City Mayor Jon Law announced at the end of Thursday morning’s City Board work session that he will seek election as an alderman in Fayetteville’s Nov. 6 elections as a write-in candidate.
He made good on those words Friday as he officially qualified with the Lincoln County Election Commission, confirmed Shelia Allen, administrator of elections. The deadline for other candidates to qualify as write-in candidates is at noon Monday, Sept. 17.
With the withdrawal of one candidate from the races for city alderman and the potential for five new aldermen to be seated, Law said he wanted to see increased competition in the races and an opportunity to continue working with young people on their creative ideas.
Even though three aldermanic seats are on the ballot — those held by incumbent Dorothy Small, who is seeking re-election, and Violet Harry and Anna Catherine Osteen, both of whom aren’t seeking re-election – at least one and possibly two additional seats could become available.
If elected mayor, Michael Whisenant’s seat would be open – Whisenant faces Jeff Bradford in the election for mayor. Additionally, Vice Mayor Gwen Shelton had announced last month she will be resigning her seat as an alderman, effective the day after the November election.
In addition to Small, candidates vying for aldermanic seats are Jeff Alder, Tonya Allen, Donna Hartman, and Rachel Martinez. The sixth aldermanic candidate, Brenda Neely, withdrew after the qualifying deadline.
Considering all that, and referencing the city charter, which basically states that in such a situation, the fourth highest vote-getter would automatically win the next available aldermanic seat, Law said he has thought “long and hard” about his decision.
“If Michael doesn’t get elected, four will get in,” said Law Tuesday. “There’s no race – they won’t have to spend a dime to get elected ... On top of that, except for Dorothy, they would all be so new. Half of your board would have no experience.
“I’m going in as a write-in for alderman,” he said. “I know it’s a rough row to hoe, but it’s something that I feel strongly about ... My time as mayor has been like that famous book, ‘The Tale of Two Cities’ – it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of it, and the other part, it’s been pretty contentious.
“But my gut and my allegiance and my passion are for this city and not for other things,” he continued. “I’ve had a lot of success. I’m meeting with some folks, right after this, who are young adults and who are coming up with some creative ideas that I would love to help with.
“One of the main reasons I decided not to run for mayor was the time that it took,” he said. “I’m not the kind of person who can just do half the job ... We’ve got basically five people running now, and if they really want to get in, they’re going to have work at it, and I’ll probably have to work even more because people are going to be confused.”
How that will work?
Election results will likely take a little longer after polls close Nov. 6, said Allen Friday, noting that returns for write-in candidates will have to be manually tabulated that evening.
While the names of candidates qualifying as write-in candidates don’t appear on the ballot, voters always have that option. In any given race, the “Write-In” option always appears on the screen of voting machines, she noted, adding that simply pressing that button will bring up a keyboard on the screen and voters can type in their candidate’s name.
The name or names of those write-in candidates will then appear on the printed ballot the machines produce as a final step in the voting process, she explained.
Law said his challenge will be helping folks realize he’s a write-in candidate for alderman and not for mayor.
Early voting for the Nov. 6 elections will take place Oct. 17 through Nov. 1. The deadline to register to vote in the election is Oct. 9.