The general election ballot in Matthews will only have two mayoral candidates after John Higdon and Paul Bailey advanced in the town’s primary. But Mint Hill, just next door, will still have three mayoral candidates on the ballot.
Kristin Mavromatis, public information manager for Mecklenburg County, said the Town of Matthews charter states that it is required to have a primary in certain circumstances.
“Each small town has the right to set their own charter,” Mavromatis said. “Matthews’ charter forever has said if you have more than double the number that can take office, there will be a primary. In North Carolina, there are four ways you can set up your towns, and one is called ‘non-partisan with a primary,’ and that’s what Matthews chose in their charter.”
Mint Hill, along with other small towns in Mecklenburg County, does not have the same requirements in its charters. It has a ‘non-partisan plurality,’ which means there can be any number of candidates on the ballot by the time of the general election.
Mavromatis said the primary election cost between $20,000 and $25,000. The money came from the county rather than the town because Charlotte is such a big portion of Mecklenburg County.
“It would [be billed to the town] in any other large locality in North Carolina,” Mavromatis said. “In Mecklenburg County, the reason we do not charge small towns money is this is the first time this has ever happened. A, that Matthews has had a primary, and B, that day was also scheduled as a second primary for the City of Charlotte. The City of Charlotte did not need a second primary, but in the past, we’ve had second primaries.”
She also said the primary allows candidates to receive more donations. For just one election, a candidate is limited to receiving $5,400 from a single donor. But with two elections, that amount of money is doubled, allowing candidates to receive $10,800 from a single donor. However, Mavromatis said the candidates cannot receive all of the money at once.
Candidates’ finance reports can be found online at mecknc.gov/BOE. Mavromatis said every candidate who has received or spent more than $1,000 is required to file a report with the Board of Elections.
Residents of Matthews and Mint Hill will cast their votes Nov. 5 for town government races.