Municipal election fallout

Published 7:55 pm Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The fallout from last weeks municipal elections has already begun. Saluda Mayor Rodney Gibson has resigned before the end of his term, after coming in third in the mayoral race in his town.

Lets face it. These are more often than not terrible jobs in small towns, mayor and council. Many good citizens simply stay away. One has to wonder why anyone steps up. After 20 years, Gibson was tossed out with just 43 votes.

While the winners are still slapping backs, though, they would do well to be reminded that the same fate likely awaits them. In time, the few who vote tire of even dedicated, selfless servants and simply seek excitement in new faces.

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It has to hurt. No one serves for the money, or the perks and prestige. Its like working for 1,000 Monday morning quarterbacks, forgoing all social peace and security.

To all those incumbents who lost, we say, Thank you. Thank you for your service. To the candidates who tried and lost, you have our respect for stepping out.

Of course, one has to wonder, do most people even care? What do such low turn-outs say about our towns?

It was considered a resounding success in Saluda to see a 53% turnout. Only 47% stayed home! In Columbus, 73 percent of the registered voters couldnt be bothered to go to the polls. In Tryon, it was 75 percent!

Yet, one of the newly elected in Tryon is claiming a mandate. Wim Woody says 180 votes, out of a possible 1,405, is his mandate. Interesting math, considering that Mayor Alan Peoples, who represents the status quo in Woodys calculus, received 37% more votes than he did. What the people of Tryon want is far from clear in that vote.

It is interesting that in Columbus the former planning board members, who were once unseated by the council, came back to dominate both the council and the planning board. Even in a small town with just a few elements, the chemistry often creates intriguing new compounds. JB