The race is on!

Published 4:08 pm Monday, March 5, 2018

The final three days set aside for candidates to file for the May Primary resulted in a record number of individuals seeking political office.

Over the course of the 13-day filing period, races have developed across the Roanoke-Chowan area, highlighted by six candidates seeking to become Sheriff of Gates County and a foursome of political hopefuls wishing to fill the District 1 seat on the Hertford County Board of Commissioners, currently occupied by Johnnie Ray Farmer who earlier announced his retirement.

There are contested races for the majority of available seats in this election cycle, which includes County Commissioners, Sheriffs, Clerk of Court, and District Attorney, in addition to contests for the NC House of Representatives and North Carolina State Senate.

A county-by-county listing of candidates seeking office is as follows:


Incumbent District 5 Bertie Commissioner – and current Commission chairperson – Ernestine Byrd Bazemore filed for reelection. Bazemore, a Democrat, will have a challenger for the seat in her district, newcomer and Bertie County farmer Carl Bond.

Incumbent Bertie Sheriff John Holley, a Democrat, filed for another term. He will have a challenger in the May Primary as Adrian Lorenzo Bowen, a Windsor Democrat, is also seeking that office.

Two Democrats have filed for the District 2 (Midway/Merry Hill) seat on the Bertie County Board of Commissioners – former Sheriff Greg Atkins of Colerain, and Michael Freeman of NC 45 South, Windsor, currently a member of the county’s ABC Board. That seat is currently held by incumbent Commissioner Stewart White, who recently announced he would not seek another term.

Incumbent County Commissioner Tammy A. Lee, a Colerain Democrat, filed to retain her District 3 seat (Colerain 1 and 2 areas). She will be challenged in the Primary by fellow Democrat Corey Ballance Sr. of Aulander.

Bertie Clerk of Court Vasti F. James, a Windsor Democrat and an incumbent, also filed for reelection.


A record six candidates have filed for Sheriff: Robert Jordan, Nurnie Reid, Ray Campbell and Randy Hathaway, all Democrats, along with James Gary Ingram and Bryan Daryl Johnson, both Republicans.

Jordan is currently serving as Interim Sheriff following Hathaway’s temporary removal from office, by a judge, after Hathaway’s arrest in January on several charges. Hathaway, who was appointed in 2016 to serve out the remaining term of now retired Sheriff Ed Webb, is scheduled to have a hearing conducted in April regarding his suspension.

Meanwhile, Campbell is a current member of the Gates County Sheriff’s Office.

Two the three Democratic incumbents on the Gates County Board of Commissioners have filed for reelection: Ray Freeman (Gates District), and Jack Owens (Gatesville District). Each will have opposition in the May Primary: Moe Brooks and Curtis Wilkins, respectively.

Incumbent Commissioner Billy Felton, a Democrat representing the Eure District, chose not to seek reelection. Filing for that seat are Jonathan Jones, a Democrat, and C.W. Ward, a Republican.

Carol Whitt (Gatesville District) and Rebecca Crawford Parks (Gates District) have filed as GOP candidates for the Gates County Board of Commissioners.

Two Democrats have filed for Gates County’s Clerk of Court – incumbent Nell Wiggins and Marsha F. Langston. Melinda Parks Dewitt, a Republican, also filed for Clerk of Court.

Filing for the Gates County Board of Education are incumbents Leslie S. Byrum and Glendale Boone. Sallie J. Ryan, a political newcomer, also filed for the school board.

Incumbent District Attorney Andrew Womble has filed for reelection for the First Judicial District, which includes Gates County.


There is a four-person race for the District 1 seat on the Hertford County Commissioners between Democrats Tim Wadsworth, Juan Vaughan Sr., Leroy Douglas, and Tammy Mizelle.

A two-man race developed this week for Sheriff of Hertford County when former HCSO Sgt. Leon Eason filed Wednesday to meet his old boss, current Sheriff Dexter Hayes, in the May Primary. Both men are Democrats.

