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MacIntosh wins Democratic primary for Northwest Ward seat of Winston-Salem City Council

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Jeff MacIntosh (Winston-Salem Journal photo)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Jeff MacIntosh won a three-way Democratic primary Tuesday, setting himself up for a race against Republican Lida Hayes-Calvert in the general election for the Northwest Ward seat of the Winston-Salem City Council.

In the primary, MacIntosh received more than enough votes — 65 percent — to stave off a runoff against one of the other two Democratic candidates, Noah Reynolds or Laura Elliott. MacIntosh got 1,085 votes, Reynolds 363 and Elliott 209, according to complete but unofficial results from the Forsyth County Board of Elections. MacIntosh needed at least 40 percent to avoid a runoff.

A match between Hayes-Calvert and MacIntosh has the potential to be one of the more interesting general contests for a city council seat because neither candidate heads into the fall with the power of incumbency, the ward has a large number of unaffiliated voters and each candidate boasts a solid record of public service.

Wanda Merschel, the chairwoman of the city council’s finance committee, announced in June that she would not seek re-election for the Northwest seat. Instead, she threw her support behind MacIntosh. He had worked on her campaign in the past and was able to parlay that experience into a win at the polls.

“ I’m relieved,” he said after the last few precincts reported their numbers. “I spent all day talking to people. … It came down to hard work. Lots of hard work. I treated it like it was a job and it was a matter of going out and hitting those marks. Hitting every possible neighborhood we could during the primaries”

MacIntosh and Hayes-Calvert have experience in the public sector.

Among her roles, Hayes-Calvert was an outspoken board member of the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem. In 2005, she voted against the housing agency’s $7 million budget because, she said at the time, it did not come with enough supporting documentation. She was also a member of a city advisory panel that earlier this year recommended $4.7 million in spending cuts and revenue increases as the council members prepared to negotiate the city’s annual budget.

“I want to congratulate Jeff on winning the Democratic primary,” Hayes-Calvert said. “I’m looking forward to a spirited race this fall. … I feel like it will be a clean, honest and professional race. Different ideas. Two good people.”

Among his experience, MacIntosh has been a member of the city’s Capital Needs Committee, Development Review-Related Advisory Committee, a board member of the nonprofit Preserve Historic Forsyth and president of the Holly Avenue Neighborhood Association.

For his part, Reynolds ran a well-financed campaign, spending about $13,000 by the end of August, leaving him with about $8,000 in the bank at the time. MacIntosh had spent around $9,000 and had $4,000 in reserve. Elliott had spent about $5,000.

Efforts to contact Elliott were unsuccessful.

Reynolds said he wants to see MacIntosh win.

“ I think I’m going to work to make sure Jeff wins against Lida. Stand behind my party. He’s won and he’s prepared to beat Lida,” Reynolds said.

The general contest is Nov. 5.

Of the ward’s 22,189 voters, more Democrats are registered than Republicans, 8,999 to 6,889, according to Aug. 2 statistics provided by the county elections board. The number of unaffiliated voters was 6,198. And there were 103 registered Libertarians. Merschel carried the ward by fewer than 200 votes among the 2,700 cast in 2009 against Peter Sorensen, the Republican candidate.

One of the key responsibilities of a council member is to vote on the city’s annual budget. Asked what the city’s current annual budget was, neither Hayes-Calvert nor MacIntosh could offer the correct number Tuesday. For the fiscal year ending June 30, it’s $379 million.

View more primary election results at the Winston-Salem Journal.