It’s all about the numbers

Our home town’s demographics have changed and the upcoming elections could be one major measure of how that change could reflect city government.

Numbers from the 2020 census show Minden’s former majority (white) is now firmly in the minority, with the city’s just under 12,000 population registering a tad over 53 percent black residents. We’re told those percentages may not be an indication of how registered voters stack up, but a friend tells us there’s a pretty good registration push in the works.

Just a reminder: April 1, 2020 census listed us at 11,928 and that’s down from April 1, 2010 when 13,082 citizens were counted. 

Three of the five council districts (A, B and C) have black residents strongly in the majority, with District B’s 69 percent showing the closest number. Meanwhile, D and E now are the remaining majority minority districts, and that’s where six candidates are in the running.

District D has an incumbent in the contest (Michael Roy) and he is facing off against a pair of challengers who might test whether or not the attitude of voters will favor those who have sat on a what has been perceived to be a seriously contentious council. From what we hear, nothing in D is a cinch. Both Habacu Morales and LaKeyla Williams are focusing on bringing a more civil tone to the five-person bench, and it’s a message that seems to be resonating. 

What one observer told us to watch is the numbers in D. While whites make up 63 percent of the residents, it’s not certain that all are happy with a council that many say has accomplished little. There are just over 30 percent blacks and those listed as “others” in D and it will be interesting to see if voters split along those lines. If either Morales or Williams cut into the 63 percent, this could be more than a swing district.

Now we come to E, where incumbent Pam Bloxom decided she has had enough of city government. Seeking the job are political newcomers Thomas Adams Jr., Michael Fluhr and Andy Pendergrass. Both Adams and Pendergrass are local businessmen while Fluhr has dealt with city councils as Minden’s city clerk. He has retired, but for some reason the city hasn’t been working hard to find a replacement.

This E deal is going to be a test of who has the most “want to” since there’s nothing in the background of any of these men that should provide negative campaign fodder. We’re told supporters have encouraged their candidate to buy plenty of comfortable walking shoes, strengthen their shaking hand and practicing baby kissing skills. 

Adams is a political newbie, but reportedly has been working hard on establishing contacts. Fluhr has seen city government from the inside and as one source noted, sometimes it isn’t good to see how the sausage is made.  Pendergrass, a financial adviser,  has lineage in politics. His father, Ty, served on Minden’s city council under mayors Bill Robertson and Tommy Davis. Andy P.  let his intentions of seeking the council seat be known for some time after Bloxom decided against seeking another term.

Remember those city-wide numbers? Take another close look while considering what we might expect in this year’s run for the mayor’s chair. With two white males (Nick Cox and Billy Mills) in the running against the city’s first-ever black female candidate (Terika Williams-Walker), just how important are Minden’s demographics? And how important is it to consider a potential percentage split? 

A longtime friend says there are three types of numbers and only one really counts: there’s population breakdown, registered voters, and plain ol’ voters. Yes, Virginia, it’s only the last that counts. While the population sits at roughly 53-42 percent black majority, one has to ask if that translates to a similar percentage in registered voters. And, one must also ask what percent of those percentages will go to the polls this Fall. There could be fewer than the numbers would lead a person to predict, and it will depend on the stimulus.

It’s almost certain, according to those who are paid to know, that we  will see runoffs in several city races. Odds are about even that runoffs will take place in all races except for Chief of Police where only Jared McIver and Larry Morris Jr. have filed. It’s all about the numbers.

An old election adage tells us that in a runoff, the person who ran out front (but didn’t get that magic 50 percent-plus one) can’t automatically expect to pick up much support the next time around. In fact, Mr/Ms Frontrunner often gets practically the same percentage. Why? Many watchers believe those who voted for the others in whichever race voted against the individual who happened to finish ahead. True or not, numbers are very predictable.

As we said, it’s all about the numbers. But, we must remember, it’s also about who controls the numbers. Find who’s pulling the strings and you’ll find who’s being pulled. You may also find who’s being duped. Like the Fab Four in Wizard of Oz, we need to pay attention to the person behind the curtain.