Two incumbents, two newcomers win in Gates

Published 12:47 am Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In Tuesday’s Primary election, Gates County voters were split when it came to political experience.

According to the unofficial numbers from the Gates County Board of Elections, two incumbents experienced the thrill of victory on Tuesday while two others felt the agony of defeat.

In the County Commissioner District 3 race, incumbent Kenneth Jernigan will see a second term in office as he was the top vote-getter in a three-person race. Jernigan, who serves as the Commission’s Vice-Chair, was named on 914 ballots (51.67% of the total votes cast). With no Republican opposition in November, Jernigan will begin his second, four-year term in December.

Placing second in the District 3 race was former commissioner Marsha Langston (who Jernigan defeated for the seat during the 2006 election). She garnered 721 votes (40.76 percent).

Political newcomer George Walters earned 134 votes (7.57%) in his first-ever bid for public office.

Gates County’s voters also favored incumbent Nell Wiggins in the Clerk of Court’s race. She won by a landslide, collecting 1,318 votes (73.14%) compared to 484 votes (26.86%) for political newcomer Wanda Colbert-Wiggins.

With no Republican opposition in November, Nell Wiggins will launch her third, four-year term as Gates County’s Clerk of Court.

On the opposite side of the coin, two political newcomers unseated a pair of incumbents in the other two board of commissioners’ races.

In District 1, Jack Owens captured 55.31 percent of the Primary vote and won his first-ever political race. Owens was named on 974 ballots, defeating incumbent Carlton Nickens (787 votes; 44.69%) for the Democratic nomination.

Owens will face Republican Jim Miller in the November General Election with the winner earning the District 1 Commissioner’s seat.

In a tightly contested race, the majority of Gates County Democratic voters dictated a change in the ownership of the District 2 Commissioner’s seat. There, political newcomer John Hora edged incumbent Wade Askew by less than 50 votes.

Hora earned 918 votes (51.60%) compared to 861 votes (48.40%) for Askew.

Hora faces no Republican opposition in November.

Each of the three incumbent Gates County Board of Education members up for re-election this year faced no opposition. Doug Lilley led that trio as he tallied 1,621 votes. Leslie Byrum (1,563 votes) and Glendale Boone (1,437 votes) will also return to their seats on the school board.

There were a total of 72 write-in votes for the Board of Education.

Nearly one-fourth (23.81%) of Gates County’s 8,094 registered voters took part in Tuesday’s Primary Election. All totaled, 1,927 ballots were cast.