After a canvas of votes by the Bladen County Board of Elections on Tuesday, the final results show that election winners have not changed from the original tally, BOE Director Larry Hammond said Tuesday.
Elizabethtown and East Arcadia will be welcoming new mayors, with Sylvia Campbell taking the unopposed slot replacing Kenneth Kornegay, who chose not to run for another term. Perry Blanks beat out incumbent Willie Dixon, who has served for many years as mayor of East Arcadia.
In Campbell’s case, she is still a seated council member on the Elizabethtown Town Board. She must resign her seat before she takes the oath to become mayor, which will leave a vacancy on the board. The other board members will then appoint another person to finish the remaining two years of her term.
Returning to the board for Elizabethtown will be incumbents Scott Ussery and Russell Priest, with Dicky Glenn taking over the other vacancy for a new term.
In White Lake, Mayor Goldston Womble Jr., will return for another term. Originally running unopposed, White Lake Town Commissioner Larry Barnhart received 89 write-in votes against Womble’s 254 votes. The board of elections officials were faced with several challenges during the course of voting.
A challenge, Hammond said, is the right of any registered voter who believes another registered voter may not be qualified to vote in a jurisdiction - in this case, the municipality.
There were five challenges last Tuesday during the elections - four of which were upheld by the precinct officials. Those names will be removed, since they were determined to not be qualified to vote in Bladen County.
“Matters of residency were the focal point of the issue,” Hammond said Tuesday. “All of the voters who were challenged, with the exception of one, were not qualified under North Carolina law.”
Of those who voted at the one-stop site at the Bladen County Library during early voting, eight were challenged. All eight were upheld as well, and their names were removed from the voter registration rolls.
“The law says people must be domiciled in the jurisdiction where they are registered to vote,” Hammond said. “As election officials, we understand people have issues.”
The problem falls, however, when a person attempts to vote in a jurisdiction where they do not reside, which is a violation of the laws that are followed. Those votes will not be counted in the outcome.
“The election process will not be used as a place to voice issues,” Hammond said. “We will check on every challenge.”
In the commissioners race for the town, incumbents Tom Riel and Don Smith were reelected, and will be joined by newcomer Tracey Scott Trivette for a four-year term. James R. Melvin will serve a two-year term on the board.
In other jurisdictions, with a town council race in both Bladenboro wards, all of the incumbents are returning for another term. David Hales and Bud Freeman will hold their positions against Rufus “Duck” Duckworth for Ward 1, and Ezra Blanks was reelected in Ward 2 against James Kinlaw.
The East Arcadia commissioners race will have Harold Hackstall returning for another term, joined by John E. Kirk and Rhonda Blanks Hall.
Equally important are races in other towns where there was no opposition.
Mayor Arthur Whedbee and Commissioner Maurice Rivenbark will return to the board in Clarkton. Mayor Horace Wyatt and Commissioners T. David Hursey III and David Kirby will serve the town of Dublin for another term. Tar Heel will also keep the current board, with Mayor Angela Allen and Commissioners Pansy Gooden Druzak, Paulette Tanner and Mike Underwood returning.
“I felt the election went smoothly with no machine problems,” Hammond said. “The state requires sample audits and they were all flawless.
“I want to especially say thank you to those folks who, year after year, work the polls so we can express our right of freedom by voting,” he added. “These folks face every agenda, every oddity, every personal issue that people bring to the polls, and they deal with them professionally, courteously and thoroughly.”
The winners will be sworn in at the December meeting of each municipality.