From hot to cold for one town's elections

Aug. 09, 2013 @ 06:34 PM

The upcoming election in Jamestown takes a twist from the expression, “What a difference a year makes.”
In the case of the Guilford County town sandwiched between High Point and Greensboro, it’s what a difference two years make.
At this time in 2011, during the town’s last municipal election season, local politics were heating up as incumbent members of Town Council faced a slate of challengers.
But this year, residents of the town are all but assured of knowing who will represent them three months before the Nov. 5 general election. Incumbent Mayor Keith Volz was unopposed when the local candidate filing period concluded last month. And only four candidates filed for the same number of seats on Town Council.
Two years ago, Jamestown voters went to the polls in a fall primary to pick from 10 candidates for the four seats on Town Council. The primary narrowed the contest to eight candidates for the November 2011 general election. Two incumbent councilmembers lost their seats in a race that revolved around issues such as parking in the town’s central business district, the operation of the municipal golf course and zoning and development for businesses and townhomes.
This year, incumbents Brock Thomas, Lynn Montgomery and Georgia Nixon-Roney are unopposed in seeking re-election. Councilmember Tommy Walls isn’t running for another term, and former councilman Will Ragsdale was the only challenger to file for the fourth seat.
Why the change from competitive to uncontested elections?
Nixon-Roney said that she doesn’t believe there’s been a substantial overhaul in town policy the past two years. But she said that councilmembers — including herself — have done a better job informing Jamestown residents about their actions and the reasons behind them.
“I’ve always said that Jamestown is a really well-run town. I just think we have done a better job of communicating with people,” said Nixon-Roney, who has been on council for four years.
One step that the council and town staff took that she thinks has helped is beefing up information on the Jamestown municipal website about town business, such as agendas of meetings and details on policies.
Councilman Brock Thomas, who’s served on council eight years, said the contested Jamestown elections of two years ago — as well as four years ago — reflected a general dissatisfaction against government that was a national trend. Now, with some improvement in the overall economy, the dissatisfaction may have lessened, Brock said.
Thomas agreed with Nixon-Roney that the town is doing a better job of communicating with residents. And some of the issues that prompted challengers to run for office have been addressed, he said.
“It was good for the folks of Jamestown to get involved. We got to hear different opinions. I think it was a good thing for the town,” Thomas said.

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528