Hertford race is razor close

Published 12:11 pm Thursday, March 17, 2016

It came down to one precinct.

With 12 of Hertford County’s 13 voting precincts reporting from Tuesday’s Primary Election, incumbent District 2 Commissioner Ronald Gatling held a slim three-vote lead over political newcomer Scott Outlaw, and a 84-vote advantage over another newcomer, Darren L. Smallwood Sr.

Around 8:45 pm, the final precinct – Ahoskie 3 – reported its results. There, Gatling used 68 votes to give him enough breathing room to capture the Democratic nomination and move to November’s General Election where he will face no announced challenger.

Unofficially, the final countywide tally was razor close: 1,400 votes (31.77%) for Gatling; 1,360 votes (30.86%) for Smallwood; and 1,341 votes (30.43%) for Outlaw.

Maurice Vann, who had dropped out of the District 2 Commissioner’s race after the ballots were printed, received 306 votes.

In another Commissioner’s race (District 1), the unofficial results show former School Board member John Horton unseating incumbent F. Garry Lewter. Horton was named on 1,823 ballots (41.9%) compared to Lewter’s 1,340 votes (30.8%). Lewter, who was appointed to the District 1 seat in January of 2015 to fill the unexpired term of current NC House District 5 Representative Howard Hunter III, was seeking the voting public’s support for the first time.

Political newcomer R. Craig Castello Jr. rounded out the three-man District 1 race with 1,188 votes (27.3%).

In District 2, Smallwood actually carried the Ahoskie 3 precinct (112 votes), propelling him to his second place showing. Outlaw was named on just 12 ballots in Ahoskie 3.

However, the unofficial results show Outlaw carrying the majority of the county’s precincts: Ahoskie 1 (213 votes), Ahoskie 2 (186), Como (46), Harrellsville (75), Millennium (82), Union (82), and Winton (69). He and Gatling tied in Murfreesboro 1 with 130 votes each.

Other than the Murfreesboro 1 stalemate, Gatling was the leading vote-getter in three other precincts: Cofield (57), Murfreesboro 2 (122), and St. John (72).

In addition to his leading number of votes in Ahoskie 3, Smallwood carried just one other precinct: Bryant Town (41).

Smallwood also led the One-Stop and Absentee by Mail voting methods with 561 total votes. Gatling gained 524 votes by those processes while Outlaw tallied 315 votes.

In the District 1 race, Horton won six of the county’s 13 precincts: Bryant Town (53 votes), Murfreesboro 1 (157), Murfreesboro 2 (115), St. John (95), Union (75), and Winton (81). He also faired well in Ahoskie 1 (159 votes), Ahoskie 2 (102), and Cofield (50).

Lewter carried two precincts: Ahoskie 3 (104 votes), and Cofield (61).

Despite his third place finish, Castello made a big splash in his first-ever election as he was the top vote-getter in five precincts: Ahoskie 1 (165 votes), Ahoskie 2 (153), Como (47), Harrellsville (67), and Millennium (59).

Horton’s victorious effort was also bolstered by huge numbers in One-Stop and Absentee by Mail voting where he was named on 745 ballots. Lewter received 484 votes by that type of balloting while Castello received 281 votes.

All voting tabulations from Tuesday’s Primary are unofficial until the Hertford County Board of Elections conducts its canvass of all precincts next week.

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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