Occena, Dudley claim victory
WINDSOR – Two newcomers won election to the Bertie County Board of Education Tuesday.
Retired educator Bob I. Occena unseated one-term incumbent Pamela Chamblee in the race for the District 1 seat on the board while Tarsha Bush Dudley edged Arthur “Artie” Johnson in the race for the open seat in District 5.
Occena won 11-of-12 precincts and claimed the One-Stop voting edge to unseat Chamblee. All total, Occena received 5,318 votes compared to 2,888 for Chamblee.
Occena said he was excited about working with the rest of the school board to develop a cohesive plan to move forward.
“The board needs to be unified and to look at some kind of plan,” he said. “The last two superintendents, there was no plan that they followed. They were reactionary to situations and that is not good. We have to develop a plan for Bertie County Schools.”
Occena called his support from voters “amazing” and said he was pleased with the campaign and the opportunity to meet new voters.
He served 42 years with the school district as a teacher, assistant principal, principal and coordinator. He was principal of three different Bertie County Schools.
The One-Stop voting gave Occena an early edge and Chamblee never was able to close the gap. Occena won 2,506 votes during One-Stop while Chamblee took 1,211. He also garnered 644 absentee ballots while Chamblee had 627.
Occena then took 11 of the 12 precincts. The biggest victories for him came in Windsor I (472-132), Windsor II (206-35), Whites (205-80) and Snakebite (108-68). He also claimed wins in Colerain I (140-67), Mitchells I (131-70), Mitchells II (212-110), Roxobel (274-143), Woodville (154-116), Merry Hill (121-68), Indian Woods (58-48).
Chamblee won the Colerain II Township by a count of 123-87.
In District 5, two candidates were vying to replace retiring school board chair Gloria C. Lee. Dudley carried seven of the 12 precincts, One-Stop voting and absentee balloting in her victory.
Dudley said she was pleased with the results.
“I am overwhelmed and overjoyed with emotion with the support I have received from the people of Bertie County,” she said. “I hope to serve them well. I will do everything in my power to serve them to the best of my ability.
“We want to move the county forward and provide the best education for the children,” she said. “The children are the most important thing.”
Dudley said she was pleased with the work of Interim Superintendent of Schools Elaine White and was looking forward to working with her fellow board members.
One-Stop voting was key for Dudley as she earned 2,687 ballots to 1,086 for Johnson. She also won the absentee balloting by mail 809-454.
Some of the key victories in precincts came in Roxobel where she won 322-81 and Windsor I where she claimed a 406-180 win. Dudley also won Mitchells II (192-118), Colerain II (149-63), Woodville (240-29), Snakebite (152-31) and Indian Woods (89-16).
Johnson earned victory in five precincts. His largest support came from Windsor II, where he won 228-29. He also won in Merry Hill (104-82), Whites (141-134), Colerain I (120-81) and Mitchells I (109-100).