Ten best highlights of the Winston-Salem city council election
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WINSTON-SALEM CITY COUNCIL ELECTION
IT’S NOT OVER
Yes, the election action is in Greensboro this week with a nonpartisan primary scheduled for Oct. 9. Winston-Salem is on a different schedule because the city uses a partisan election system, which pushes its primary back into September. As a result, the campaigns are in a bit of a lull as candidates gear up for the Nov. 5 general election.
CAN’T HELP YOU
Mayor Allen Joines wiped the floor with Gardenia Henley in the Democratic primary, but then faced the prospect of a write-in campaign from Apostle T. Sackcloth 2004. After the NC Board of Elections turned down Mr. Sackcloth’s request for an extension of petition-filing deadline, the would-be candidate appeared before Winston-Salem City Council — nattily dressed in a tailored burlap jacket, no less — to ask Joines if he could override the state board’s decision. That would be an, “Uh… no.”
James Lee Knox, Joines’ Republican challenger officially withdrew from the mayoral race in August after his party conspicuously withheld support. But wait, he didn’t take his name off the ballot. And now he’s campaigning again. Campaign manager David Singletary said Knox admitted that he has used the N-word to refer to an African- American election worker and apologized for the slur. “He may not fit your image of a mayoral candidate,” Singletary said, “but he epitomizes a small-town mayor, father and small-business owner who’s made mistakes like the rest of us.”
KALVIN MICHAEL SMITH AS A (NON)-ISSUE
Denise D. Adams, the Democratic incumbent in the North Ward, has geared up a serious campaign even though she’s heavily favored to win. Adams said in her YES! Weekly questionnaire that not supporting an amicus brief for Kalvin Michael Smith was “one of the toughest decisions I’ve had to make.” While some constituents such as former Councilman Larry Little have faulted her for it, the issue hasn’t gained much traction so far.
Meanwhile, Patricia Kleinmaier, Adams’ Republican challenger, has been knocking on a lot of doors and showing up at Republican events such as a recent presentation about the Common Core educational standards, but it doesn’t feel like the contest has been engaged yet. We’re still waiting for her candidate questionnaire.
Mayor Pro Tem Vivian Burke surprised many political observers by handily dispatching two Democratic primary challengers. After the dust settled, she confronted a YES! Weekly reporter — she did not receive our newspaper’s endorsement — in the lobby of City Hall and said, “I can keep winning elections as long as I want.”
CROSSING PARTY LINES
David W. Moore, a Democratic candidate for NC House in 2012, publicly feuded with his party last year. So it’s not entirely surprising that Moore made a recent Facebook post urging support for Republican Lida Hayes-Calvert in the Northwest Ward “to restore balance and fairness” to Winston- Salem City Council. No matter that Jeff MacIntosh, Hayes-Calvert’s opponent, is the strongest candidate the Democrats have fielded this year.
Meanwhile, Noah Reynolds, who lost to Jeff MacIntosh in the Democratic primary, has leveraged his political capital to wage a public battle with Forsyth County Commissioner Bill Whiteheart over a new ordinance allowing concealed carry weapons in Tanglewood Park. If you’re his Facebook friend or on his Twitter feed, you know this is 24-7, baby.
HIGH DRAMA IN THE SOUTHWEST WARD
Southwest Ward Councilman Dan Besse might feel like he dodged a bullet, having drawn perennial candidate Donald T. Shaw rather than a well-funded Republican challenger. So far, Besse’s reelection campaign seems to consist of reminding people about early voting and routine constituent services such as fielding requests on Facebook for curbside loose-brush pickup.
SALUTING WANDA MERSCHEL
There will be one new face on Winston-Salem City Council come Nov. 5, but the bigger story might be who won’t be on council. Northwest Ward Councilwoman Wanda Merschel, who did not seek reelection, brought her skills as a banker to bear as chair of the finance committee, where she helped the city maintain the lowest combined tax and fee structure. She also championed downtown revitalization through support for the 4 th Street restaurant corridor, construction of BB&T Ballpark and the creation of a downtown business improvement district.