EDITORIAL: Voters show ‘Sanford Matters’

Sep. 12, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

Sanford citizens made a statement about the city’s future during Tuesday’s primary election.

All four of the proposed $14.5 million bond referendums passed. Pending the final count — which will include provisional ballots, not expected to change the result — the bonds will allow for four major new projects in downtown Sanford and Jonesboro. They include:

•$6.5 million streetscape bond, which will make streetscape improvements.

• $4 million greenway bond, which will extend the Endor Iron Furnace Greenway from Kiwanis Family Park to Central Carolina Hospital before looping back to downtown Sanford.

• $2 million parks and recreational bond, which will create an interactive play area with water elements.

• $2 million sidewalk bond, which will expand and repair sidewalks within city limits.

The closest of the referendum votes involved the greenway bonds, with the “yes” votes outnumbering the “no’s” by just 45 votes.

The bond votes, as expected, were tight. And while the voter turnout was low (a mere 16.88 percent), those who cared enough to go to the polls to make their voices heard indicated they were ready for Sanford to take a step forward.

Former Sanford City Council Joe Martin, in speaking to The Herald about the bonds in August, said, “These projects — some of which I worked for years on the city council — will push our community in the right direction.”

Martin, who served as part of the “Sanford Matters” group supporting the bonds, added, “We are losing the race against other communities and, when put in place, these proposals will help us regain lost ground and be competitive once more.”

We rejoice in the results of the bond vote.

Obviously, there were those who were unhappy with the results. One social media commenter opposed to the bonds posted this statement: “Hope those that voted for that bond have jobs! Some of us are sick of this city council milking us. But [please] go take a walk on a pretty greenway while other families struggle to pay the bills. Thanks a lot!”

But the disappointed were in the minority, and now city officials have been given a clear direction on how to proceed — which should lead to meaningful improvements that help make our city a more attractive place.

Tuesday’s vote also brought other changes. Democrat voters went for the challenger, instead of the incumbent, in two of their three primaries, choosing youthful challengers over seasoned veterans in two races.

First-time candidate Chet Mann pulled in 66 percent of the vote to oust incumbent Cornelia Olive in the Sanford mayoral race, while another newcomer, Chas Post, notched 65 percent of the vote to defeat incumbent L.I. “Poly” Cohen for the council member at-large seat.

Democrats in Ward 3 stuck with incumbent J.D. Williams, who recorded 81 percent of the vote in defeating challenger Ervin J. Fox.

In the Republican primary, Max Dolan captured 63 percent of the vote to defeat Keith Clark in the at-large race; Dolan will face Post in November.

So, now we look toward the upcoming canvass to verify Tuesday’s vote — and then to the November general election.

Whether one was for or against the bond issues, the campaign slogan of bond supporters “Sanford Matters” is appropriate. Sanford does and should matter to all residents.