Those citizens who just can’t wait to vote or will be too busy to do so come March 15, have the next 10 days — even on the weekend — to cast their ballots ahead of time for the primary election.
Early voting starts today (Thursday) for the March 15 Primary Election. All early voting will be held at the Sampson County Board of Elections Office and will extend for 10 straight days, including two Saturdays and one Sunday.
One-stop voting hours will be held from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 5; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 6; and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, March 12, the last day to vote early. The Board of Elections Office is located at 120 County Complex Road, Building F, Suite 110.
Any Sampson County citizen may vote early during those hours. Photo ID is required and curbside voting will be available for eligible voters. The Feb. 19 voter registration deadline for the March 15 primary has passed. That must be done at least 25 days before an election.
To find out more about voter registration and identification requirements, or to check out Sampson County sample ballots for Republican, Democrat and Libertarian parties, visit the county’s revamped website at www.sampsonnc.com, and click on Board of Elections under “departments.”
A look at the ballot
There will be new members on both the Clinton City Schools and Sampson County Schools Boards of Education, as just three incumbents have filed to fill six open seats — three on each board.
For the city school board, incumbents E.R. Mason and Jason C. Walters are seeking re-election, while newcomers Michael W. Lanier and Dana L. Scott are challenging. Board member Diane Viser chose not to seek another seat.
With three terms set to expire in 2016, the county school board has five candidates vying for those open seats.
Incumbent E. Sonya McLaurin Powell, currently in her first term, filed for re-election, but both Faye Gay and Glenn Tart announced they would not be seeking another term. Others seeking a place on the county school board are Eugene Pearsall, Timothy (Tim) G. Register, Tracy Ivey Dunn and Patrick (Pat) Usher.
The school boards will not be the only ones to welcome new members.
The District 2 Sampson County Board of Commissioners seat, currently held by board chairman Billy Lockamy, will be vacated by Lockamy at the end of the year. Lockamy has thrown his support behind Republican Jerol Kivett, with no else filing for the March 15 primary.
Commissioner Harry Parker, the Democrat who serves as District 4 representative, is seeking re-election. No one filed in opposition.
Rep. Larry M. Bell, who is seeking his ninth term serving N.C. House of Representatives District 21, will have competition, as he will be facing off against Scotty L. Smith in the March 15 primary. N.C. House District 22 Rep. William Brisson has filed for re-election to his sixth term, with Ben Snyder opposing him.
Sampson County Register of Deeds Eleanor Bradshaw has filed for re-election, with no opposition, as has Sen. Brent Jackson for the State Senate, with no one else filing for the seat.
N.C. District Court Judge District 4 races include William (Billy) Sutton, Anita R. Powers and Paul Castle vying for one seat, and Mario White, Nathan Sweet, Michael C. Surles and Kelly Neal vying for another. The Fourth Judicial District encompasses Sampson, Duplin, Jones and Onslow counties.
Sampson’s Sutton has served as a District Court judge since 2015, when he was appointed to fill the vacancy left by the retirement of Leonard W. Thagard. In his bid for election, he will be facing Powers of Duplin and Castle of Onslow. Sampson’s White is seeking election to the District 4 seat currently held by Judge Louis F. Foy, Jr. of Jones County. Foy is not seeking re-election. Neal, Surles and Sweet are all from Onslow.
The top two recipients of votes in the primary, for both seats, will appear on the ballot in the November general election.
Also on the ballot is a massive $2 billion Connect NC Public Improvement Bond. Constituting general obligation bonds of the state, the issue would fund capital improvements and new facilities in 76 counties, including Sampson.
Those projects include the construction and furnishing of new facilities and the renovation and rehabilitation of existing facilities 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.
The bond includes close to $4.8 million for new construction, repairs and renovations at Sampson Community College. For more on Connect NC, visit www.connect.nc.gov.
For questions about early voting, call the Sampson Board of Elections at 910-592-5796.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.