Header photo: Super Tuesday 2020 at Craft Recreational Center (photo by Carolyn DeBerry)
As the dust settled on Wednesday morning, a handful of incumbents emerged to reclaim their seats in some school board and county commission races, while several newcomers won to other positions, most notably in district court judge races.
Of the four district court judge races, two will see new candidates ascend to the bench while two incumbents fought off challengers for their seats.
District court judge races
Angela Foster, who has been in Seat 7 for 12 years, fought off incumbent Michele Lee in her race, winning 55.6 percent of the vote.
Keyona Barrett, a school social worker, said on Tuesday that she voted for Foster because of her experience in the courtroom.
“I’ve been in court with her a lot,” Barrett said. “And she sat in some of my cases as a youth and as a professional, I know her inside and out of the courtroom.”
In Seat 13, incumbent Brian Tomlin also maintained his seat on the bench, garnering 54.7 percent of the vote against challenger Moshera Mills.
Tomlin, who was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to fill the seat left open by Judge Lora Cubbage in March 2019, said in a February interview that he believes his experience as a lawyer makes him a good judge.
“I think having seen what I’ve seen and done what I’ve done makes me able to cover and handle the things you see as a judge,” he said.
Barrett said she voted for Tomlin too, because of her firsthand experience with him.
“When I was a DSS social worker, Tomlin was a family attorney and I watched how he fought for the parents to reunify their children with them,” she said. “I grew up in foster care and I felt like if my parents had had the opportunity to have an attorney like Tomlin, then we would have been in a better situation, maybe we could have reunified with our family. I have actually seen him at work.”
New to the bench are Caroline Tomlinson-Pemberton, who won Seat 4 against Tomakio Gause, and Kelvin Smith, who won Seat 12 against Gavin Reardon.
Tomlinson-Pemberton won her race by fewer than five points, coming into the primary after being hit by a car in January.
In an interview in February, Tomlinson-Pemberton said that despite the setback, she was determined to continue her campaign.
“I’m in this race because I truly believe in the judicial system,” she told Triad City Beat.
In Seat 12, Kelvin Smith also beat Gavin Reardon by less than five percentage points to become the next district court judge. On Wednesday, Smith posted on his campaign’s Facebook page and thanked his 40,000 supporters.
“For I know the plans I have for you…Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! To all of my family, supporters, volunteers, and most importantly the voters of Guilford County, I thank all 40,049 of you! Now the real work begins,” he wrote.
In the Guilford County School Board races, one incumbent won re-election to her seat while another fell to a political newcomer. Incumbent Dianne Bellamy-Small of District 1 fought off challengers Jeff Golden and Ron Tuck and ultimately came away with 56.11 percent of the vote. Bellamy-Small has represented the district since 2017 and explained why she was seeking a second term to TCB in February.
“I am seeking a second term because I believe I have demonstrated hard work, responsibility, experience and integrity as the… District 1 representative,” Bellamy-Small wrote in an email.
On Facebook, she thanked her supporters and said that her “heart is filled with gratitude” and while she doesn’t have “money to pay people,” the “kindness [she] felt in District 1 today was priceless.”
A rematch in District 7 saw incumbent Byron Gladden, who was first elected to the seat in 2017, get ousted by challenger Bettye Taylor Jenkins, who in turn lost to Gladden in 2016. This year, Jenkins won handily, getting 61.4 percent of the vote in the race. Jayvon Johnson came in second with 24.7 percent while Gladden fell to third with only 13.9 percent.
Both Gladden and Jenkins campaigned at Brown Recreation Center on Tuesday afternoon, talking to voters as they entered the polling location.
“I feel good regardless of what the results are,” Gladden said on Tuesday. “I feel that despite all the adversity that’s been thrown at me, I have maintained my values and my position and will continue to advocate for children whether in the seat or not.”
Winner Jenkins spoke similarly about her outlook.
“I’m feeling great,” she said. “I feel confident that I’ve done the best that I can do, along with my team. There are no losers when you’re running because you’ll win regardless. You may not win the race, but there’s other things you can do to influence the minds of children.”
Longtime Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston reclaimed his seat on Tuesday, winning 66.7 percent of the vote against second-time challenger Fahiym Hanna. Alston, who first held the seat from 1992 to 2012, served as chairman five times during his tenure, and reclaimed his seat in 2018. During his run, he repeatedly spoke to his years of experience over Hanna, who ran on a platform that focused on a county-wide worker program that would provide participants with access to basic needs like shelter and transportation.
This time around, Hanna managed to narrow the gap from his 2018 run against Skip by about seven points.
In an interview with TCB in February, Hanna said that even if he didn’t win the race, he would continue to work towards implementing his model in other ways.
“I would find a way to do it in a different capacity,” he said. “I would set it up as a nonprofit or as a business model, but it would be most ideal to do it through the county.”
On Facebook, Alston thanked his supporters for giving him another four years.
“Thanks everyone for your confidence in me and re-electing me to serve you again on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners for another four years,” Alston wrote. “I promise to work hard for you over the next four years, and I will not let you down. Please keep me in your prayers.”
In District 5, Democrat Carly Cooke won easily over opponent Macon Sullivan, and will face Republican Troy Lawson in the general election. Lawson won narrowly against opponent Cyndy Hayworth by about one percentage point.