Voters in Union County will have one more chance July 15 to determine the three candidates who will appear on the November county commission ballot after Tracy Kuehler filed for a runoff following her narrow loss in the primary.
Kuehler and Stony Rushing, who both have been on the board in previous years, will be campaigning in the coming weeks trying to convince voters they are the best representative to fill the third seat on the board. Incumbent and current vice-chairman Jerry Simpson, who brought in 20 percent (6,717) of the votes, and Lance Simpson, with 13.2 percent (4,439) of the votes, have already claimed victory and will not appear on the second primary ballot. Rushing came in third in the Republican primary with 4,289 votes. Kuehler trailed not far behind with 4,188 votes.
The three Republican candidates who come out on top will likely step onto the board at the end of the year, as there are no Democratic candidates filed to run. The only candidate who could challenge the three Republican candidates would be a write-in.
This is the first runoff election for county commission since 2006, Union County Board of Elections Director John Whitley said, which included current candidate Rushing who did not win. Kuehler said she filed for the runoff because she owed it to her supporters to give it one more try.
“It was basically because of all the volunteers and the people that I met along the journey not wanting to give up,” she said.
And when it comes to preparing for the election day, Kuehler will be focused on “educating people” on the different stances she and Rushing take on issues important to Union County voters, like developer’s contributing to infrastructure, giving the school system taxing authority – which Kuehler does not support – and more, she said.
“It’s basically going to come down to which one of us the voter identifies with,” she added.
Rushing said it’s all about which candidate has the ability to work with other boards in the county to ensure county business moves forward.
“That’s going to be the base factor, just someone who is going to work with the current boards or someone who is just going to fight for what they want until the next election,” he said.
Regardless of where voters stand, the most difficult part of the July 15 election will be bringing Union County residents to the polls, as voter turnout for runoffs is typically very low, Rushing said.
Important dates for the runoff election are: May 31, absentee ballot voting begins; July 3, early voting begins; July 8, last day to request absentee ballot by mail; July 12, early voting ends; and July 15, polls open for the second primary from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Go to co.union.nc.us/government/board ofelections.aspx to find polling locations or more information about the runoff election.