Also filing for Sheriff is former Ahoskie Mayor Brien Lassiter. He is seeking the Sheriff’s seat as an unaffiliated candidate. That means he must first gain 610 signatures of registered voters in the county to gain unaffiliated status and have his name listed on the November General Election ballot. He has until May 8 to have those signatures on a petition and present it to the Hertford County Board of Elections.

Incumbent District 2 Hertford County Commissioner, and current board chairman, Curtis Freeman will be challenged in May by Andre M. Lassiter. Both are Democrats. Also filing for that seat this week is Donald Kirkland, a Republican.

Incumbent Hertford County Clerk of Court Shirley Johnson, a Democrat, filed and is unopposed.

Valerie Asbell, a Democratic incumbent, filed for another term as District Attorney in Judicial District 6. She will be challenged in the May Primary by Norlan Graves of Roanoke Rapids.


A couple of Northampton County races will hold a primary in May before the final candidates are decided for the November election.

All three Board of Commissioner incumbents will face challengers in May.

In District 3, incumbent Chester Deloatch will go up against newcomers Nicole Boone and Glenn Fleetwood. Deloatch and Boone are Democrats from Rich Square while Fleetwood is a Democrat from Jackson.

The winner of the District 3 primary will be listed on the November ballot against Republican challenger Dennis Babb from Potecasi.

Longtime District 4 representative and current Commission chairman Robert Carter of Pendleton will see a challenge from Joyce Buffaloe from Margarettsville. Both are Democrats. No Republicans sought the commissioner seat in that district.

Current Board of Education member Kelvin Edwards, a Democrat from Pleasant Hill, is giving up his position to instead run for District 5 commissioner. In the May primary, he will face off against incumbent Fannie Greene from Garysburg. No Republican candidates filed for that seat.

The other countywide primary will decide the office of Sheriff. Democratic incumbent Jack Smith of Gaston and Brenda Burnett of Jackson will be listed on May’s ballot. No Republican challengers submitted their names this year.

Laquitta Green Cooper, the incumbent Democrat from Jackson, will run unopposed for reelection to the position of Clerk of Superior Court.

Five candidates are seeking three open seats on the county’s Board of Education. Incumbents Lucy Edwards of Henrico and Rhonda Taylor of Potecasi have filed to run along with Catherine Moody of Garysburg, Marjorie Edwards of Rich Square, and Shanee Jacobs Smith of Rich Square.

State District

Regional filings include Clark Twiddy of Kill Devil Hills and Bob Steinburg of Edenton for NC Senate District 1, which includes Gates and Hertford counties. Both are Republicans. Two Democrats have also filed – Richard (Steve) James of Winton and D. Cole Phelps of Creswell.

Phillip Smith of Hobbsville filed as a Republican for NC House District 5 (Gates, Hertford and Pasquotank counties). That seat is currently held by Ahoskie Democrat Howard Hunter III, who also filed.

Michael H. Wray, a Gaston Democrat, filed to retain his District 27 NC House seat, as has Franklin D. Williams Jr., a Weldon Democrat. Also seeking that seat is Raymond (Ray) Dyer, a Republican from Henrico. That District covers Northampton and Halifax counties.

Windsor Democrat and current Bertie County Commissioner Ronald (Ron) Wesson has filed for the NC House District 1 seat. Two Republicans have also filed for that seat – Ed Goodwin of Edenton and Candice Hunter of Hertford.

Democrat Erica D. Smith, formerly Smith-Ingram, has filed for re-election in NC Senate District 3, which includes Northampton County. (Chuck) Earley of Washington, NC has also filed for the same state Senate seat as a Republican candidate.

U.S. House District 1 incumbent G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat, has filed for reelection. Roger W. Allison of Durham has filed for that same seat as a Republican.

The Primary Election is scheduled for May 8. Those winners (per political party) will advance to the General Election on Nov. 6.

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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