Tuesday, June 18, 2024

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Municipal election filings begin Friday; Hykes won’t seek another term on Burlington city council

This Friday marks the beginning of a two-week filing period for local politicos who intend to compete in this year’s municipal elections. But while the scramble to register doesn’t officially kick off until 12:00 noon, the jockeying among candidates is already well underway in some of this year’s most closely-watched races.

One contest that’s shaping up to be particularly interesting is the race for Burlington’s city council, which could see a frenzy of filings from prospective office holders due to the upcoming retirement of one long-serving incumbent.

In an interview with The Alamance News this week, councilmember Kathy Hykes acknowledged that she has decided not to seek re-election in this year’s election.

“I’m not running,” she told the newspaper on Wednesday. “It’s been an honor to serve. But I’ve been on the council for 14 years altogether, and I feel like it’s time for me to not do this anymore.”

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Kathy Hykes (right) has decided against seeking re-election to Burlington’s city council, while councilman Bob Ward (left) says he hasn’t yet decided his electoral course of action for 2023.

Hykes’ extended tenure on Burlington’s city council originally began more than four decades ago when, at the age of 33, she was appointed to a vacancy in the council’s membership.

Hykes went on to win her position outright in the fall of 1981, although she lost her next bid for re-election in 1985 after a particularly turbulent race that turned her off of municipal politics for nearly three decades.

Hykes nevertheless returned to fray in 2014, when she applied for another vacancy that opened up on the council when former council member David Huffman resigned to become Burlington’s new city attorney. She went on to win one of two council seats that were up for grabs in 2015 – the other going to incumbent councilman Bob Ward, who had himself served as Burlington’s city attorney before his elevation to the council in 2011.

Hykes’ political fortunes continued to coincide with Ward’s since their success at the polls in 2015. In 2019, the pair coasted to an easy victory when they ran unopposed for their respective positions. This year, the two council members are once again up for re-election – although Hykes’ forthcoming retirement rules out a repeat of their mutual triumph four years ago.

Ward, unlike his outgoing colleague, has told The Alamance News that he has yet to make up his mind if he’ll seek re-election this year. But, regardless of whether or not he chooses to remain in the game for another at-bat, there’s at least one prospective candidate who’s ready and willing to step up to the plate.

Earlier this year, former city council member Celo Faucette, told The Alamance News that he intends to run for a seat on the council this fall. Faucette, whose announcement appeared in this newspaper in May, had previously spent eight years on the council, although he had to give up his seat in 2017 after he passed up a chance to seek re-election in order to mount an unsuccessful challenge to Burlington’s then-mayor Ian Baltutis.

Former Burlington city councilman Celo Faucette

In addition to the two regular seats that will appear on the ballot in Burlington, the city’s voters will also have another opportunity to weigh in on the office of mayor. The city’s mayoral incumbent Jim Butler has told The Alamance News that he has every intention of defending this seat, which he wrested away from Baltutis in 2021.

“I plan to file on Friday,” he confirmed in an interview.

Burlington mayor Jim Butler plans to run for re-election for a second mayoral term.

It remains to be seen how many other candidates will come out of the woodwork once the local elections office kicks off the filing period. But if there’s enough interest in either the mayor’s seat or the two regular seats on the council, the city may have to hold a primary on October 10 to pare down the field of contenders for the general election on November 7.

Under Burlington’s municipal charter, this qualifying round of voting automatically takes place whenever the number of candidates in any given race is more than twice the number of available seats. Although no other community in Alamance County boasts this sort of rule in its charter, there are plenty of other cities and towns in the area that will have municipal posts up for grabs in November.

In the Village of Alamance, for example, voters will parcel out three four-year terms on the board of aldermen that currently belong to Timothy Wayne Isley, M. Barry Crouse, and Daniel Tichy. Also on the ballot will be a two year term for the village’s mayor – a position presently held by Donald B. Tichy.

Meanwhile, voters in Elon will have a chance to consider three four-year terms on the town council that belong to council members Mark H. Greene, Monti Allison, and Quinn Ray.

In the town of Gibsonville, mayor Lenny Williams will have the opportunity to compete for another four year term at the helm. Also on the ballot this year will be four seats on the town’s board of aldermen. Three seats – now held by Mark Sheperd, Irene Fanelli, and Clarence A. Owen, Sr. – will be available for terms of four years apiece. (Fanelli, the first runner up in a previous race for the board of aldermen, was appointed to fill out the unexpired term of Yvonne Maizland-Sturdevant, who gave up her seat on the board when she moved to Virginia earlier this year.) In the meantime, a special two-year position will be on offer to fill out the unexpired term of the late alderman Paul Thompson, whose seat is temporarily being filled by Paul Dean [See separate story in this edition].

In Graham, mayor Jennifer Talley will be up for another two year term in November’s election. Voters will also adjudicate two four-year terms for council seats held by Rickey C. Hall and Bonnie Whitaker (who was appointed to replace Talley).

In the town of Green Level, the ballot will feature three four-year terms for council seats belonging to Sandra McCollum, Theodore Howard, and Remonia A. Enoch.

In the town of Haw River, mayor Kelly F. Allen has declared that she’ll seek another four years in office [See candidate announcement in this week’s edition]. Also on the ballot will be two four-year terms for council seats held by Patty Wilson and Steve Lineberry.

In Mebane, mayor James E. “Ed” Hooks will have the chance to seek another four years in command of the gavel. The city’s voters will also decide the fates of two four-year council seats held by Sean C. Ewing and Katie Burkholder (who was appointed last year to replace Patty Philipps when she moved out of town).

In the town of Ossipee, the ballot will feature three four-year council seats held by Ernest “Smokey” Bare, Billy Carter, and Ed Gallagher.

In the town of Swepsonville, voters will consider two four-year seats held by council members Dalton Drew Sharpe and Travis Sapp.

Reminder to would-be political office holders – and incumbents

The Alamance News welcomes news from citizens announcing their candidacy for public office in the 2023 municipal elections, the filing season for which begins Friday, July 7 at noon (through Friday, July 21, also at noon).

A biographical sketch, picture, and brief story will be carried when a candidate complies with the following guidelines:

The announcement must be timed for release on Thursday, the day it is scheduled to appear in The Alamance News.

The announcement must not have been published in any other local newspaper prior to that Thursday of its release in The Alamance News.

The candidate must not have already filed for office, even if he or she has not publicly announced his or her candidacy.

Inasmuch as a resident’s declaration of candidacy is an entirely discretionary event, the timing of which is within the candidate’s control, The Alamance News is interested to carry such information as news when it is, in fact, both timely and newsworthy.

A political announcement not meeting these criteria will be deemed advertising and run at appropriate advertising rates, subject to payment in advance.

These guidelines apply equally to all candidates – both incumbents and challengers.
Any questions about complying with these guidelines should be addressed to the publisher, Tom Boney, Jr., prior to any announcement.

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