The candidates agreed — the election of one Democrat and one Republican councilman in the Nov. 5 City of Lincolnton elections showed that voters want the members of the City Council to work together to solve the city’s problems.
The reality is that the Republicans very narrowly missed being swept by the Democrats in the contested elections (Republican Mayor John Gilleland was running unopposed). Democratic candidate Mary Frances White, a newcomer to the city’s political scene, lost to Republican incumbent Devin Rhyne by a mere 41 votes — just over two percentage points. Any political strategist will tell you that beating an incumbent is a very, very difficult thing to do, but White almost made it happen.
Dr. Martin Eaddy, the most recognizable face in the candidate field thanks to years of public service as superintendent of the Lincoln County school system and participation in numerous civic organizations, strolled into the City Council with a 146-vote advantage over Republican Jay Thomas.
Forty-one and 146. These are not huge numbers.
The difference between a victory and a defeat in this election boiled down to organization.
The Republicans hoped that their slogans of “Trash the Tax,” in reference to the ill-fated garbage fee implemented and then repealed by the Democrat-led Council, and “It Takes 3,” a reference to the necessary number of aligned council members to implement policy, would rally enough voters to give the Republicans their first-ever advantage on the Council. But the Democrats did what Democrats do best — they rallied their supporters and got out the vote.
In a city of 6,021 registered voters, with a Democratic majority, it takes a lot more than a catchy slogan and a few free hot dogs to turn the tide in favor of the minority party.
If the city’s Republicans want to continue chipping away at Lincolnton’s traditional Democratic power structure, it’s going to take better candidates, a better message, a stronger push at the polls and something that’s hard to quantify — an iron-clad will to win.