By: Amalia Klinck-Shearman
September 29, 2013
Winston-Salem, North Carolina—This month’s primary for City Council produced a clear winner in the East Ward and a Democratic candidate in the Northwest Ward. Downtown is split between the two wards.
Derwin L. Montgomery, the incumbent of the East Ward, won a second term in a landslide victory over his opponents Phil Carter and former City Council Member Jocelyn Johnson. Montgomery beat out both of his competitors with over 60 percent of the vote.
In the Northwest Ward, newcomer Democrat Jeff MacIntosh defeated two opponents in the Democratic primary, Laura Elliot and Noah Reynolds, with 65.5 percent of the votes according to the Forsyth County Board of Elections. He faces Republican candidate Lida Hayes-Calvert in the general election November 5.
Voter turnout for the primary elections was low. According to the Forsyth County Board of Elections, just over 1,300 East Ward residents voted in this month’s primary election. The Northwest Ward, where the candidates were all new to the ballot after incumbent Wanda Merschel decided not to run again, still only drew 1,665 voters.
Kaylee Gonzalez, a downtown Winston-Salem resident said, “I didn’t even know there were elections going on,” when asked about voting in the primaries.
Northwest Ward Democratic primary winner, Jeff MacIntosh, said, “It’s disheartening that there were such few voters.”
His opponent in the upcoming general election, Lida Hayes- Calvert, said that the lower voter turn-out was a result of the people’s frustration with their government and the lack of diversity among the candidates in the primary.
“I think it says that there is a lot of frustration from the voters in Winston-Salem and that has created some apathy among the voters,” said Hayes- Calvert, “I hope and believe that turnout will increase in November, when voters have the chance to support a no-nonsense leader like myself who understands and shares their frustrations and will have the backbone necessary to make a positive difference.”
In a city that is run by mostly Democratic leaders in seven of the eight Winston-Salem wards (except the West Ward), including Denise Adams of the North Ward, Wanda Merschel in the Northwest Ward, Vivian Burke in the Northeast Ward, Derwin Montgomery of the East Ward, James Taylor, Jr. in the Southeast Ward, Molly Leight in the South Ward and Dan Besse in the Southwest Ward, Hayes-Calvert is in the minority running as a Republican.
Hayes- Calvert said: “I have found a tremendous amount of support for my conservative views throughout the Northwest Ward. I believe that the majority of voters are ready for a representative that has the same beliefs and values they do.”
Hayes-Calvert’s support is visible throughout the city with numerous supporters placing yard signs on their front lawns. As a conservative business woman, Hayes-Calvert has years of experience with downtown and feels she can assist small downtown businesses the same way she did her own, S & L Painting and Decorating, she said.
If elected, Hayes-Calvert hopes to “focus on eliminating wasteful spending from the budget and making the government more efficient.” She explains that the city will have to “lower taxes and ensure that essential services are provided at the highest quality with the lowest cost.”
Hayes-Calvert explained that lowering taxes for the citizens of the Northwest Ward improve the economy throughout the ward.
“By lowering taxes it will allow families to have more money to spend on their day-to-day needs and it will give business owners both downtown and throughout the ward more available cash to reinvest in their business,” says Hayes-Calvert.
Her opponent Jeff Macintosh, a successful real estate businessman and Winston-Salem resident for three decades said: “My background is broader and deeper than my opponent’s. I have the experience that urban and suburban neighborhoods require.”
As part of numerous committees throughout downtown Winston-Salem and the rest of Winston-Salem and as a former downtown resident, Macintosh added: “I’ve been involved in the neighborhoods for over 30 years. I have the best understanding of the communities and what needs to be accomplished.”
For downtown, “My biggest thing, going forward, is to increase the amount of taxes collected without increasing the tax rate on our residents,” Macintosh said, “I don’t want to put the burden of higher taxes on the residents.”
To do this, he wants to increase revenue on property taxes where he said you “get the biggest bang for your buck downtown” and there needs to be an increase in economic development in three main areas: tourism, bringing big companies with well-paying jobs to the city and continued support of retirees.
This involves creating residential areas and collaborating with entities that pay property taxes to the city.
Overall what Macintosh really wants and says he can provide is a good government where taxes are still low but revenue is high so that projects, such as funding parks and improving schools can happen.