District 4 race still uncertain in Smithfield

pseligson@newsobserver.comNovember 8, 2013 

Bill Parrish, 74, submits his ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 5, at the South Smithfield voting precinct, with the help of volunteer Janis Howard.

PAULA SELIGSON — pseligson@newsobserver.com

Johnston County voters on Tuesday agreed to borrow a total of $64 million for the county’s public schools and community college. Also, they elected town leaders – mostly incumbents but also some newcomers – though the outcome of one race is uncertain.

Smithfield’s District 4 Town Council race is too close to call. Voters on Tuesday gave Roger A. “Chubs” Wood 135 votes; Carvus Andrew “Andy” Byrd got 133. Two voters in Smithfield cast provisional ballots, which the Johnston County Board of Elections won’t consider until Tuesday, Nov. 12. That two-vote count could produce a tie or give Wood the win.

On Wednesday, Byrd, who trailed by two votes after Tuesday’s balloting, said he wasn’t sure if he would ask for a recount.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t be so close, but it really came down to poor turnout on both sides,” Byrd said. “I’m mighty proud of the people that went and voted, all of them, especially all of the people that supported me.”

If the two provisional votes go to Byrd, the Board of Elections would break the tie by drawing lots, said Leigh Anne Price, director of elections.

Wood said he was encouraged by the number of people who came out to vote; the total was more than in the last election for District 4.

“I’m so thankful for the voters that supported myself, and I look forward to serving them if I’m elected,” he said.

In the uncontested District 4 election in 2009, only 52 people voted.

Wood said it was only fitting the outcome of the race was uncertain.

“Both of us have had avid supporters that supported us, and it’s probably fitting that it last another week, so it’s OK,” he said, laughing. “It’s a process.”

If elected, Wood said he looked forward to representing all of District 4, including those who voted for Byrd.

Four Smithfield candidates ran unopposed Tuesday. Thery were John Lampe for mayor, Marlon A. Lee for District 1 councilman, incumbent Perry Harris in District 2 and Travis Scott in District 4.

Oliver re-elected

Selma voters re-elected incumbent mayor Cheryl L. Oliver, who captured 68.8 percent of the vote.

Oliver said she felt honored by the strong vote of confidence.

“I believe it was also an endorsement on the council and the decision-making, fiscal responsibility and the overall tone we’re setting for our town,” she said. “I believe the vote, too, shows that we’ve made strides in unifying the town. And the great thing about that is it helps us bring in a positive image to prospective citizens and businesses, and that’s always good to have when you go out and market your town to others.”

Incumbent councilwoman Jackie Lacy won also re-election. But Selma voters elected newcomer William E. Overby to fill the other open council seat.

“I think it’s going to be an awesome journey,” Overby said. “I’m looking very much forward to actually being part of the committee and seeing how we can make some changes in Selma.”

School, college bonds

Both bond issues on Tuesday’s ballot passed with strong support. The $57 million for the county’s public schools passed with 75.66 percent of the vote, while $7 million for Johnston Community College won 76.33 percent.

“I am very proud to work in a county that sees the importance of a strong education system and continues to support its growth and achievements,” Superintendent Ed Croom said in a written statement.

The public schools will use the money to build two new campuses, convert a middle school to an elementary school and expand many of the county’s other schools. The money will help the school system handle the roughly 700 new students it expects each year.

JCC President David Johnson thanked county commissioners for putting the bonds on the ballot and voters for approving them.

“We (will) put that money to good use in terms of preparing the college to be ready to anticipate the future educational needs of the students who will come to us in years to come, and especially in terms of preparing our facilities to welcome 21st century learning opportunities,” he said.

JCC will hire architectural engineers to revise the college’s facilities plan. Other bond dollars will go to maintenance, such as leaking roofs, and to yet-to-be-determined buildings, such as a hospital simulator.

The money will become available as bonds are sold in early 2014, County Manager Rick Hester said.

Around the county

In Archer Lodge, councilmen Carlton Vinson and Mark B. Wilson were unopposed in their bids for re-election to the town council.

Incumbents Will T. Chandler and Frederick D. Nelson Jr. won re-election to the Benson Town Council. Political newcomer Jerry Medlin won a seat after a third council member chose not to seek re-election. Mayor William W. Massengill Jr. was unopposed in his bid for re-election.

Clayton voters stuck with their incumbents. Councilmen Michael Grannis, Art Holder and Bob Satterfield were the top three finishers in the race for three seats on the town council. They were relatively easy winners over political newcomers Bobby Bunn, Eboni Harrell and John McFadden.

Four Oaks voters re-elected both incumbents running for town commissioner. John G. Hatch and Walter R. Holt outran politi Jason H. Grady. Incumbent Mayor Linwood H. Parker was unopposed.

In Kenly, David Grady will continue as mayor. Incumbent Bonnie Williamson will stay on the council, joining newcomers James Little and Joe McDougald. McDougald won the race to fill an unexpired term term on the council, beating Sherwood Mitchell.

In Micro, Jim Wiesner won the race for mayor against incumbent Gene Hinton. Incumbents Johnny Dixon and Timothy Earp will continue to serve as town commissioners, joining Donald Holland.

Pine Level re-elected three of four incumbent town commissioners: Karen V. Anderson, Jimmy F. Garner and Phil Pittman. Newcomer Greg Baker also won election, slipping past Anthony Gudac by nine votes. Mayor Jay Jeffrey “Jeff” Holt was unopposed.

Princeton voters re-elected their unopposed incumbents: Mayor Donald B. Rains and town commissioners David C. Starling and Larry Whithrow.

In Wilson’s Mills, incumbent Philip Wright ran unopposed and will continue as the town’s mayor. Incumbent Town Council member Kenneth Jones won re-election. Newcomers Fleta Byrd and Randy Jernigan will fill the other two open seats.

Seligson: 919-836-5768

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