PITTSBORO — Following state-authorized elections delays for many of North Carolina’s municipalities and cities, Pittsboro and Goldston will be the only of Chatham’s towns to host major elections in 2021.
Municipal elections — including mayoral and commissioner races — occur biennially in odd-numbered years. This year should have seen elections for all of Chatham’s towns: Pittsboro, Siler City, Cary and Goldston. Instead, Pittsboro and Goldston residents alone will have the chance to reevaluate their representatives.
Every 10 years, municipalities, cities and states must assess their voting districts and amend them to ensure fair and equal representation for all members of the electorate. Districts need not change if the population has been largely inert over the previous decade, but that scenario is unlikely for Chatham towns, which have evolved considerably in recent years.
Redistricting is due in 2021, but to draw new maps municipalities need up-to-date census data, the arrival of which pandemic disruptions have delayed by several months.
To permit municipalities time to evaluate their districts, the General Assembly ratified a bill last month, Senate Bill 722, that will postpone many 2021 municipal elections until March 2022. Thirty-five municipalities originally scheduled for 2021 elections organize and elect officials according to districts or wards. Siler City and Cary are among them.
Goldston uses wards for organizational purposes, but officials are elected at large. Goldston’s filing period will end at noon on Friday, August 13, at which point the board of elections will release the town’s candidates.
For now then, only Pittsboro — which does not use districts or wards for any purposes and closed filing last Friday — has finalized its roster of candidates.
Three seats are up for grabs, each of them contested.
Pittsboro Mayor Jim Nass is concluding his first term, which he won by default in 2019 after then-Mayor Cindy Perry chose not to run for reelection. But after a two-year hiatus, Perry is back and looking to reclaim her seat.
“(I) was pleased to have governed with respect and civility with the Board, broadened the voice of the electorate, supported local business and dealt with governance in a balanced and fair manner,” Perry said of her previous terms in a statement released after the filing period closed Friday.
In her four years as mayor, Perry worked with the board and staff to establish many of the town’s policies with respect to the infant Chatham Park development. She also presided over the board as it drafted early renditions of the Unified Development Ordinance, fostered a relationship with Sanford to build a new force main and navigated the town’s enduring water quality struggles.
If she wins another term, Perry says she will emphasize continued water quality improvement per recommendations from the town’s water quality advisory group. She also plans to sponsor a “‘Community Cabinet’ to review and recommend policies for the Board to consider,” she said in a press release.
“Our town has many people who have expertise in science and government,” she said, “and we need to give them a voice and utilize their knowledge. The town board and administration cannot be an expert in every field facing the town, and this cabinet could assist the town in a profound way.”
Perry, a retired real estate attorney, is a Pittsboro resident of more than 40 years. She volunteers with the Chatham County Historical Museum and with Second Bloom, a local domestic violence agency.
“The community needs and deserves proven leadership and unity,” Perry said in her release, “now that the town is emerging from the pandemic ... There are many wonderful things about our town and our citizens, and I intend to be a good listener and an able ambassador for our citizens.”
Nass, however, hopes to retain the mayor’s seat. Since moving to Pittsboro in 2007, he has served the town in several capacities. As chairman of the Pittsboro ABC Board, Nass oversaw several organizational adjustments which added more than $100,000 in annual town revenue. He also served as chairman for the Chatham Park Additional Elements Committee, he was a founding member of Main Street Pittsboro, former chairman of the town’s Affordable Housing Task Force and interim chairman of the Pittsboro Affordable Housing Committee.
Calls to Nass’ office were not returned by press time Tuesday.
Two commissioner seats are up for reelection this year. Incumbents Pamela Baldwin (who is also Mayor Pro Tem) and Michael Fiocco have each served many years on the board and hope to retain their positions.
A third candidate, James Vose Jr., will look to unseat one of them.
The filing period for Goldston Gulf Sanitary District board members should have closed last week. Final candidates have not been confirmed, however. On Friday, the Chatham County Board of Elections held an emergency meeting to extend the GGSD’s filing period.
“The sanitary district has two seats open and only one person came in to file,” BOE Director Pandora Paschal told the News + Record. “N.C. election law allows the board to extend the filing period.”
Persons interested in filing for candidacy to serve on the Goldston Gulf Sanitary District board who live within the sanitary district may file until noon on Friday, July 23. As of last Friday, when the regular filing period concluded, only Adam Pickett — a current board member and Pittsboro water plant superintendent — had filed for candidacy.
The 2021 election will be on Nov. 2. Early voting is scheduled to begin on Oct.14 and absentee ballots will be available by Oct. 3.
Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @dldolder.
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