New Bern, North Carolina, is a beautiful city (rebuilding after Hurricane Florence). Obviously, rebuilding is costing a lot. The City Alderman are doing a good job of trying to repair the damage done by the hurricane, but it is costing a lot. In addition to the cost of the hurricane, New Bern is now faced with the cost of a U.S. House District 3 primary election, possible run-off election, and off-year election to replace Congressman Walter Jones. That has brought up the issue of the cost of elections–they are expensive.
In the March 21-27 issue of The County Compass (I could not find the letter on the website, I actually have the paper. This is a link to the website.), New Bern Alderman Jeff Odham explained a way that the City of New Bern could save money on elections and increase voter turnout in municipal elections. New Bern normally holds its municipal elections in October every four years (2013, 2017, 2021, etc.). Alderman Odham proposed holding municipal elections in March during federal election primary elections. This change would decrease the cost of municipal elections from roughly $36,000 (if there is no runoff) or $55,000 (if there is a runoff) to less than $5,000. What a fantastic idea. If the elections are held during the primary, the runoff can be held during the general election in November, again at a cost of less than $5,000. This resolution would have to be approved by the Board of Aldermen and sent to Raleigh so that the legislature could modify the charter of the City of New Bern.
Last night the Board of Aldermen rejected the resolution. Among other things, the proposal would result in the current Board of Aldermen serving a three-year term instead of a four-year term. A number of the Aldermen objected to that. They were willing to cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars in order to serve for one more year. The Aldermen that voted against the proposal were Aldermen Best, Aster, Harris and Bengel.
Mayor Dana Outlaw, Alderman Kinsey and Alderman Odham voted for the proposal. It is unfortunate that the other Aldermen were not interested in a savings of at least $30,000 every four years. I will not be voting for my current Alderman (who voted against the resolution) in the next election.