Incumbents challenged in Bertie County

Published 12:21 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2017

WINDSOR – At the close of the 2017 Municipal Elections filing period in Bertie County, the list of candidates on the November 7 ballot shows a mix of newcomers in some races while several incumbents went unchallenged in others.

In Powellsville, deposed former mayor Thomas Asbell will not seek another term; instead, current mayor pro-tem James Peele has formally filed for the mayor’s seat, and will run in November unopposed.

Peele’s decision leaves a chance for a newcomer to be elected to the three-person town board.  Current incumbent Commissioners James T. (J.T.) Watford and Carlyle Hoggard have filed to run again, and will be joined on the ballot by newcomers Hattie Askew and Gerald Waters vying for the third commissioner’s seat.

In 2015, nine candidates filed for Roxobel town commissioner in 2015; two years later that list is shorter, but only by four names. Also, for a second consecutive municipal election, voters in that western Bertie hamlet will see incumbent mayor Alvin Lee Simmons challenged for the mayor’s job again by Gary Johnson, who held the mayor’s seat in 2013 before Simmons defeated him for the top spot two years later.

Three town commissioner seats are up for grabs in Colerain, yet only two candidates have filed: incumbents Bill Harrell and Duncan Hughes.  Robert Kaylor, who holds the third seat on the board, had not filed by the 12 noon Friday deadline so it’s unclear if there will be a third name on the ballot.

Two municipalities have opted not to make change, at least according to those who filed for office.

In Askewville, Gloria Bryant will seek another two-year term as the town’s mayor, while the only candidates to file for the three seats in the commissioner’s race are the incumbents: Mike Baker, Kay Bradley, and Carla Pesce.

The same holds for the town of Kelford, where Bailey Parker is the only name once more on the ballot for mayor.  Five seats are available for the town board of commissioners, but the only quintet to file was the current office-holders: James Bland, Jr., Harvey Wayne Bland, John T. Eaton, Tim Emory, and Jim Harrell.

There is no mayor’s race in Aulander, but four candidates have filed for a seat on the town board with only three seats available.  In addition to incumbents Ron Poppell, Phillip Thomas, and Jason Tinkham, there will be a newcomer in the race in Gerald (Jerry) Welch.

In Lewiston-Woodville, Mayor Dayle Vaughan – who ran unopposed in 2013 – will face a challenge from current at-large town councilman James Earl Pugh.  Pugh’s commissioner’s seat is not up for election in 2017, but the other two seats are. However, neither incumbent: Lewiston district councilwoman Dianne Bazemore, nor Woodville councilperson, June Jernigan, will face a challenger on the ballot.

Finally, Windsor mayor Jim Hoggard will face no ballot opposition in his bid for a third term; but a third challenger has emerged in the race for the two available town council seats. Current Bertie High School teacher, former coach, and current athletic director Randy Whitaker has thrown his baseball cap into the ring as a first-time office-seeker against incumbents David Overton and Jon Powell.

Meanwhile, Randy Walston and Jason (Heavy) White have filed for the unexpired term of the late mayor-pro tem and longtime commissioner Bobby Brown, who passed away last March while still in office.  Amy Williford was appointed to the seat, but opted not to run to fill the unexpired term. The November winner between Walston and White will serve out the final two years of Brown’s original four-year term.