Blackburn makes Ahoskie history

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 5, 2003

AHOSKIE – Ahoskie has a new Mayor and for the first time in the town’s 110-year history, a female will sit in the center chair in the Town Council chambers.

Political newcomer Linda Blackburn unseated four-term Mayor Arthur Lee Wiggins during Tuesday’s local municipal election in a vote not as close as expected. Blackburn mustered nearly 64 percent of the vote (306 ballots) compared to Wiggins’ 174 votes (36 percent).

&uot;I feel elated,&uot; said Blackburn, Director of Hertford County’s Office on Aging. &uot;It was very obvious throughout the day on Tuesday that the voter turnout wasn’t that large. With that in mind, I figured each and every vote would be very critical in what I saw as a very tight race between myself and Mayor Wiggins.&uot;

As things turned out, Blackburn won by more than a two-to-one margin in two of Ahoskie’s three precincts. She swept Ahoskie 1 by a tally of 225-110 and nearly tripled (51-20) the current Mayor in Ahoskie 2. Wiggins avoided the sweep by edging Blackburn, 38-28, in Ahoskie 3.

&uot;I do appreciate the confidence the voters have in me,&uot; she stressed. &uot;I promise to work hard for all of Ahoskie.&uot;

Ahoskie’s Mayor-Elect, who will be sworn in on Dec. 9, said that she received a call from Wiggins on Tuesday night, just after the unofficial totals were released from the Hertford County Board of Elections office in Winton.

&uot;Arthur Lee was very gracious,&uot; she said. &uot;There’s no doubting his love for this town. He is dedicated and determined when it comes to looking after the best interests of Ahoskie, character traits he will continue to show in his job as Executive Director of our Chamber of Commerce. I’m looking forward to working with Arthur Lee in his capacity at the Chamber.&uot;

As far as being Ahoskie’s first-ever female Mayor, Blackburn was humbled by that fact, but quickly brushed it aside by saying, &uot;This is not a gender issue. This is an issue about moving Ahoskie forward. On Tuesday, the voters signaled they wanted change in the leadership of this town. Now is the time to stop talking about change and go out and get things done for the betterment of this town.&uot;

Blackburn did take a moment to remember the person she felt played the biggest role in her decision to get into politics

&uot;My role model in all of this was Angela Early,&uot; noted Blackburn in reference to the former Ahoskie Councilwoman who passed away in 2001 shortly after announcing that she would not seek reelection. &uot;I wish Angela was here to see this.&uot;

While Blackburn will prepare to serve her history-making first term in office, another female will return to the Town Council.

Incumbent Councilwoman Elaine Myers fended off a challenge from Addie Ruth Holloman for the Ward A seat. Myers, who garnered 263 votes, easily outdistanced her challenger as Holloman was named on 83 ballots.

Although she is an incumbent, Tuesday’s election by ballot was a first for Myers. She was appointed in 2001 to fill the unexpired term of former Councilman Doug Brinkley.

Another appointee also won his first actual election on Tuesday. Larry &uot;Cutt&uot; Vann ran unopposed in the Ward B Council race and received 93 votes. Vann was appointed over the summer to fill the unexpired term of Andrew Hunter who resigned to spend more time with his family.

There was some confusion among Ahoskie voters on Tuesday.

According to Sheila Fleetwood, Director of the Hertford County Board of Elections, some Ahoskie voters were apparently under the impression that they could vote for both Ward A and B candidates.

&uot;That’s not the case,&uot; explained Fleetwood. &uot;All registered voters in Ahoskie are permitted to vote for Mayor, no matter where they live in town. However, only those voters residing in Ward A are allowed to vote for the Ward A candidate or candidates. The same for Ward B.&uot;

Even though none of Tuesday’s outcomes are in question, Fleetwood, by law, must complete a canvass of all polling places throughout the county. That process will take place on Friday at which time the votes will become official.