Wray wins House seat

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 18, 2004

JACKSON – The numbers remain unofficial, but it appears that Michael Wray of Gaston will serve as the representative from State House District 27.

In a run-off election on Tuesday, Wray rode the strength of a big victory in his home county of Northampton to narrowly defeat Richard M. Henderson of Vance County. With all precincts reporting in the three-county district, Wray earned 2,981 votes (51 percent) compared to 2,822 for Henderson.

Wray, a former member of the Gaston Town Council, won by more than a two-to-one margin in Northampton where he was named on 1,734 ballots. Henderson picked-up 811 votes on Wray’s home turf.

Henderson, a pastor who ran unsuccessfully for the same seat in 1998, was able to remain neck-and-neck with Wray by winning his home county of Vance. There, Henderson collected 1,123 votes compared to 665 for Wray.

Henderson also carried Warren County, but by the slimmest of margins as he was named on 888 ballots while Wray picked-up 582 votes.

&uot;We were keeping close tabs on the results as they came in,&uot; said Wray, a 37-year-old who built his campaign around economic development, job creation, education and healthcare concerns. &uot;We knew we had a 465-vote lead after Northampton and Vance reported their numbers. When we saw that we only lost Warren by a little over 300 votes, we knew we had it.&uot;

When Wray referred to &uot;we,&uot; it was in reference to what he called a team effort.

&uot;I was truly blessed to have many hard-working volunteers on my side,&uot; he stressed. &uot;We went into this election with the mindset of we’re not taking anything for granted. We had a vision and we stayed on course with that vision, never losing faith or hope that we could win this election. We stayed hard at work until the polls closed at 7:30 (p.m.).&uot;

Wray said he would now shift gears, making the transition from a candidate to a representative.

&uot;The first objective is to go to these town and county government meetings to get an understanding of what are the top priorities that I need to address once taking office,&uot; he stated. &uot;It’s my goal to be a representative of all the people of District 27.&uot;

The run-off was staged because neither of the two candidates collected the necessary 40 percent of the vote during the July 20 Primary. There, Henderson edged Wray by a mere eight votes (2,882-to-2,874). That left each candidate with 29 percent of the vote.

Three others also vied for the House District 27 seat in July. Grace Edwards of Henrico, a veteran member of the Northampton County Board of Education, placed third in that race, collecting 2,290 votes (23 percent). John Soles of Manson finished with 1,586 votes (16 percent) while Julius Webb of Woodland was credited with 200 votes, despite the fact that he dropped out of the race shortly before the Primary.

Tuesday’s vote will become official following a canvass conducted tomorrow (Friday) by the Board of Elections offices in all three counties. Any protests concerning the election must be filed no later than Aug. 24. The State Board of Elections canvass will be held on Sept. 3 at which time they will certify all winners with the exception of districts where outstanding protests are pending.

In Tuesday’s only other run-off ballot whose results will affect the Roanoke-Chowan area, June S. Atkinson won a statewide battle against Marshall Stewart as the Democratic nominee for the State Superintendent of Public Instruction contest during November’s General Election. Statewide, Atkinson unofficially earned 44,003 votes (55 percent) compared to 35,664 (45 percent) for Stewart.