by Sam Hieb
News & Record reports state lawmakers have filed a bill to move municipal elections in Greensboro and other Guilford County cities and towns to even-numbered years has been has been filed. Rep. Bert Jones, R-Rockingham, is among the sponsors.
This is an issue that seems to come comes up quite frequently— proponents argue that even-year elections would spark more interest in City Council races and save money; opponents argue that odd-year elections would –you guessed it— spark more interest in City Council races and save money:
Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan said Thursday that the bill could eliminate some of the advantages of off-year elections. Local candidates, she said, would be competing for attention on the ballot and for affordable advertising spaces.
“My concern would be that City Council elections would get lost with the national elections on the same ballot, and that it would be more expensive to run,” she said.
….Voter turnout is higher in even-numbered years, so it makes sense to move the races, Jones said Thursday. Holding local elections during those cycles would increase turnout in those races, too, he said.
“Also, it would save considerable taxpayer money by thus eliminating the odd-numbered year elections,” said Jones.
“It would be a win-win situation for the citizens.”
All I know is Greensboro has had some heated City Council elections over the years—issues have included efforts to reopen the landfill, controversy surrounding the police department, contentious mayoral campaigns and –most recently—outrage over legislative efforts to redistrict, which is now in the hands of a District Court judge—- yet turnout consistently lags at between 10-12 percent. I’m not sure folding City Council races in with federal elections would raise enough to produce more interested—or knowledgeable—- voters.