Noah Woods, if he is to win a seventh term as the District 4 representative on the county Board of Commissioners, will have to survive a canvass of about 80 provisional ballots on Tuesday.
Woods currently has a nine-vote margin over challenger Faline Locklear Dial. His margin had been 10 after the Tuesday primary, but he picked up an additional vote when a mistake was discovered in Red Springs and then Dial picked up two absentee votes on Friday.
Voters are allowed to cast provisional ballots when questions arise on Election Day about their eligibility, questions that are answered during the canvass when the decision is made whether or not individual ballots are valid.
Woods’ re-election was jeapordized because, as the longest serving member of the board, he bears the most responsibility in the commissioners’ stealthy efforts to continue to bump their pay and benefits.
If Woods survives, he can thank Red Springs, where he won by almost a 2-to-1 margin. Prospect, the largest precinct in the district, favored Dial.
Hubert Sealey, who has served 12 years on the board, was also punished by voters. It appears likely that Sealey will ask for a runoff against former Commissioner Berlester Campbell, so Tuesday’s result could change.
Sealey joined the board in 202 when he barely defeated Campbell.
This newspaper has tried to put together a time-line on the commissioners’ pay and benefits, but information is hard to find. It appears that things began to change in 1996 and then just climbed steadily from there, pretty much unabated until the public became aware in the summer of 2012.
Campbell, although he was on the board for some of that time, appears to have benefited from his pledge to donate the $700 monthly stipend to a nonprofit in District 2.
Mickey Meekins, the winner of the Democratic primary in District 6, made a similar pledge, saying he would return his “salary” to education and youth sports initiatives in that district. He will face Republican David Edge in the November General Election. Of all the sitting commissioners, Edge is the least culpable for their excessive pay and benefits, having joined the board in 2010.
Also of interest in the election:
— Sheriff Kenneth Sealey’s primary win wasn’t a surprise, but the margin over Lennis Watts, who certainly has ample law enforcement credentials, was notable. Sealey defeated Watts in 2010 with just more than 54 percent of the vote, but this time he garnered about 64 percent of the vote.
Sealey will now face Randy Hammonds, a Republican who worked with the Highway Patrol for 30 years, in the General Election.
The sheriff’s race is a good place to measure voter turnout, which can get a cloudy because Republicans on Tuesday had almost no reason to go to the polls. There were about 2,000 fewer votes in last week’s primary than in 2010, which is the best comparison because there was no presidential or governor’s race that year.
— Severeo Kerns, a three-term member of the Board of Education for the Public Schools of Robeson County, lost his District 3 race to Peggy Wilkins Chavis, who won convincingly. Kerns was outspoken during the effort to give Superintendent Johnny Hunt a $25,000 bonus, and paid for it Tuesday.
— In the race for clerk of Superior Court, Shelena Smith garnered enough votes to win her first election and dodge a runoff in the three-person race. Voters were obviously satisfied with Smith, whose credentials to serve in the position can’t be disputed.
— Jane Smith, a political newcomer with a strong resume, was impressive in the quest to take the District 23 Senate seat being surrendered by Michael Walters. She garners 47 percent of the vote in a four-person race, and will be favored over Republican Bernard White in November.
— As far as primaries go, last week’s was a bit of a yawner, except for the Board of Commissioners, where the closeness of Woods’ race surprised some folks. We will learn Tuesday if the surprise gets bigger.