Decision Time

Published 5:24 pm Sunday, May 4, 2014

The campaigning is nearly over; the final political forums have been held….all that’s left is for the voters to decide.

Tuesday, May 6 is Primary Day across the state of North Carolina. For Roanoke-Chowan area voters, they will decide which local, District and statewide candidates will advance to November’s General Election.

Polling places in the area will be open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald will bring you the results from the local counties later Tuesday night at

The following is a county-by-county breakdown of the local government races in Bertie, Hertford and Northampton.

Bertie County

Two of the three incumbent Bertie County Commissioners have challengers for their seats. In District 3, Democratic incumbent J. Wallace Perry will see a challenge from Tammy Lee of Colerain.  In District 5, sitting Commission vice-chair Charles Smith will square off against Aulander resident Ernestine Bazemore.

Rick Harrell, the third Bertie Commission incumbent up for reelection this year, did file back in February to seek another four-year term. However, Harrell withdrew his candidacy in April, leaving the race to a pair of political newcomers – John Hunter Davis and James Martin Clemons, both of Merry Hill.

Another race that has attracted attention in Bertie will be for the office of Clerk of Superior Court.  Vasti James, who was appointed to succeed the retiring John Tyler as of the first of this year, will be seeking her first full term in office.  She will be opposed by current magistrate Arthur J. Watford, Jr.

John Holley will be seeking his second term as Sheriff and he will be running unopposed in May.

Bertie voters will also decide the fate of the proposed addition of a quarter-cent local option sales tax. If that referendum is approved, consumers purchasing items at Bertie businesses will pay a seven percent sales tax (up from the current 6.75 percent rate). Hertford County approved a similar local option sales tax several years ago.

Hertford County

The ballot in the area’s most populated county is nearly void of candidates seeking local government seats. Incumbent County Commissioners Johnnie Ray Farmer and Curtis Freeman are unopposed in the Democratic Primary in Districts 1 and 2. Freeman will face a GOP challenger in the November in the form of Daniel Smith, running unopposed as a Republican.

Two additional Hertford County incumbents have no opposition: Juan Vaughan for Sheriff and Shirley Johnson for Clerk of Superior Court.

Northampton County

Voters here will note choices for local government seats on their ballot as well as making a decision on whether or not to allow liquor by the drink.

The key race in Northampton is for Sheriff. There, incumbent Jack Earl Smith is seeking his first full term since being appointed last year to fill the unexpired term of the retired Wardie Vincent. Smith faces retired Northampton Sheriff’s Captain Brenda Burnette. Both candidates are Democrats.

Democrats Chester Deloatch and Robert Carter in County Commissioner Districts 3 and 4, respectively, are unopposed in the May Primary. Fannie Greene, another incumbent up for reelection, faces Primary opposition from Jason Moore.

Laquita Green Cooper is unchallenged for Clerk of Superior Court.

Seven names are on the Northampton Board of Education ballot with four seats up for grabs.  Current BOE vice-chairman Kelvin Edwards is looking to remain on the board with Rhonda Taylor the other incumbent seeking to return. The other five who have filed are Lucy Edwards, Richie Harding, Becky Turner, Julius Webb and Keedra Whitaker.

In the referendum, Northampton citizens will be asked to vote for or against a measure that permits the sale of mixed beverages in hotels, restaurants, private clubs, community theatres, and convention centers.

Regional Races

Roanoke-Chowan area voters will also choose from candidates seeking to become District Attorney, State House Representative and State Senator.

The Sixth Judicial District’s District Attorney’s race has both sitting DA’s, Melissa Pelfrey and Valerie Asbell, as candidates, but only one will be holding office later this year. The NC General Assembly opted to combine Pelfrey’s District 6A (Halifax County) with Asbell’s District 6B (Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties) into a single District.

In NC House District 5 (Bertie, Hertford, Gates and a portion of Pasquotank), current Hertford County Commissioner Howard Hunter III is seeking to capture the seat formerly held by his late father, Howard Hunter, Jr.  Annie Mobley is the current incumbent seeking re-election to this seat. The winner between those two Democrats will move to November to face Gatesville Republican candidate Sidney Pierce III, who is unopposed in the May Primary.

In State House District 27, incumbent Michael Wray of Gaston will have an opponent in the Democratic primary in the form of Weldon’s Franklin D. Williams.

N.C. State Senate District 3 where A trio of Democrats will battle it out for the right to represent N.C. State Senate District 3, which includes Bertie, Hertford and Northampton counties. In that race, incumbent Clark Jenkins of Tarboro faces opposition from Erica Smith-Ingram of Gaston and Windsor’s Alan Mizelle.

State Races

In statewide races, four state Supreme Court seats are up for election: three associate judges and Chief Justice. Jeanette Doran and Eric Levinson are challenging sitting judge Robin Hudson for Hudson’s associate’s seat; Cheri Beasley will face a challenge in Mike Robinson for Beasley’s associate’s seat.

Associate Supreme Court Justice Mark Martin is being challenged by Ola Lewis from Brunswick County for the Chief Justice’s chair being vacated by the retiring Chief Sarah Parker.  Martin’s associate’s seat has two names on the ballot: challengers Bob Hunter and Sam Ervin IV, both of whom currently serve on the state Court of Appeals.

On the 15-member state Court of Appeals: Donna Stroud is seeking to remain, and has no opposition for her seat.  Mark Davis is being challenged for his seat by Paul Holcombe and in the seat Bob Hunter is giving up to run for Supreme Court, Bill Southern will oppose Lucy Inman.

National Races

First-term US  Senator Kay Hagan has two challengers within her own Democratic party in Will Stewart from Hampstead and Greenville’s Ernest T. Reeves.

On the GOP side it’s a crowded U.S. Senate field with Jim Snyder, Ed Kryn, Mark Harris, Heather Grant, Greg Brannon, Alex Bradshaw, Thom Tillis, and Ted Alexander looking to oppose the Democratic nominee for this seat.

Two Libertarian U.S. Senate candidates have also emerged: Tim D’Annunzio and Sean Haugh.

In the US House of Representatives, three-term Wilson Democrat G.K. Butterfield has a primary challenger in Dan Whittacre of Henderson. The winner here will face one of two Republican candidates in the November General Election: Brent Shypulefski or Arthur Rich.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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