I always eat my dinner at Grey’s Tavern on Election Night, a tradition that goes back probably a dozen years, when I used to drink my dinner at Grey’s Tavern on election night before heading over to the old courthouse to await the results with the rest of the gaggle.
I’ve come to appreciate Greensboro’s quaint tradition of watching the returns come in at the courthouse, with most of the candidates and their core team members reading and reacting in real time. It’s provincial in a way that I normally would mock — like a whole town gathering to wave at a train when it passes through — but it’s a fabulous spot for a reporter who can grab a whole evening’s worth of quotes and photographs in 30 minutes or so.
I’ve been in that building for every Greensboro council election since 2005, I believe, missing one year to watch Winston-Salem City Council returns come in from former alderman Larry Little’s backyard and another, in 2013, because I had been fired earlier that day.
That year I watched the returns from my couch, trying in vain to get my wife and children interested. No dice on that one.
It’s tough to get people interested in this stuff. I remind myself every odd-numbered year that maybe 20 percent of us care about any of the things that pertain to our municipal government, and about a quarter of that slice doesn’t even bother to vote before complaining or accusing.
Those numbers held this year, with about 14.7 percent of the Guilford County’s eligible electorate choosing to exercise that most democratic of rights.
But in the old courthouse on election night, everybody is pretty into it.
This year they jammed us all into the Blue Room: candidates, supporters, looky-loos and working press who operated in a zone defense to make sure the whole thing got covered.
I’ve been conflicted out of reporting on these races from the beginning, so I suppose I didn’t have to make my way to the old courthouse this year on election night. But I went anyway, because really there’s no place I’d rather be.