Incumbents raked in huge percentages of the vote in Guilford County and Greensboro races on Tuesday night in the midterm primary election. The turnout, which was about 20.4 percent of the electorate, proved to be much higher than the turnout compared to 2018, when only 11 percent of registered voters had their say. This year they seemed somewhat satisfied with the status quo.
Greensboro mayoral and city council races
Notable vote-getters included Nancy Vaughan, incumbent mayor of Greensboro, who had close to 45 percent of the vote by 11:30 p.m. with 100 percent of precincts reporting in. Vaughan has served as mayor since 2013 and has been on city council since 1997 when she was first elected to District 4. She won 93 of 108 precincts in the city, tied two and left her nearest competitor, Justin Outling, with 13.
“I am very pleased with the primary results,” Vaughan texted to TCB on Tuesday night. “When you look at the precinct map it shows that I have a wide and broad base of support throughout the city. I will continue to focus on the residents of Greensboro and build on our successes.”
Outling came in second place with 35.3 percent of the vote and will face Vaughan in the general election on July 26. Outling has been on Greensboro city council as the District 3 representative since 2015.
Both Democrats, Vaughan and Outling have been running a competitive campaign against one another despite being colleagues on council for the last seven years. Outling has called out Vaughan’s leadership, calling for more change particularly when it comes to handling the rise in gun violence while Vaughan has been critical of Outling’s potential conflict of interest as an attorney for Brooks Pierce, a law firm that handles many of the city’s contract negotiations.
Third and fourth place in the mayoral race went to Mark Cummings who raked in 10.2 percent and Eric Robert, who got 9.5 percent by 11:30 p.m.
As for other Greensboro city council races, Yvonne Johnson and Marikay Abuzuaiter, both incumbents, took first and second place handily in the at-large race with 25 percent and 16.4 percent of the vote, respectively. The next four candidates — the top six vote-getters move on to the general election in July — were all neck and neck with less than one percentage point between them all. Tracy Furman, who came in third with 10.2 percent, ran unsuccessfully for Guilford County Commission in 2018. At her watch party at ReAligned in downtown Greensboro, Furman said she would be happy to just come in third or fourth place. Following close behind Furman was incumbent Hugh Holston with 10 percent of the vote. Holston has held an at-large seat since September 2021 when city council unanimously chose him to fill the seat left vacant after Michelle Kennedy resigned. Fifth place went to Katie Rossabi, who has strong Republican support as one of the only registered Republicans in the at-large race. She got 9.8 percent of the vote. In sixth place was Linda Wilson, the executive director of NC A&T State University’s student health center, with 9.6 percent.
In the Greensboro city council District 1 race, incumbent Sharon Hightower took first place in a landslide against her two challengers, Felton Foushee and Timothy Kirkpatrick. Hightower, who has held the seat since 2018, raked in close to 78 percent and will face Foushee, who got 12.9 percent, in July.
In the District 2 race, incumbent Goldie Wells came in first too, but with a smaller margin than Hightower. Wells, who was appointed to council in 2017, got 42.6 percent of the vote while her second-place opponent, Cecile Crawford got 29.8 percent. Crawford will face Wells in the July general election. At a watch party in LeBauer Park downtown, Crawford said that it’s difficult running against an incumbent but that she’ll keep trying.
“Our district needs a lot of help,” she said. “It needs affordable housing and measures for safety.”
On getting enough votes to move to the general election, Crawford said, “it’s a testament to how hard our organization has worked. This was definitely an ‘us.’”
In District 3, former city council member Zack Matheny won 61.2 percent of the vote. Matheny, a registered Republican, is well-known in Greensboro for his position as the president of Downtown Greensboro Inc., a position he intends to keep if re-elected to city council. Earlier in the day at Mendenhall Middle School, Matheny said that he received good feedback from voters he talked to.
“It’s been seven years and I’ve had so many people say they’re glad to see my name back on the ballot,” he said.
