Votes in three familiar faces

by Josh Lanier

HUNTERSVILLE – Huntersville commissioners Sarah McAulay, Ron Julian and Charlie Jeter all won their re-election bids, with Jeter only eking by a political ally.

McAulay and Julian won handily, taking the top two votes respectively, but Jeter only beat out former commissioner Brian Sisson by 14 votes to take the sixth and final spot at the dais.

Joining them next year will be Melinda Bales, Danny Phillips and former Mayor Pro Tem Charles Guignard.

Phillips did not return calls for comment by the Herald Weekly’s deadline.

McAulay, the longest serving commissioner, who will likely again serve as the town’s mayor pro tem, since that position normally goes to the highest voter-getter, said she was proud to serve another term on the board.

“I appreciate everyone’s hard work in this election,” she said Tuesday night. “I am pleased that most of us took the high road, and I look forward to working with Mayor (Jill) Swain and the other commissioners.”

Julian, who watched the results with a cadre of family members, beamed as he spoke about being elected to his third term.

“To me, this is a vote of confidence,” he said. “The residents have asked me again to go up there and do their work, and I am very happy about that.”

Bales, a political newcomer but a familiar face at town board meetings, said she was ready to get to work.

“It’s time to roll up our sleeves and go from there,” she said. “We will face a lot of big challenges going forward, especially around things like the Red Line (commuter-freight rail), and we need to be prepared.”

Whereas most candidates spent the night sharing drinks and answering congratulatory phone calls, Guignard had work to do. He spent Tuesday night collecting his and other candidates’ campaign signs from front yards and roadways. He had spent most of the day putting out signs and later picking them up, missing most of the election results as they came in.

He did it, he said, because he doesn’t like signs left out and wanted to keep the town’s appearance to a standard. Guignard, who last served on the town board in 2001, thanked voters for their trust in returning him to the dais.

“I am humbled and honored to have the trust of the citizens of Huntersville and will do my best to serve the entire electorate well,” he said.

Jeter said he was happy to be re-elected, but he would have liked a better showing.

“Listen, at the end of the day, every vote at the dais counts the same, whether you came in first or sixth, but I would have liked to have placed a little higher. But I really appreciate all the support I got.”

Jeter believes he lost a lot of votes when he joined the other two incumbents in publicly endorsing Mayor Swain in her re-election bid.

As the early reports came in, Jeter hovered in eighth place and didn’t surge into sixth until near the end of the night. “I looked at my wife and said ‘Well, that was fun,’” he said.

Voting results for the rest of the field went like this: Sisson, 1,533; planning board member Jeff Neely, 1,500; Adam Boatsman, 1,253; Dempsey Miller, 1,202; and Adam Planty, 1,1,42 votes.

Neely, who was running for office for the first time, said he plans to run again in 2013 and will remain involved in the planning board for the time being.

“I think the planning board is the best way to learn about the town and how it runs,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot there … I learned a lot during this election as well. I don’t feel bad about my showing, and I respect the people who won.”

By the numbers: vote totals

Sarah McAulay 2,023

Ron Julian 1,939

Melinda Bales 1,774

Danny Phillips 1,610

Charles Guignard 1,559

Charles Jeter 1,547

Brian Sisson 1,533

Jeff Neely 1,500

Adam Boatsman 1,253

Dempsey Miller 1,202

Adam Planty 1,142