LUMBERTON — Longtime Robeson County Commissioner Noah Woods sat silent during most of Saturday’s recount of the May 6 Democratic primary votes that would determine if he would hold his District 4 seat another four years. The expression on his face was the only sign that he wasn’t quite sure that his two-vote margin going into the recount against political newcomer Faline Locklear Dial would stand.
It took six hours for all of the ballots to be counted, but in the end the result remained the same.
The news that the chairman of the board would serve a seventh terms didn’t get him talking.
“I have no comment,” Woods told a reporter for The Robesonian immediately after his victory was announced. “I have no comment.”
The final vote count was 1,060 votes for Woods and 1,058 votes for Dial. The recount showed each losing a vote. Woods had 1,061 votes going into the recount, and Dial had 1,059.
It was the first time in his political career that Woods was seriously challenged and many, including Dial, say that the closeness of the race shows that Robeson County residents are looking for new leadership and a more transparent government.
Dial said that she was “satisfied with the procedures” followed by the county’s Board of Elections as it attempted to ensure that the outcome of her race against Woods was fair and accurate.
“I feel there was no irregularities in the recount,” she said.
Dial had focused her campaign on the need for change in county leadership as well as transparency in Robeson County government. And although not the winner, Dial said the large number of votes she received is a message from voters to other elected officials.
“District 4 has spoken,” she said. “The people are ready for a change in leadership.”
Woods appeared to suffer from revelations about how the county Board of Commissioners have added to their pay and benefits through the darkness provided by the budget process, and now rank at the top of the state when the two are combined, up there with Durham County.
Steve Stone, chairman of the Robeson County Board of Elections, said that either of the candidates can file a recount protest. Protests would be forwarded to the State Board of Elections for its review and action, he said.
Dial said that she will decide shortly if there is a valid reason for her to appeal to the state board.
“I think the recount went well,” Stone said. “As the candidates and observers who are here today saw, we did the best we could with what we have to work with to deliver an accurate and fair election … . We did it as fairly, accurately and professionally as we can do.”
G.L. Pridgen, director of the Robeson County Board of Elections, agreed with Stone’s analysis of the recount.
“I’m very pleased,” he said. “It was as fair as we can possibly make it.”