Controversy fuels surge in early voting in Rowan, Cabarrus - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Controversy fuels surge in early voting in Rowan, Cabarrus commission races

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SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) -

County Commission races in two local counties are drawing a lot of attention, and it's not all good.

In both Cabarrus and Rowan, the primary election has taken on an intensity normally reserved for heated presidential election years, according to Board of Elections staff in both counties.

"What we're hearing is that a lot of people are really interested in the county commission race," Rowan County Board of Elections Director Nancy Evans told WBTV.  "We voted 15% in 2010 and 30 some % in 2012, so I'm hoping we'll get at least 20% this time, so that would be a little bit more in voter turnout."

In Cabarrus, the local Republican party found itself in trouble with the state party for seeming to disavow two of its own candidates.  The state GOP demanded action, forcing the local party to retract a resolution and issue an apology.

In Rowan, groups opposed to the current commission chairman have formed and have been using social media as well as traditional radio and newspaper advertising to try and defeat Jim Sides in the primary.

Controversial issues have been at the heart of the races.  In Rowan there is controversy over the county purchase of the Salisbury Mall and the lawsuit brought on the county by the ACLU over sectarian prayer in the commission meetings, and Chairman Sides reluctance to vote for incentive packages for potential businesses.

District Judge candidate James Randolph was working the poll at the Rowan Public Library on Tuesday.  

"I've been here since 6:30, I was the first candidate here, and I've just been greeting voters as they come to the library to vote," Randolph told WBTV.  "This campaign seems to be driven by the county commission race, so a lot of people really have not made up their minds about the judicial race, so we're educating them that it is a non partisan election, everyone gets to vote on that."

In Cabarrus there is great disagreement over the county budget with a majority of commissioners led by Jason Oesterreich being accused by county leaders of pushing a budget plan that would result in cuts to essential services.  The commissioners respond that they are trying to bring fiscal responsibility to the county.

In both counties early voting was higher than usual for a non-presidential election year.

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