Power to the people

Published 10:00 am Monday, May 7, 2018

With candidates maneuvering for last-minute votes, the final countdown is on for the political future at the county and regional level.

The May 8 Primary is only four days away, set for Tuesday, May 8. Traditional polling places (voting precincts) throughout the Roanoke-Chowan area will be open that day from 6:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. The Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald will have the election results posted on its website (www.r-cnews.com) upon the completion of the vote counting process on Tuesday night.

The filing period for the Primary ended in late February, producing challenges for nearly every political seat at the county, district and regional levels. When Roanoke-Chowan area voters enter the voting booth on Tuesday, they will note choices on the ballot for county commissioner, county sheriff, district attorney, NC House of Representatives and North Carolina State Senate.

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

Bertie County

Incumbent District 5 Bertie Commissioner – and current Commission chairperson – Ernestine Byrd Bazemore will face local farmer Carl Bond. Both are Democrats.

Incumbent Bertie Sheriff John Holley, also a Democrat, is seeking another term. Adrian Lorenzo Bowen filed to challenge Holley for the position of Bertie’s top lawman. Bowen’s actual residence was challenged by a Bertie voter. The Bertie Board of Elections ruled Bowen ineligible, but he appealed that decision to the State Board of Elections. That appeal has yet to be heard. Bowen’s name remains on the ballot.

Two Democrats are seeking 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 previously announced he would not seek another term.

Incumbent County Commissioner Tammy A. Lee, a Colerain Democrat, looks 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, is seeking reelection. She is unchallenged in the Primary.

Gates County

A record six candidates are seeking the job as 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, was scheduled to have a hearing conducted in April regarding his suspension, but it was postponed until July.

Two the three Democratic incumbents on the Gates County Board of Commissioners are seeking 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. Those two will not be listed on Tuesday’s Primary ballot as both advance to November’s General Election.

Carol Whitt (Gatesville District) and Rebecca Crawford Parks (Gates District) have filed as GOP candidates for the Gates County Board of Commissioners. Their names will be on the November ballot.

Two Democrats are seeking the position of Gates County 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. None are challenged in the Primary as voters can cast their ballots for three seats on the school board.

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

Hertford 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 II, and Tammy Mizelle.

Two men are seeking the Democratic nomination for Sheriff of Hertford County – incumbent Dexter Hayes and Leon Eason, a former HCSO deputy.

Incumbent District 2 Hertford County Commissioner, and current board chairman, Curtis Freeman is challenged by Andre M. Lassiter. Both are Democrats. Also filing for that seat is Donald Kirkland, a Republican. Kirkland’s name will not be on the Primary ballot as he automatically advances to November’s General Election.

Incumbent Hertford County Clerk of Court Shirley Johnson, a Democrat, is unopposed to retain her position.

Valerie Asbell, a Democratic incumbent, is seeking another term as District Attorney in Judicial District 6. She will be challenged in the May Primary by Norlan Graves of Roanoke Rapids. District 6 is comprised of Bertie, Halifax, Hertford, and Northampton counties.

Northampton County

All three Board of Commissioner incumbents will face challengers in the Primary

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 the May 8 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.


Clark Twiddy of Kill Devil Hills will meet Bob Steinburg of Edenton in the Primary race for NC Senate District 1, which includes Gates and Hertford counties. Both are Republicans.

Two Democrats have also filed for the Senate seat – Richard (Steve) James of Winton and D. Cole Phelps of Creswell. James has been ruled ineligible due to a residency issue, but his name remains on the ballot.

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 is seeking reelection. Those two will square off in November’s General Election.

Michael H. Wray, a Gaston Democrat, is seeking to retain his District 27 NC House seat. He will face Franklin D. Williams Jr., a Weldon Democrat, in the Primary. 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 seeks the NC House District 1 seat. Two Republicans have also filed for that seat – Ed Goodwin of Edenton and Candice Hunter of Hertford. Other than Bertie, the other counties comprising House District 1 are Chowan, Perquimans, Tyrrell, and Washington.

Democrat Erica D. Smith, formerly Smith-Ingram, seeks 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. Neither will be listed on the Primary ballot. They will meet on the General Election ballot in November.

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.

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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