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Cornelius News

Analysis: Why the race for mayor of Cornelius appears to be going down to the wire

Photo by Jason Benavides

Nov. 13. [Analysis] By Dave Vieser. It was almost 10:45 pm on Election Night when the last of the unofficial results came in from the Mecklenburg Board of Elections showing incumbent Woody Washam with a 13-vote lead over challenger Denis Bilodeau.

Did anyone think it would be this close?

While residents await the final official results due this Friday, Cornelius Today took the opportunity to explore the unofficial outcome with current and former officials, to get a sense of their reaction and level of surprise.

Denis Bilodeau (left), Woody Washam (right)

Commissioner Dave Gilroy, who is stepping down from the Town Board this fall, didn’t seem shocked. “The people want change,” he said.

Former Commissioner Mike Miltich, who ran unsuccessfully for his old seat on the board, had a different take. “Watching the interactions during voting, I felt Woody had a huge lead…boy was I wrong,” he said.

So what generated the close race? It depends with whom you speak.

Michael Miltich

Kurt Naas served on the Town Board from 2017 to 2019. “I think Woody had a tremendous advantage as a well-connected, long-term incumbent which was just enough to overcome any reservations about his record.”


Naas said Bilodeau could have challenged the mayor’s record on issues such as tax increases and the lack of road construction.

Indeed, transportation emerged as a top election issue.

While Bilodeau worked closely with the town’s Transportation Advisory Board, Washam chose to form a new Task Force to discuss transportation issues.

Kurt Naas

Some questioned the need for two separate committees, but the importance of that traffic and transportation during the election season cannot be underestimated.

Another issue which may have played a role in the campaign was the number of projects approved in town. Miltich thinks that anti-growth sentiments among some voters cut into Washam’s vote tally.

We asked Lake Norman Chamber CEO Bill Russell about the close race as well.

“Both Woody and Denis have very similar core beliefs and values and they are reflected when it comes to decisions they make on the dais. In the business community, I heard quite a few people speak about how both were close friends, and it would be a difficult decision to select one over the other.”

John Aneralla

More friends, more family?

John Aneralla, three-term former mayor of Huntersville, said both Bilodeau and Washam were “excellent candidates in this race, who are well-known.”

“Sometimes local elections come down to who has more friends and family,” he said.