HOFFMAN — Two more incumbents have thrown their hats in the ring for this fall’s upcoming municipal elections.
Hoffman Mayor Tommy Hart and Councilwoman Cynthia Northcutt both filed at the Richmond County Board of Elections on Wednesday.
Candidates for political office in the town of fewer than 600 have been slow to come out of the woodwork, with Rory Kevin Jones — a current councilman — becoming the first to file on Tuesday.
The other three council members — Ricarrdo Anderson, Althea Sloan Cobb and Daniel Kelly — have only until noon on Friday to announce their intentions to run again.
The seats in Hoffman are filled every two years in a nonpartisan, plurality election — which means the candidates with the five highest vote totals win.
According to Bob Joyce of the N.C. School of Government, that type of election is the “most simple” and most common in the state.
He said most municipalities have four-year, staggered terms, which would prevent a “full applecart turnover” like the situation in Hoffman.
Citing a state statute, Joyce said if candidates have not filed for all the offices to be filled by the end of the period, then the local board of elections can opt to extend filing for another five days. If no one files during that time — or if the board decides not to extend the filing period — only those who filed will be on the ballot.
Joyce said there is a chance that some people could be elected by write-in vote in November, as municipal elections are the only kind of elections in which those votes really count.
If a write-in candidate wins, but doesn’t want the seat, then that seat would be declared vacant and filled by appointment.
“It gets kind of confusing to figure out what happens down the line,” he said. “Suppose nobody files or gets written in. That means nobody got any votes, that means nobody won.”
Quoting General Statute 128-7, Joyce said, “All officers shall continue in their respective offices until their successors are elected or appointed, and duly qualified.”
That’s where the confusion comes in.
Since the council is made up of the top vote-getters, a determination has to be made on who stays and who goes.
Joyce said the council could either all agree or draw lots to see who holds over.
Elijah Daniel Lockhart also filed for a seat on the Dobbins Heights Town Council on Wednesday. He will be facing off against Councilwoman Mary Anne Gibson, Barbara Young and Eddie McRae for two seats, currently held by Gibson and Gracie Jackson.
That election will be held in October.
Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.