Buchanan will be alone in May town elections

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BOTETOURT – Buchanan will be the only town in Botetourt holding town elections in May.

Fincastle and Troutville have opted for November elections when voters choose other county, state and national officeholders.

All six Buchanan council seats and the mayor’s job are up for election May 4. All are two-year terms.

Residents of the town who want to be on the ballot have until March 2 to file the necessary paperwork to do so.

Troutville and Fincastle asked for charter changes to move their municipal elections to the November general election. Traditionally in Virginia, towns and cities have held elections in May, but the State Board of Elections, local electoral boards and voter registrars have encouraged towns to move their elections to November, partly as a cost-savings measure.

Troutville Town Council agreed to the move in 2006 and held its first November election in 2008—and had its best turnout in recent memory when over 500 votes were cast for council and mayor.

At that time, Troutville also began staggering its two-year terms. Three of its six council members will be up for election this fall. Those council seats are held by C.J. Boothe, Andrew Moore and John Cook. The other three members were elected to serve a one-time, three-year term until the November 2011 election when those terms will revert to two years again.

Fincastle was also set to have its first November election this fall, but has asked the General Assembly to change its charter again so council members are elected to four-year, staggered terms. Three of the six council members and the mayor will be elected to four-year terms this fall and three council members will be elected to one-time, two-year terms to begin the staggering process if approved by the General Assembly (see related story).

Buchanan council has consistently favored keeping the May election since the idea was first proposed a few years ago by the voter registrar.

Now that the other two towns have moved their elections to the fall, Buchanan will have to pick up the entire cost of the May election.

Voter Registrar Phylis Booze estimated the cost will be around $2,500. She said the cost has been divided between the towns in the past.

Programming alone for the voting machines is about $1,000 of that cost.

Buchanan officials wanted to get the General Assembly to allow small towns like Buchanan to revert to paper ballots for town elections in an effort to avoid the programming cost, but Del. Lacey Putney indicated there would be little if any sentiment among legislators to do that.

Those on Buchanan council are C.D. Barger, Mike Burton, Cleatus Newcomb, Carson Scaggs, Dee Smith and Crystal Ware. Tom Middlecamp is mayor.