Matheny was first elected to the District 3 Greensboro City Council seat in 2007, a position he held until 2015 when he left to work for Downtown Greensboro Inc. Second place went to Chip Roth, a well-known political strategist who has worked for the Obama administration. Roth got 28.3 percent of the vote and will face Matheny in the general election in July.
The tightest Greensboro city council race was the District 5 race between incumbent Democrat Tammi Thurm and political rival Republican Tony Wilkins. This time around, Thurm placed first with 45.4 percent of the vote to Wilkins’ 42.2 percent. In 2017, Wilkins was ousted by Thurm by just 10 percentage points. The two will face each other once again in the general election in July.
Guilford County races
Like with the Greensboro municipal races, the races for the Guilford County seats also favored incumbents on Tuesday.
In the Guilford County Commission at-large race, incumbent Kay Cashion who has been in the seat since 2004, beat organizer and pastor Greg Drumwright by less than 7 points. Both Democrats, Cashion represented the established status quo against Drumwright’s younger, more politically progressive candidacy that centered around issues such as systemic racism.
On the Republican side, Alan Branson became one step closer to getting back on the county commission after beating opponent Alvin Robinson with 69.7 percent of the vote, compared to Robinson’s 30.3 percent. Branson first won election to the board of county commissioners in 2012 and narrowly lost his re-election bid in 2020. Branson will face Cashion in November.
For the District 2 race, Republican incumbent Alan Perdue won with 56.1 percent of the vote against Steve Arnold who got 43.9 percent. Perdue has served on county commission since 2014 and will face Democrat Paul Meinhart — who did not have a primary opponent — in November.
In the District 3 Republican primary, Pat Tillman made his move to county commission with 41.3 percent of the vote. Former Oak Ridge town council member George McClellan came in second with 33.9 percent. Since 2016, Tillman has served on the school board in District 3 but will now face Democrat Derek Mobley in November.
In his first election, incumbent Frankie T. Jones Jr. won the Democratic primary for the District 7 county commission race with 59.8 percent of the vote. Jones was first appointed to the seat after longtime incumbent Carolyn Coleman passed away in late January. Jones will face Republican Kenny Abbe, who won with 56 percent of the vote, come November.
In the school board races, the Republican candidates backed by the conservative group Take Back Our Schools won handily in both of the Republican primaries. In District 2, Crissy Pratt won against Marc Ridgill with 54.9 percent of the vote to Ridgill’s 45.1 percent. Pratt will face Democrat Amanda Cook in November. In District 6, Republican Tim Andrew won with 63.8 percent compared to his opponent, Matthew Kuennen’s 36.2 percent. Andrew will face incumbent Democrat Khem Irby in November.
Incumbents also kept their seats in the Guilford judicial races. For clerk of superior court, Lisa Johnson-Tonkins won with 73.3 percent compared to her opponent, Lu-Ann Wilkinson who got 26.7 percent. And in the district attorney race, which was also decided on Tuesday because there are no Republicans running, incumbent Avery Crump was re-elected her seat after garnering 66.1 percent.
“I thank the citizens of Guilford County for their vote and support,” Crump texted TCB. “I will continue to work hard and serve with integrity to promote positive change for Guilford County.”
Her opponent, Brenton Boyce, got 33.9 percent and told TCB that despite the results, he was encouraged because of the higher voter turnout compared to four years ago. When asked if he would run again, he said that he might if things don’t change the way he wants them to.
“I ran because I thought there was a problem,” he said. “But maybe me running will change things.”
Lastly, in the Guilford County sheriff’s race, incumbent Danny Rogers won the Democratic primary with 57.9 percent of the vote while Republican Phil Byrd won with 40.4 percent. The two will face each other come November.
As for the bond referenda, the school bond passed easily with 60.6 percent but the sales tax that would have helped pay for the vote did not, with 55 percent of voters voting against the increase.
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