Cornelius voters appear to oust longtime commissioner
by Staff Writer
by Will Bryant
CORNELIUS – John Bradford III edged out 16-year Commissioner Thurman Ross Jr. on Tuesday night by just two votes, but the official decision has to wait until provisional ballots are tallied sometime before the end of the week.
Officials on the Board of Elections say there are more than 260 ballots for Mecklenburg County. It is unclear Wednesday how many of those are for Cornelius.
Jeff Hare, the other newcomer in the race, easily won his first bid for the town board. If Tuesday night’s results hold up, Hare and Bradford will join incumbents Lynette Rinker, Chuck Travis and David Gilroy, who took the top three spots in balloting.
Commissioner Jim Bensman did not seek re-election.
Only 10.58 percent of Cornelius’ 18,767 registered voters cast ballots in the off-year election, according to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections. With each ballot, voters were allowed to choose five of the six candidates in the running.
As she did in her first run for the board two years ago, Rinker, the mayor pro tem, won the most votes – 1,408 – followed by Travis with 1,365, Gilroy with 1,338, Hare with 1,325, Bradford with 1,155, and Ross with 1,153, according to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections website.
Cornelius Mayor Jeff Tarte, who was unopposed for a second term as mayor, said he is excited to work with the newly elected board.
“They are all excellent people, and honestly, any five of the six people would be outstanding to serve,” Tarte said.
Tarte was quick to point out that the board has a busy future, especially with the town’s comprehensive master plan set to debut in coming weeks and a crucial recommendation on the future of the Red Line rail project expected about the same time.
“We plan to hit the ground running,” Tarte said.
Rinker seemed confident in the group of people elected to shape Cornelius for the next two years.
“I think an incredible group of people have been elected, and we each have skills that are well matched and complement each other,” she said. “We’ve already formed a good bond during this campaign season.”
As for the possibility of losing longtime Commissioner Ross, Rinker said the town has lost a leader. “He is one of my dearest friends, and the town will really miss his leadership and experience,” she said.
When asked what brought them to the polls Tuesday, many voters said they weren’t voting on a particular issue. Rather, many said they consider voting their civic duty.
“It’s my town, so I’ve got to voice my opinion,” Cornelius resident Malcolm Leirmoe said. “There isn’t really one particular issue. It’s just my duty to go out and vote.”
By the numbers
With Cornelius’ four precincts and early-voting ballots counted, the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections reported the following results for the commissioners race:
Lynette Rinker 1,408
Chuck Travis, 1,365
David Gilroy, 1,338
Jeff Hare, 1,325
John Bradford III, 1,155
Thurman Ross Jr. 1,153