Updated: 8:22 p.m. — Ian Baltutis and Joey Cook Sr. won the primary election on Oct. 8. To read more about the election results click here.
BURLINGTON N.C. — There are three candidates vying for votes in the primary municipal election, which will be held this Tuesday, Oct. 8. The mayoral office for the City of Burlington will be on the ballot. Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. Voters will decide which two candidates they want to see face off in the general election on Nov. 5. The deadline to register to vote in November is this Friday.
Incumbent mayor Ian Baltutis is running for a third term as mayor of Burlington. He announced his intentions to seek reelection last spring. Baltutis is an Elon University alumnus and he and his wife own several businesses in the city of Burlington.
Lisa Patrick— the only female candidate for mayor — is originally from Boston, Massachusetts and has lived in Burlington for the past 22 years. Patrick says she is a “housewife” after working at Carolina Residential Mortgage for several years.
Born and raised in Burlington, Joey Cook Sr. is a self-employed house flipper. The 61-year-old has a degree in business administration from Technical Institute of Alamance — now Alamance Community College.
Being the incumbent, Baltutis’ goals if he is reelected differ from his opponents. Baltutis wants to continue developing the programs he started in his past two terms and points to transportation as an example of a program that took him two terms to complete.
“So we've started to see the fruits of our labor in the expanded pedestrian improvements, the bus system expansion, Greenways throughout the city, [and] economic development projects,” he said.
The Elon-Burlington Greenway was conceptualized in 2017 and is expected to be completed in December 2019.
Baltutis also wants to continue working on affordable housing, the implementation of the downtown strategic plan and supporting small businesses.
Patrick said that if she was elected mayor she wanted to bring more jobs to the city. She said that jobs, “keep people out of trouble.” Patrick said she’s going to do that “through prayer and the Alamance Chamber of Commerce, that’s their job.”
While the goals of Alamance Chamber of Commerce is to support businesses and promote the economic benefits that come with that, the chamber is a membership based group. The chamber supports businesses in Alamance County by providing them with education and resources.
Cook’s main goal if he is elected mayor is to help the elderly. He said that there are expenses for the elderly that others don’t “realize how hard it is on them.”
The United States Census Bureau estimates as of 2018 approximately 17 percent of Burlington residents are 65 years old and over.
Cook’s plan to implement this goal relies on members of the community.
“It’s gonna take Christians to go and do this,” he said. “It’s something that we all have to do on our own.” Cook said that the power of the mayor’s office is limited to what they can do about helping older people.
“I don’t think it’s nothing that the city could do,” he said. Cook said that "maybe" he would be in favor of cutting taxes on seniors.
Religion is a motivator for Patrick and Cook’s candidacy. Both candidates said that they were inspired to run because of their faith.
“Reading the Bible, praying for the children,” Patrick said is what inspired her to run for Mayor.
Patrick also wants to look towards the Bible for guidance if she is elected.
“I don't have a college degree like my opponent who is currently mayor. I have to rely on the Bible and I'm not afraid to say that,” she said. “I'm also going to rely on a lot of other counsel, the Bible tells you to do that.”
Cook felt inspired to run because of Christianity. When Baltutis was sworn in as mayor he did not put his hand on the Bible, which directly motivated Cook to run.
“I just feel like the big thing was the mayor,” Cook said. “He didn’t put his hand on the Bible and I feel like he’s not really a Christian and I want to get the Lord back into the city council.”
Baltutis said he deliberately chose not to take his oath of office on the Bible because he believes it will help him better serve the Burlington community. Deciding to affirm his oath — instead of swearing his oath on a Bible — was “one of the most difficult decisions of [his] entire life.”
“Elected office is better served when you have a diverse representative group of people,” Baltutis said. “Who can serve without being biased or prejudice based on how they might affirm their oath or swear their oath.”
Crime was a key issue addressed by the three candidates. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations 2017 annual summary report states that there were over 4,000 criminal offenses in Alamance County.
Patrick said that her plan for crime begins with praying.
“Praying is key to everything,” she said.
Patrick states that she wants to lean on the Burlington Police Department and Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson to solve crime in the city and that she personally can’t cure crime “immediately.” Patrick said that she is going to pray on how she can help law enforcement decrease crime.
Cook also wants to look toward Burlington PD to decrease crime in Burlington. Cook wants to stop crime before it happens and his solution is increased policing.
“What I’d like to do is have them there before it happens, riding around checking the territory,” Cook said. “Maybe have two officers in a car where they can watch what’s going on and if they see something they can stop it before it happens.”
Baltutis favors programming as a preventative measure against crime. He believes that implementing programming that targets children at risk for crime as well as those with a criminal record would make the Burlington community safer.
“We've put some amazing programs into place like the youth solutions program where we're trying to tackle crime and gangs at the earliest age possible to cut off that pipeline,” he said. “At the same time, there's a lot of work that needs to be done on making sure that folks with a criminal record have access to employment, education and housing.”