Most of our attention may have been on the presidential or even state elections this year, but we should also look at what happened in our local elections. In the nine-county Centralina region, 51 total member seats were on the ballot in the 2020 local government general election. Out of these positions, eight were at-large (four county and four municipality) and 28 were contested, including the following:
- Anson County (Districts 1 and 3)
- Cabarrus County (2 seats)
- Gaston County (Gastonia Township)
- Lincoln County (3 seats)
- Mecklenburg County (District 1, 3, 5 and 6)
- Stanly County (District 5)
- Union County (2 seats)
- City of Albemarle (Member At-Large – 2 seats)
- City of Lincolnton (Wards 2 and 4)
- City of Locust (4 seats)
- Town of Oakboro (2 seats)
- Town of Richfield (3 seats)
With many seats up for grabs in this election, the outcome proved to bring in a wealth of knowledge and experience from former Board members to local government employees to re-elected officials. Several former Board members who served in previous years gained re-election. For instance, Peter Asciutto won a seat on the Stanly County Board and Benton Dry secured an Albemarle City Council seat after each formerly served a four-year term until 2018. Scott Efird, Locust Planning Director, also won an at-large seat after previously serving a four-year term on the Board.
Even the newcomers bring a diverse background, education and experience to the table. Jeffrey “JD” Bricken gained a Commissioner’s seat for Anson County District 1 after retiring from working for various departments in government for 33 years. Cabarrus County Commissioner Elect, Barbara Strang, has political science and juris doctorate degrees and has worked in criminal justice. Many other newly elected members also have experience in serving on local boards in education, social services and planning and come with their own passions to advocate.
- For the first time in 12 years, Gaston County has elected a female commissioner, Kim Reel Johnson. Commissioner Elect Johnson will serve over the Gastonia Township.
- After opting to retire after this term, Richard Permenter is leaving the Lincoln County Commission. Cathy Davis, a newcomer, was elected to serve on the Board in his absence.
- This cohort also includes a change in representation as 18 of the 51 (36%) newly elected commissioners, councilmembers and mayors of our members organizations were women.
Bond Referendum Highlights
- Cherryville constituents voted in favor of bonds for water system improvements, sewer system improvements and downtown improvements (read more here).
- Mecklenburg County constituents voted in favor of bonds for transportation, housing and neighborhood improvement.
- Formerly a Mayor-Council form of government, the Village of Marvin voted to change to a Council-Manager form of government. This change allows the village to hire a manager to lead daily operations and decision-making under the direction of their elected council. They also voted to limit the mayor’s voting power on all matters.
From the candidates who were re-elected, six included Centralina Board of Delegates and one alternate. Congratulations to Commissioner Jarvis T. Woodburn of Anson County, Commissioners Ronnie Worley and Bob Hovis of Gaston County, Commissioner Gene Houpe of Iredell County, Councilwoman Martha Sue Hall of City of Albemarle, Councilman Rusty Efird of City of Locust and Councilman Jeffrey G. Watson of Village of Misenheimer on their re-election. Centralina would also like to thank delegates Commissioner Trevor Fuller of Mecklenburg County and Commissioner Rich Permenter of Lincoln County for their years of service and leadership with the Centralina Board of Delegates.
We look forward to continuing our regional service and can’t wait to see where the background, education and experience of newly elected officials and the next set of dedicated delegates take us in the new year.
Disclaimer: This information is based on unofficial results from the N.C. State Board of Elections election night report accessed November 10, 2020. All results are subject to change as official results are released.
Written by: Lauren Tayara