Not all municipal elections go according to form: Tuesday’s election not expected to follow surprising results of 2011 and 2017 in Clemmons

Published 12:10 am Thursday, November 2, 2023

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CLEMMONS — Although there are no real races for the positions of mayor and council in Clemmons in the 2023 municipal election next Tuesday — with Mayor Mike Rogers running unopposed and three council candidates seeking three available positions — you never know what might happen, even if it’s extremely unlikely that they won’t be elected.

Flashback to 2011. Incumbent Mayor John Bost also didn’t have any challengers on the ballot, and in that election there were four candidates vying for three council spots. 

Speculation at the time focused on whether challenger Nick Nelson might unseat any of the three incumbents on the ballot — Nan Holland, Jack Ingle and Larry McClellan — for a seat on the council. But by Election Day, a groundswell of support opposed to giving citizens the chance to vote in a bond referendum on whether or not to authorize $6 million in improvements to Lewisville-Clemmons Road (which was soundly defeated) flipped the script.

Nelson emerged as the top vote-getter for council — while all three incumbents were unseated — and was joined on the board by a couple of write-in candidates — Rogers, a political newcomer at the time, and Norman Denny. Even Bost barely hung on to reclaim his position as mayor, getting 51 percent of the vote to narrowly edge write-in candidate Jim Hayes.

A similar scenario emerged in the 2017 election in Clemmons when a “Stop the Median” movement turned the tide with the election of newcomers at mayor (John Wait) and council (Michelle Barson, Scott Binkley and P.J. Lofland).

Those ousted included Mary Cameron, who had won in six previous elections, served on the council for a quarter of a century and was re-elected in 2019 and 2021, and Rogers, who led the ticket in 2013 after winning as a write-in candidate two years earlier. Rogers was re-elected to the council in 2019 before becoming mayor for the first time in 2021.

No controversial issues appear to be in play this year where Rogers is seeking his second term as mayor, and incumbents Mike Combest and Bradley Taylor are joined on the ballot for council by political newcomer Randy Wooden, who has recently served on the planning board.

While the mayor only serves a two-year term in Clemmons, the top two vote-getters for council claim four-year terms while the No. 3 finisher gets two years in the staggered system.

Chris Wrights, an incumbent who has served two consecutive four-year terms on the council since 2015 and was the overwhelming No. 1 choice in a crowded race in 2019, decided not to run again this year. Incumbents Barson and Cameron have two years remaining on their four-year terms.

In Lewisville, where the mayor serves a two-year term, incumbent Mike Horn is again running unopposed for mayor.

However, the race for council has seven candidates seeking six spots on the board. All council positions have two-year terms.

The list includes incumbents Melissa Hunt, Ken Sadler and Jane Welch along with new names in Ven Challa, Ivan Huffman, Monte Long and Julia Puckett. Incumbents Jeanne Marie Foster, Fred Franklin and David Smitherman did not file for re-election.

Like Clemmons and Lewisville, Bermuda Run only has one choice running for mayor as Mike Brannon, who was elected to the council in 2021 as the top vote-getter on the ballot, is seeking the position for the first time. Incumbent Rick Cross decided not to seek re-election.

There are four names on the ballot — Rod Guthrie, Rae Nelson, Jeff Tedder and Marty Wilson — for two available spots on the council.

Bermuda Run had a primary on Oct. 10 where the original field was narrowed down from five to four when Dave Gilpin was the low vote-getter. Incumbents Heather Coleman and Curtis Capps did not file for re-election. 

If Brannon is elected as the new mayor, his council seat would become vacant, and it would be the role of council to appoint someone to fill his vacant position. This is what happened four years ago after Cross was elected mayor and Ken Peacock was appointed to the council to replace him. 

Incumbents Mike Ernst and Melinda Szeliga have two years remaining on their terms.

Polls will open on Tuesday, Nov. 7, at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.