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2021 MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

Polls open for early voting

Posted on October 14, 2021

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Wilson County elections officials work across from vacant voting booths Thursday morning. Early voting for races in six towns started at 8 a.m. Thursday in the county Board of Elections' 112 Douglas St. administrative office in downtown Wilson.

Brie Handgraaf | Times

Wilson County elections officials work across from vacant voting booths Thursday morning. Early voting for races in six towns started at 8 a.m. Thursday in the county Board of Elections' 112 Douglas St. administrative office in downtown Wilson.

bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7821

Early voting for commissioners in six Wilson County towns began Thursday morning, but election officials say initial turnout is minimal.

Wilson County Board of Elections Director Rená Morris said there are 3,392 eligible voters for the Nov. 2 election, with 35 candidates vying for 25 seats. City of Wilson races were postponed until the spring due to redistricting.

Only 1,867 ballots were cast in 2011 municipal contests, so officials set up two voting booths in the Board of Elections’ administrative office rather than in the multipurpose room next door where early voting normally is held. Morris said each of the six towns on the 2011 ballot averaged just 311 votes, with many residents choosing to vote on Election Day.

Three Lucama residents showed up to vote shortly after the polls opened, and three Elm City voters cast a ballot about an hour later. Morris said she anticipates days during the 13-day early voting period where no one shows up.

“It is important for residents in these towns to get out and vote, because these municipal representatives make decisions that directly impact your day-to-day life,” Morris said.

While mayors in Black Creek and Saratoga as well as commissioners in Saratoga and Sims are running unopposed, races in other towns are hotly contested.

ELM CITY

Mayor pro tem Tawanda A. Moore is challenging incumbent Mayor Grady N. Smith, and eight candidates are vying for five Board of Commissioners seats.

Incumbents Dale Childress, Melvin Cooke, Cornell Mercer and Gil Wheeler all are running for reelection. They face four challengers: Tammie R. Atkinson, Tim Bridgers, David Greene and Amelia Rivera-Speight.

Atkinson, Bridgers and Greene are part of a new advocacy group, the Elm City Forward Coalition, that formed in 2021 to advance the town’s interests and to offer leadership alternatives for Elm City residents.

LUCAMA

In the southern Wilson County town of Lucama, six candidates have filed to seek three Board of Commissioners seats.

Incumbents David Johnson and Michael Best — who was appointed in February 2020 after Commissioner Brenda Blalock resigned — are seeking to keep their posts. Commissioner Patricia Uzzell, who isn’t running for reelection, currently occupies the third seat up for grabs.

Challengers Sonya Bullock, Keely Pate, Helen Torres and Yvonne Taylor Williams will face off against the incumbents.

Lucama’s town board has faced public protests and critical questions over allegations of racism, discrimination and inequality in utility billing. Commissioner David Johnson and the town itself are defendants in an ongoing federal lawsuit stemming from complaints filed in January 2020 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The Wilson County Board of Elections moved Lucama’s polling place from the Crossroads Volunteer Fire Department to Lucama Elementary School after Uzzell and other residents claimed voter intimidation at the firehouse. Johnson serves as the Crossroads fire chief, and his son, Mayor Jeff Johnson, is assistant chief.

OTHER CONTESTED RACES

In Black Creek, challenger Candy Minshew faces five incumbents — Ellen Edmundson Dawson, Roland Godwin, Roland W. Lucas, Larry W. Price and Lisa Skinner — for a chance to represent Black Creek as one of five commissioners.

In Stantonsburg, challengers H. Powell Dew Jr. and Steve Mooring are opposing Commissioners Donnie Bass, Jackie Grice and Ben Harper, who are campaigning to retain the three seats.

Candidates for Black Creek mayor, Saratoga mayor and the Sims and Stantonsburg boards of commissioners are running unopposed.

EARLY VOTING

Town residents can cast their ballots early from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays through Oct. 29 and from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30, at the Wilson County Board of Elections office at 112 Douglas St. in downtown Wilson.

Reporter Drew C. Wilson contributed to this story.

CORRECTION, 11:29 a.m. Oct. 14 — A previous version of this story misstated the number of seats on the Elm City Board of Commissioners ballot. The story has been corrected above, and the Times regrets the error. 

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