LUMBERTON — County Commissioner Tom Taylor on Tuesday easily won re-election to the District 7 seat he has held since 2000, beating back a challenge by a Republican seeking to give his party a second seat on the nine-member board.
With a total of 5,501 votes cast, Taylor received 3,773 votes, or 68.59 percent of the ballots cast, to Dennis Harrell’s 1,728, 31.41 percent of the total votes cast. Harrell, a preacher, was seeking his first elected office.
“I appreciate that the people have confidence in me and have given me another four years on the board,” said Taylor, who will be sworn in during December to a fourth term. “I try to help them all (county residents). My first priority is the citizens, and my second priority is our county employees.”
Harrell said Tuesday night that he knew from the beginning of his candidacy that it would be an uphill fight to unseat Taylor.
“I knew it would be difficult, but I felt the people needed to have someone they could elect if they wanted change,” he said. “Apparently they are satisfied.”
Taylor campaigned on his record as a commissioner, emphasizing that during his time on the board the county tax rate has been lowered by 3 cents, from 80 cents to 77 cents per $100 of value; a “one-stop shop” at the old Department of Social Services complex on N.C. 711 has been opened for residents needing to obtain certain construction, land-use and health-related permits; the county purchased the former BB&T building in Lumberton to be used to house county departments in a single location; and a new county DSS building was built.
Harrell had called for the county to eliminate wasteful spending, including reducing the commissioners’ pay, benefits and their discretionary funds, saying that should be done to “assure transparency and accountability.”
Commissioners Jerry Stephens, District 1, Raymond Cummings, District 5, and Roger Oxendine, District 3, were all unopposed on Tuesday.