Hartzman. Our favorite gadfly David Crawford has filed to run in District 5. And the at-large race has 11 candidates for three seats, including Inca of the Latin Kings street gang and convicted felon Jorge ‘King J” Cornell.
In all, 33 people will face off in Greensboro for the Oct. 6 primary. And if you’re not paying attention, you are missing one hell of a show.