A worthwhile bond

By the time you read this, the Greensboro City Council Primary will be done, the votes tallied and the victors ready to go on to the general election on Nov. 3.

Because of constraints on production, as of press time we do not know who emerged victoriously from the primary races, though we could probably make some educated guesses as to who came out on top.

Likewise, we cannot know how many of Greensboro’s 150,000 or so registered voters will have made it to the polls on Tuesday or participated in either Early Voting or One-Stop Voting.

But we have some ideas, even at this early hour. If history can serve as a guide, we anticipate that perhaps 10 percent of Greensboro voters felt moved to make a choice in the primary election. The last municipal election here in 2007 drew 11,460 voters, about 7 percent of the total. We’ve padded this year’s figure because of a combination of other voting options like Early Voting, the Obama factor which we believe has politicized many who were heretofore disinterested in the election process, and also because of rank optimism — seriously, why wouldn’t anyone want to take part in a municipal primary? For one, municipal government has way more effect on your life than state and national offices do. The city council decides if and when your garbage gets picked up, and where it goes from there. They oversee the police and fire departments. They ultimately decide how real estate gets zoned, what businesses deserve incentives and how city tax money is spent.

Also, primary contests are arguably more important than general elections because it is in the primary that the slate for the general election is determined. This year in Greensboro, a field of 32 candidates was narrowed to 17 — the mayor’s race was not affected because it has just two candidates, incumbent Yvonne Johnson and contender Bill Knight, while in District 5 incumbent Trudy Wade faces Art Boyett.

But what everyone needs to understand about municipal elections — particularly those who opted out of the Tuesday contest in Greensboro — is that these are the kinds of elections where your vote actually counts for something, way more so than in the general election. Often a busload full of people can make the difference between a contender and an also-ran.

In the 2007 at-large primary, Joel Landau came in 110 votes behind Marikay Abuzaiter, who went on to the general election while Landau went home. And in District 1 Luther Falls came 45 votes shy of running against Dianne Bellamy-Small, but the slate went to Tonya Clinkscale instead.

In the end, the primary is like the NFL playoffs, while the general election is more like the Super Bowl: big hype, few surprises and some pretty good commercials.

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