The Sampson County Board of Education was overhauled as a result of Tuesday’s election, with three newcomers earning spots on the board, and it was status quo for the N.C. House as longtime incumbents earned victories.
There will be three new members on the Sampson County Board of Education, and one on the Clinton City Board of Education. Just three incumbents filed to fill six open seats. The city’s two incumbents won election, all according to unofficial election results in Tuesday’s primary.
For the Clinton City Schools board, incumbents E.R. Mason and Jason C. Walters retained their seats in a race that included newcomers Michael W. Lanier and Dana L. Scott. With three terms set to expire on the Sampson County Schools board in 2016, there were five candidates vying for those open seats. Incumbent E. Sonya McLaurin Powell was joined by four challengers, including Eugene Pearsall, Timothy (Tim) G. Register, Tracy Ivey Dunn and Patrick (Pat) Usher.
When the dust cleared late Tuesday and into the morning Wednesday, Mason, Lanier and Walters were the top three vote-getters for city school board, Mason atop all of them with 35.7 percent of the vote. Lanier garnered 29.3 percent and Walters took the last spot with 22.4 percent. While in the other race, it was Dunn (29.4 percent), Register (22.2 percent) and Usher (17.9 percent) all earning places on the county school board.
Incumbent Powell and Pearsall received 16.4 percent and 13.9 percent of the vote, respectively.
Pearsall benefited greatly from early voting — Powell enjoyed similar success — and were well ahead of the pack in one-stop voting tallies, which were the first to show before precinct returns began rolling in around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. With people still standing in line to vote when polls closed at 7:30 p.m., all were give the opportunity to cast ballots so precinct returns were somewhat delayed.
Rep. Larry M. Bell easily earned a ninth term in the N.C. House of Representatives, garnering 85.5 percent of the vote in the District 21 race to challenger Scotty L. Smith’s 14.5 percent, while N.C. House District 22 Rep. William Brisson received 53,5 percent of the district’s votes in a race against Ben Snyder to earn his sixth term.
N.C. District Court Judge District 4, which includes Sampson, Duplin, Jones and Onslow counties, included two races. One race pitted current judge William (Billy) Sutton, Anita R. Powers and Paul Castle against each other for one seat, and Mario White, Nathan Sweet, Michael C. Surles and Kelly Neal against each other for another.
Sutton and White both garnered huge vote tallies in their home county of Sampson, but only Sutton will move on to November. Through the district, Sutton received 47.8 percent of the vote to Anita Powers’ 35.3 percent and Paul Castle’s 16.9 percent. White was able to garner 22 percent of the vote in the other race, but that was not enough as Sweet and Surles managed 31 percent and 29.4 percent, respectively.
White had the lead early, but was overtaken as the last half of the precincts reported.
The top two recipients of votes in the primary, for both seats, will appear on the ballot in the November general election.
A $2 billion Connect NC Public Improvement Bond that would fund capital improvements and new facilities in 76 counties, including Sampson passed easily. It had roughly a two-thirds majority across the state — 65.6 percent were for the measure — with similar approval in Sampson. The bond includes close to $4.8 million for new construction, repairs and renovations at Sampson Community College.
Other projects include new facilities and renovation of existing ones for the University of North Carolina System, the N.C. Community College System, water and sewer systems, the N.C. National Guard, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, attractions and parks and the Department of Public Safety.
In federal races, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton each took North Carolina in Tuesday’s primary. In Sampson, Trump garnered 48.1 percent of the vote to Ted Cruz’s 40 percent to earn the GOP nod. It was not as close in the Democrat race, as Clinton earned a decisive 65.7 percent of the vote to Bernie Sanders’ 26.9 percent.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.