After 24 years, there’s a new sheriff in Guilford County.
Danny Rogers unseated six-term Republican incumbent BJ Barnes, who was first elected in 1994. Rogers becomes the first black sheriff of the county.
“You got a chance to get to know who I am, where I come from, and to see sincereness of my heart and what we can do with Guilford County,” said Rogers during his victory speech at the Terrace at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex. Surrounded by other Democrat candidates and over the cheers from the crowd, Rogers acknowledged Barnes in his speech.
“I want to give him the recognition for the things that he’s done here in the last several years in Guilford County,” Rogers said. “But we’re gonna take it from here, and we’re gonna bring a positive change to Guilford County.”
Someone yelled from the crowd, “There’s a new sheriff in town.”
In a Facebook post shared just past midnight, Barnes wrote, “Guilford County, thank you for your support, it appears we did not make it, but I want to thank each of you who voted for me. I’m just sorry you have to live with what you are left with. If he has any sense he will listen to the best officers in law enforcement, but I’m afraid history shows that probably will not be the case. Thanks again for the honor of serving you these 24 years.”
Just 23 miles west, another upset was taking place in the Forsyth County sheriff’s race. By 9 p.m., Jeff Marshall, candidate Bobby Kimbrough’s data manager, felt confident calling the race in Kimbrough’s favor over Republican incumbent Bill Schatzman, who has held the seat since 2002.
“Currently, Bobby has a 15,000 vote lead and according to our projections only 140,000 ballots were cast,” Marshall said at Kimbrough’s election night watch party at the Carolina Ale House next to Hanes Mall. “Schatzman would have to win 81% of the ballots left to win.”
Less than half an hour later, Kimbrough began taking pictures with his campaign manager and staff to kick off celebrations. Both Kimbrough and Rogers are the first black sheriffs to be elected in Guilford and Forsyth county.
Cindy Hagie Fraser, Kimbrough’s campaign manager said that she knew as soon as she met Kimbrough that he could win the seat.
“I’ve voted for Schatzman in the past but his refusal to do anything about the opioid epidemic made it clear that we needed a new sheriff,” Fraser said.
Claudia Marini, who sat next to Garland Apperson at a table during the watch party, said she supported Kimbrough precisely because of his background as a former Drug Enforcement Administration agent.
“I lost my daughter to an overdose in 2016,” Marini said. “The drugs were bought in Forsyth County and it needs a change. [Schatzman] isn’t doing anything about the drugs.”
Apperson, who worked under Schatzman in the sheriff’s department for 11 years, said that he’s excited to see him get voted out.
“He got rid of our narcotics unit, sold our boat and motorcycles and took deputies out of our schools,” Apperson said. “I just want Schatzman out.”
In Forsyth County’s board of education race, both Democrat and Republican women won seats.
All three Democrat women who were running for at-large seats against three Republican male candidates — Deanna Kaplan, Elisabeth Motsinger and Andrea Pace Bramer — won, while Republicans Lida Calvert Hayes, Leah H. Crowley, Lori Goins Clark and Dana Caudill Jones won all four seats in District 2.
In Guilford’s board of education at-large race, incumbent Democrat Winston McGregor won handily against opponent Marc Ridgill to remain in the seat vacated by Democrat Alan Duncan, who was appointed to the State Board of Education by Gov. Roy Cooper in June.
Democrat incumbent Ted Kaplan also won a breezy race for the at-large seat on the Forsyth County board of commissioners against Republican Buddy Collins and Green Party candidate Keenen Altic.
In Guilford County, incumbent county commissioner Justin Conrad eked out a close win against Democrat Tracy Lamothe by just 288 votes. The Libby Hill Seafood restauranteur has served in the seat since 2014, when he ran unopposed. After winning again in 2016, he was elected vice chair of the county commission in 2017.
“It was a very, very close race and luckily I ended up coming out on top,” Conrad said. “I appreciate the support from everyone who came out and voted and look forward to serving another four years.”
Several of the Guilford County board of education races were also close with Republicans Anita Sharpe and Linda Welborn winning seats in District 2 and 4 respectively. In District 6, Khem Denise Irby, who ran for the seat in 2016, won by a narrow one point-margin against incumbent Republican Wes Cashwell.
“It’s just an honor,” Irby said after the results came in just before 12:30 am. “It’s gonna be a great honor to serve the families and the children and I plan to represent them well.”
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