There will be a whopping five new mayors in Sampson County, as two contested incumbents for local mayoral offices were unseated and another three challengers won election on a crazy Tuesday night, according to unofficial results for the county’s municipal election, released just before press time.
The 2015 Municipal Election saw contested races for four mayoral posts — another mayoral challenger ran unopposed — and a number of other town board seats across the county, highlighted by a three-way race for Roseboro mayor, a former Newton Grove mayor’s attempt at a return to office and a six-way race to fill half as many seats on Salemburg’s board.
There will be five new mayors, as Joe Warren and Alice Butler will take over for longtime mayor Bobby Strickland and David Alexander, who chose not to seek re-election in Salemburg and Roseboro, respectively. Newton Grove will see former mayor Gerald Darden return to the post, while Autryville’s longtime leader Patricia Williams was unseated along with Turkey’s Tim Clifton, according to unofficial results.
All results were unofficial as of Tuesday night and there were dead-heats for some town board positions.
In Roseboro, there was a three-way race to the mayor’s office, with town commissioners Butler and Anthony Bennett vying for the spot along with Gilbert Owens. In the end, it was Butler who ran away with the race, taking 137 votes to Bennett’s 73 and Owens’ 57.
Richard Barefoot, Ray Clark Fisher and Cary T. Holland will all return to the Roseboro board, with Barefoot netting 140 votes, Fisher getting 194 votes and Holland boasting 201. Challenger Cynthia (Cyndi) Templin got 84 votes.
In Newton Grove, Darden narrowly defeated current commissioner Stephen Jackson by 65 votes to 61 for the mayoral office being vacated by Barbara Burch. Darden served as the town’s mayor for 12 years before stepping down in 2013. The terms of Burch and commissioners Laura Wheeler and Alan G. Herring are coming to a close and only Herring sought another.
Herring will return to the board and challenger Cody Smith will join him. Both ran unopposed.
In Salemburg, Warren is the town’s new mayor, netting 108 votes without competition.
The ballot for Salemburg commissioner was packed, with six people vying for three open seats, including Shirley Cooper, Donald Comer, Thomas (Tommy) Jackson, Don (Mack) Honeycutt, Johnnie C. Parker and Bobby Tew. Current commissioners Cooper and Tew will return, getting 86 votes and 75, respectively. Honeycutt is poised to join them after receiving 72 votes, but Jackson was right there with 71. Comer and Parker received 19 and 21 votes.
In Autryville, longtime mayor Patricia Williams was unseated by current commissioner Larry D. Autry 29-13, while current board members Jakie Faircloth and Carolyn L. Cashwell will retain their spots on the board with vote tallies of 32 and 22, respectively, with Dana T. Hairr edging out Richard (Ricky) Spell 21-20 for the third open seat on the board.
In Garland, four people were vying for two open town board seats.
Current commissioner Denise Toler did not win re-election while Ralph Smith cruised to his return, tallying 115 votes. Smith resigned from the town board in June only to re-join it the next month, just in time to file for re-election two days later —and now returns to the board.
Toler received 59 votes, behind challengers Larry Lee Anderson and Judy C. Smith, who were in a dead-heat for the second open board spot, each receiving 73 votes.
In Turkey, incumbent Leon (Tim) Clifton was defeated by challenger Donald (Donnie) Myers, who received 52 votes to Clifton’s 30, while Max Pope and current commissioner Mike Smith, the only two candidates for the two vacant seats on the board, were elected.
In Harrells, off-premises sale of malt beverage passed 16-13, while off-premises sale of unfortified wine similarly passed 16-14.
It was business as usual otherwise in Harrells, with current aldermen Mayor James Moore, Ray Powell and Katie Greer all poised to return to the board after no one challenged their positions.
The same is true in Clinton, where Mayor Lew Starling gained an eighth term, and City Councilman Neal Strickland (District 2) and Councilwoman Jean Turlington (District 4) extend their long tenures on the Council. Strickland, Turlington and Starling were all unopposed.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.