Precinct G21: where candidates find voters, and poll workers find love

0
280
zack matheny justin outling
Justin Outling (right), the incumbent in District 3, greets former council member Zack Matheny outside of the Mendenhall Middle School polling place. (photo by Jordan Green)

Zack Matheny, a former Greensboro city councilman, pointed at the patch of real estate outside Mendenhall Middle School where Justin Outling was standing on Election Day afternoon.

“Every election I stood right here,” said Matheny, who served on council from 2007 to 2015. “The tradition continues!”

Outling, who is defending his seat against challenger Craig Martin, has learned a secret of politics in District 3, a pie-shaped wedge that splays out from a point downtown across the northern end of the city: Precinct G21 in the New Irving Park neighborhood is where the voters are. And the polling place at Mendenhall Middle School has a handy feature for a rainy election day — a sheltered walkway.

While other normally busy polling places around the city flagged, G21 saw a steady stream of voters, even around 1:30 p.m. after the lunch rush. Even Vernon Robinson, an ultra-conservative activist and former Winston-Salem city council member, was there collecting signatures to help get the Constitutional Party on the ballot in North Carolina.

Matheny said the G21 polling place holds all kinds of magic: His mother met Tom Phillips, another former city council member, there a couple years ago. Phillips was working the poll for Councilman Mike Barber and Matheny’s mother was campaigning for her son. She asked Phillips to vote for Zack, and later Phillips asked Zack for his mother’s telephone number. They’ve been dating ever since.

In other election news, the Guilford County Board of Elections reported that a power outage resulted in the polling places at Genesis Baptist Church and Peeler Recreation Center — both in District 2 — losing power around 1 p.m. Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said the voting machines can run on battery and both polling places remain fully operational.