Political newcomers dominate in Bertie

Published 9:55 am Thursday, November 6, 2014

WINDSOR – Bertie County already made history with the election of two women to the county’s Board of Commissioners. Now they will make it again with two members elected as unaffiliated candidates.

Stewart White, who entered the race after the May primary as an unaffiliated candidate, outpolled John “Johnny” Davis for the District-3 seat on the board being vacated by four-term commissioner Rick Harrell, who chose not to seek re-election. Davis had won in the Democratic May Primary to advance to the November election.

White’s unofficial vote total was 3,309 compared to 3,033 for Davis.

“It was a close and clean-run campaign,” a subdued White said, speaking in the very room where he will execute his first duties of the office in a little more than 30 days. “I want to thank all my supporters and all the prayerful support I received.  I have to thank God for everything that happened.  It was a good run.”

With one precinct (Mitchell’s-2) tied with each candidate receiving an even 156 votes, White was the clear cut winner in five of the county’s one dozen voting precincts.

White carried his native Colerain-1, along with Whites, and Merry Hill.  He also took Mitchell’s-1 (Hexlena) and Windsor-2 (Askewville).  Davis carried Windsor-1, Colerain-2, Roxobel, Woodville, Snakebite, and Indian Woods, the latter by a margin of just six votes, 73-67.

“That was big to run unaffiliated in a predominately Democratic county,” White added.  “So it was a good win, a very good win.”

White will join John Trent, elected in 2012, as the other unaffiliated political party member on the Bertie County Board of Commissioners.

In other Bertie results there will be two new members of the county Board of Education following Tuesday’s results.

Incumbent Emma Johnson (2,291 votes), the current board chairman, recaptured her District-3 seat for another four-year term.  The veteran retired educator turned back a dual challenge from Bill Harrell (1,945) and Niki Ruffin (1,260).

New to the board will be Jo Davis Johnson – the night’s leading vote-getter in the Board of Ed race with 3,023 votes – who unseated incumbent Ricky Freeman (2,468).  Johnson, who will represent District-2, tallied nearly 55 percent of the vote.

“It was a good race,” Johnson said. “I hope we see a lot of change in the county after this election.”

Another Board of Ed newcomer will be former Bertie High School assistant football coach Barry McGlone, who won the night’s other three-way race by knocking off the longest sitting school board member, Alton Parker, 2,829 votes to 1,575; with 1,027 votes garnered by the third challenger, Bryan Ruffin.

“I’m very thankful to all the supporters,” a humbled McGlone began as he viewed the night’s final totals flashing on the electronic tote board. “I’m looking forward to getting started and hopefully making a difference on our board.  It’s been a long campaign and a long day, and I’m just very glad it’s over.”

In other Bertie results: District-3 County Commissioner candidate Tammy Lee, who did not face a November opponent, polled 5,268 votes.

District-5 commission candidate Ernestine (Byrd) Bazemore received 4,632 votes, unopposed in her race; while Clerk of Superior Court Vasti F. James (4,868 votes) was elected to her own four-year term following her December appointment as successor to the retired John Tyler.

Sheriff John Holley, in his first campaign, also ran unopposed and was the evening’s third-highest vote-getter with 5,196 votes.

“I’m just truly honored, that’s really all I can say,” said the sheriff; who was at first nearly speechless though later he elaborated with his gratitude.

“I owe it to the men and women who work in my office, and I still say I’ll put the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office up against any other in the state,” Holley stated.

Bertie Soil &Water Conservation Supervisor candidates James Pugh and Robert Hoggard will retain their offices.  Challenger Kent Williams finished a distant third in the running with 23.5 percent of the vote.

Finally, Bertie residents will have to wait another two years before voters make a choice on an increase in the county sales tax.  The .025 percent increase was voted down for the second time in six months: 3,358 to 2,755.