ELIZABETHTOWN — Few races with opposition, rainy weather and a non-partisan municipal election all played a role in less than 25 percent of Bladen County’s registered voters turning out Tuesday to cast a ballot.
“We just don’t see a heavy voter turnout during these kinds of elections,” said Cynthia Shaw, director of the Bladen County Board of Elections on Wednesday. “So I’d say the results were pretty typical.”
A total of 1,306 voters cast ballots Tuesday, which is 23.48 percent of the 5,563 registered voters in the county. During the early voting period, 495 voters cast ballots.
Throughout Bladen County, there were six contested races among the council and commission boards. As of Wednesday, two remained in a state of flux.
In Clarkton, the one available seat on the Board of Commissioners was being sought by incumbent Lawrence McDougald and challenger Jimmy Hudson Sr. But when the polls closed, each candidate had gathered 25 votes.
“There is one provisional vote we still need to verify,” Shaw said. “I have to check the law on this, but I think it could come down to a flip of the coin. Because it’s a non-partisan election there wouldn’t be a runoff.”
Another interesting situation exists in tar Heel, where three seats are available on the Board of Commissioners and only one candidate — incumbent Angeline Hall — filed to run. Hall received 24 votes, but there were also 38 write-in votes.
“We’re in the process of auditing the write-ins to determine what may happen,” Shaw said. “And the candidate or candidates who have been written in must accept the position. Just because they are written in doesn’t mean they have to accept.”
In other contested races:
— Elizabethtown had four individuals, including three incumbents, running for three seats on the town council. Two incumbents, Ricky Leinwand and Dicky Glenn, easily won re-election with 547 and 393 votes, respectively. But incumbent Darrell Page bnarrowly lost his seat to challenger Howell Clark by a 332-291 margin.
“We had four great candidates running, and I just wish we had four seats available,” said Mayor Sylvia Campbell. “Darrell has brought a lot of positives to the board. He’s always got a terrific attitude and he’s a good Christian man.
“I know Howell will do a wonderful job with his business experience,” she added. “I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
— Bladenboro saw five candidates, including three incumbents, looking to fill three available seats. Two of those incumbents, Patsi Callihan and Sarah Jane Benson, were successful in the re-election bids with 180 and 146 votes, respectively.
Incumbent Everett Butler, however, lost his seat to challenger Gene Norton, who led all candidates with 204 votes. Butler garnered 106 votes, while challenger Larry Hayes had 144.
In the race for an unexpired term on the board, newcomer Cris Harrelson took the seat with 157 votes, beating Don White’s total of 112.
— In Dublin, three candidates were vying for two seats on the town commission, and incumbents David Hursey and David Kirby won re-election with 39 and 37 votes, respectively. Challenger Robert Britt gathered just 19 votes.
— White Lake had three incumbents running for re-election and one challenger. Tracey Trivette and Tom Riel won another term on the Board of Commissioners with 129 and 119 votes, respectively. Challenger Tim Clifton took 123 votes to unseat incumbent Don Smith, who garnered just 68 votes.
East Arcadia had three seats open on its Board of Commissioners, and the three incumbents were all unchallenged.
Winning re-election were Rhonda Hall with 42 votes, Horace Munn with 40 votes and Carlee Carter with 37 votes.
Also in East Arcadia, Pamela Graham ran unopposed for the unexpired term, taking 43 votes.
W. Curt Vincent can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.