City voters go to polls Tuesday
When early voting ended Saturday, 1,597 voters had cast their ballots, more than the total vote in either of the last two municipal elections.
The election for Monroe mayor and city council now moves to balloting on Election day, Tuesday, Oct. 8. The polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. All Monroe voters in Precinct 25 will vote at Precinct 3 for this election only.
Early voting this year doubled the vote totals in early voting in 2009 and 2011. In 2011, 804 voted early and 1,420 voted in all, an 8.5 percent turnout. In 2009, turnout was also 8.5 percent as 732 voted early and 1,424 voted in all. This year, 8.7 percent of the 18,300 registered voters cast ballots during the early voting period.
The mayoral race is between Mayor Bobby Kilgore, Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Keziah and Kyle Hayes, voters may select one.
Kilgore, a retired police chief, is currently serving as mayor. He identified his top three priorities in a questionnaire as moving forward with the Downtown Monroe Master Plan, working with fire and police to make sure they have appropriate resources and working with economic development to help existing industries and attract more.
Keziah has served as mayor before. He has served on city council as a council member or mayor since 1981. He is a real estate developer. Keziah identified his top priorities as creating jobs, continuing to work on the Monroe Bypass and working on the downtown Center Theater project.
Hayes, an architect, has not held an elected position, though he has run in the past. He owns a business in Monroe. Hayes’ concerns include reducing regulations on businesses to encourage growth, reducing corruption in city government and lowering tax and utility rates.
The race for city council has eight candidates and voters may choose three.
Surluta Anthony is running for city council. Anthony, a probation parole officer, has run for office previously. She has served as the North Carolina Head Start Association second vice. Anthony is running on a platform of public safety, preserving parks and recreation, strengthening communities and creating more transparency in city government. She is promoting the “Three Cs,” commitment, cooperation and communication.
John Ashcraft is running for a third term as a city council member. Ashcraft is a commercial real estate broker. He is running on a platform of job creation, revitalizing the downtown area and increasing public safety.
Margaret Desio is running for re-election. Desio, a real estate appraiser, has served on city council since 2009. Her top priorities, according to a questionnaire, include jobs, schools and maintaining or removing deteriorated properties.
Debra Duncan is running for city council for the first time. Duncan, the former Monroe police chief, retired over the summer. She has not held an elected office. Her top priorities are creating more transparency in government, supporting the police and fire departments, attracting small businesses and providing affordable houses for seniors.
Freddie Gordon is running for re-election. Gordon, a funeral director, has served on the council since 2009. He said in a questionnaire that the three most important issues facing Monroe are jobs, fiscal responsibility and facility development. Gordon hopes to continue using economic development to maintain and attract businesses and he advocates for a space needs and master planning study.
Joy Heath will appear on the ballot. She did not return a questionnaire, nor did she attend the candidate forum held by the League of Women Voters.
Kenneth Graham, a retired district superintendent with Union Power Cooperative, is running for his first elected office. Graham has stated many times that he feels the new police chief should be hired from within the police department. He would also like to change the city charter to give the mayor a four-year term instead of a two-year term. He is also concerned about taxes, the airport and utility rates.
Cary Rogers, a retired state trooper, is running for his first elected position. It is his first time running for office. Rogers said a priority for him is restoring trust and civility in city council, he said at the candidate forum that some members have been on council too long and have gotten too comfortable. He is also concerned about high taxes and overly burdensome regulations on businesses.
Full candidate questionnaires can be found online at enquirerjournal.com