By Kayla Berenson & Justin Vick
MATTHEWS – Commissioner John Higdon earned more votes than Mayor Paul Bailey in the Oct. 8 primary election for Matthews mayor, but the two will square off again in the Nov. 5 general election.
Higdon had 209 more votes than Bailey, earning nearly 55% of the vote in a three-candidate race. The purpose of the primary was to narrow the mayor race to two candidates.
Jason Majewski was the odd man out. His 54 votes were not enough to advance.
The 38-year-old father of three moved to Matthews nearly a year ago and told Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly that he decided to run to give people in his demographic an option for mayor.
“My sense is that there are a lot of young families here in Matthews,” he told the newspaper last month, adding he wanted to engage them more on issues related to education, safety and the library.
He submitted paperwork to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections vowing that he would not collect or spend money outside of his personal checking account and he would spend no more than $1,000.
Majewski told the newspaper that he was relying on word of mouth and speaking engagements. He did not participate at a candidate forum last month at Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church.
Bailey and Higdon, on the other hand, are seasoned political veterans.
Higdon’s campaign had raised $10,141 through Aug. 27, including $3,000 of his own money, according to finance records.
Bailey had raised $8,500 through Aug. 27, including $5,000 he loaned to his campaign in July.
Voter turnout was about 7.5% with 1,569 ballots cast among the 20,952 registered voters,
according to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections. The number of ballots cast for mayor races for the last three elections has ranged from 1,841 in 2011 to 2,411 in 2013.
“It’s been slow, but that’s what you expect with a one-vote election,” Bailey said at the polls. “I’ve gotten some pretty good feedback from people. It’s going well.”
According to campaigners volunteering for Higdon at Elizabeth Lane Elementary, the school is a popular polling location. However, by noon, they had only seen about 60 people.
Bailey has been using newspaper advertisements and social media to get his message across. Moving forward, he said his strategy will not change as it is already in place.
Higdon was disappointed with the turnout for the primary. Still, he felt confident about his campaign moving forward.
Higdon said if the primary results work out in his favor and he moves on to the general election in November, he will start to focus on candidates for commissioner that he would prefer to work with.
He does not plan to change his strategy either.
“We’ve had a strong, active campaign so far,” Higdon said. “So we will continue that moving forward.”
Still, campaigners for both Higdon and Bailey felt positive for the future of the mayoral race.
“I think Paul has done a wonderful job in Matthews,” campaigner Linda Lynch said. “I would love to see what else he can do for the town.”
Higdon’s supporters said they were ready for a change in office.
“I think his ideas and his theories are a step in the right direction for our town,” campaigner Lindsay Sawey said, citing ideas to restore relations with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, improve traffic flow downtown and protect trees.