This time write-ins will count

Jul. 23, 2013 @ 05:18 PM

In most elections, write-in ballots mean very little.
But in the upcoming election to fill five seats on the Sedgefield Sanitary District,  county election officials hope an Election Day write-in slate will fill out the board.  Because four candidates filed for the five seats, the other alternative was to extend the candidate filing period which ended Friday for five days. The Board of Elections voted 3-0 Monday to fill the seat by write-in balloting. About 2,170 voting residents live the three precincts in the sanitary district in the Jamestown area. The ballot total rarely tops 200. In 2011, the top candidate got 102 votes.
“Write-ins are allowed in all elections,” said Charlie Collicutt, Guilford County elections director. “It is not unusual to do this.  It’s most likely that the four candidates on the ballot will be elected and the write-in with the most votes will get the fifth seat.”
On the ballot are Ron Hickman and veteran board members Dennis Howard, Bob Stout and Hub White. Voters will vote at Celia Phelps United Methodist Church on Groometown Road.
The district was formed in 1963 in the area between High Point and Greensboro to operate a waste water tretment plant. High Point now handles the waste and the district maintains sewer lines. The district’s 2013 property tax rate is 3.6 cents per $100 valuation.
Election board members were concerned about setting a precedent if they extended candidate filing.
“This is not a make or break election,” said Don Wendelken, the board’s newest member. “There could be a problem if someone forgot to file and there is an extension.”
“It could set a precedent to extend because people would expect it to happen every time,” said board member Dot Kearns of High Point. People who run can let others know they want to be elected.”
Whoever wins the fifth seat with write-in ballots must be a registered voter.  In 2008, a candidate who called himself Kirk Perkins, the same name as an incumbent county commissioner, won a seat on the county Soil and Water Conservation District Board.
The Board of Elections revoked Perkins’ election because his address for voting purposes could not be confirmed. Perkins never took the seat and it was filled by appointment.
“You have to be a legal voter to take the office,” Collicutt said.

Sanitary Districts
Elections: The district board is elected by voters every two years. Sanitary boards are responsible for setting service charges and rates under state law. County commissioners often have the final decision on rates.

New Elections Board: A new appointed elections board with  a 2-1 Republican majority, took office earlier this month. Don Weldelken, a 55-year-old business owner, is a Summerfield Republican who has run for county commissioner. Attorney Kathryn Lindley, who was the sole Republican in 2012, is chairwoman. Dot Kearns of High Point is the only Democratic member.