Incumbents keep seats in Davidson
by Staff Writer
by Katie Orlando
DAVIDSON – Incumbent commissioners Brian Jenest, Laurie Venzon and Connie Wessner kept their seats on the Davidson Boad of Commissioners, and voters picked newcomers Rodney Graham and Jim Fuller to join them Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Challengers Kristen Coupal and Mickey Pettus fell short, but Fuller, a longtime Davidson attorney, said he sees Coupal and Pettus continuing to contribute to the town.
Slightly less than 27 percent of Davidson voters cast ballots Tuesday.
The final tally from early voting and the town’s two precincts was:
Jenest, 1,390 votes; Venzon, 1,350; Graham, 1,337; Fuller, 1,307; Wessner, 1,142; Coupal, 1,105; and Pettus, 931.
Commissioners Margo Williams and Tim Dreffer did not seek re-election.
As the highest vote-getter, Jenest will replace Venzon as mayor pro tem.
“I’m pleased that I’m back,” said Jenest, who was first elected along with Venzon in 2007. “I look forward to working with the new board.”
Venzon said she was pleased with the results Tuesday night and looks forward to building more citizen engagement.
“I am thrilled and honored that the people of Davidson have given me the opportunity to serve for another two years,” she said. “I think we need to do a better job of communicating and engaging more citizens on issues and decisions we make.”
Like Venzon and Mayor John Woods, Wessner said this campaign exposed a need to increase citizen involvement, which starts with education.
“I hope we can do some more good work in the next couple of years educating the citizens,” Wessner said.
Elected officials and staff have spent years understanding planning and growth management in Davidson, and Wessner said they sometimes forget that every citizen doesn’t know the root and purpose of all those regulations.
People who move to Davidson know they love the town and community, she said, but they don’t necessarily understand the procedures and regulations that have created it.
“We need to do a better job when people move here of making sure they know why they’re here and what brought them here,” Wessner said. “Places like Davidson do not happen by accident, and we need to grow understanding of what makes this place so special.”
Fuller shares Wessner’s goal of maintaining Davidson’s unique attributes.
“My primary goal throughout this campaign has been preserving what is very special about Davidson,” he said Tuesday. “And I will continue doing that.”
The issues and challenges brought up in this campaign did a favor for the town, Wessner said, reminding officials how important educating their constituents is. This will be Wessner’s second term on the board.
Newcomer Rodney Graham said he was thrilled and humbled Tuesday night and looking forward to working with the people of Davidson.
He doesn’t want to overemphasize the divisive issues of the campaign but, instead, looks forward to “making sure Davidson is unified, working together, getting back to being one community,” he said.
After voting at Town Hall, Sandy Bowers said she saw Tuesday’s vote as a somewhat significant election. “I think our budget is important here in Davidson, and there needs to be some improvements,” she said.
Different voters cited different motivations for coming to the polls Tuesday.
“My wife called me, told me to come out and vote,” Rob Roycroft said after voting at Hopewell Baptist Church.
Emmett Montgomery was so committed to casting a ballot that he went to both polling locations, after moving closer to town confused him.
“Folks are dying so I can do this,” he said.
By the numbers: vote totals
Brian Jenest 1,390
Laurie Venzon 1,350
Rodney Graham 1,337
Jim Fuller 1,307
Connie Wessner 1,142
Kristen Coupal 1,105
Mickey Pettus 931