Photo: Southwest Ward opponents Kevin Mundy (right) and Scott Andree Bowen campaign outside the Little Creek Community Center in Winston-Salem. (photo by Jordan Green)
Winston-Salem voters stuck to the familiar, supporting Mayor Allen Joines and a slate of incumbent council members by comfortable margins in a decisive local primary election tucked into the presidential nominating contest.
Joines led opponent JoAnne Allen, 69.3 percent to 30.7 percent in final balloting, cementing a sixth term. The popular mayor will face nominal Republican opposition from Kris McCann in the November general election.
Joines pledged during his campaign to continue efforts in increasing employment and reducing poverty through a number of measures, including privately funded initiatives to provide free community college and internships.
“We were really simple in our message: We laid it out really clearly what we want to do, and I think we drew really measurable goals,” Joines said in an interview at his campaign office on Liberty Street. “So, I think it gives me motivation to structure projects and programs that address them because I know the voters are going to be looking at how we’re doing. The poverty rate’s either going up or down or staying the same.”
With the city council election largely overshadowed by a volatile Democratic presidential nominating contest playing out across 14 states, Joines held a low-key celebration at his campaign office with his wife, children and campaign manager. The entrance to the modest suite was marked only by a campaign sign leaning against a dumpster at the back of a parking lot next to a UPS store. By 10 p.m., with less than half of precincts reporting, the mayor sent his family members and campaign manager home, and turned out the lights.
Annette Scippio, who was appointed to the East Ward seat in 2018, prevailed over three formidable challengers in her first election, winning about 40 percent of the vote. Kismet Loftin-Bell, a class-conscious consultant, and Phil Carter, a scrappy community organizer, each drew about 22 percent of the vote, while George Redd IV, an administrator with Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County, came away with about 17 percent.
“To God be the glory, and his will is being done,” said Scippio, a retired corporate manager and nonprofit leader, while watching the results at the Forsyth County Government Center. “I look forward to serving the people with wisdom and compassion.”
John Larson, who is finishing his first term, won a commanding share of the vote against two challengers in the Democratic primary in the South Ward. Larson took about half the vote, compared to about 30 percent by Carolyn Highsmith and about 20 percent by Mackenzie Cates Allen.
In the North Ward, DD Adams won 75.5 percent of the vote against challenger Eunice Campbell.
Voters in the Northeast and Southwest wards chose new representatives, thanks to the retirement of Mayor Pro Tem Vivian Burke and Councilman Dan Besse’s decision to run for state House.
Hilda Moore, a housing counselor, cast her vote for Barbara Hanes Burke, the daughter-in-law of the current representative, at the Carver High School polling place.
Burke, who currently serves on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board, prevailed with 57.2 percent of the vote. Morticia (Tee-Tee) Parmon, the daughter of the late state Sen. Earline Parmon, won 21.6 percent of the vote, while Keith King, owner of Kingz Downtown Market, took 21.2 percent.
“That was a tough one,” Moore said. “I voted for Barbara. I’ve seen her out campaigning more than anyone else.”
In the Southwest Ward, Kevin Mundy, a nonprofit leader poised to become the city’s first openly gay city council member, bested Scott Andree Bowen, who directs the youth and food pantry ministries at a local church. Mundy’s lopsided win gave him nearly twice Andree Bowen’s vote total. The two greeted voters together outside the Little Creek Community Center.
“Both of the candidates seem very compassionate, and very friendly towards each other,” observed Kyle Vanderpoel, a software developer who voted at the polling place.
Robert C. Clark, the only Republican member of the council, walloped primary challenger George K. Ware, 84.0 percent to 16.0 percent.
All of the Winston-Salem City Council wards heavily lean towards one party or the other, making the primary a crucial test. Barring an extraordinary partisan challenge in the general election or a successful petition campaign by an independent candidate, all victorious primary candidates will be seated on the next city council in December.
Forsyth County voters also supported a quarter-cent sales tax to fund a local teacher pay supplement by a margin of almost 20 points.
In other local races, challenger Denise Hines edged out incumbent Renita Thompkins Linville in the Forsyth County Clerk of Superior Court race, 50.7 percent to 49.3 percent.
And in the multi-representative Forsyth County Commission District B race, the three incumbents — Chairman David Plyler, Richard Linville and Gloria Whisenhunt — easily defended their positions against newcomer Terri Mrazek. The three Republican incumbents will face Democrats Christopher Smith, Gull Riaz and Eric Weiss in the November general election.
Some voters in Winston-Salem experienced difficulty when they showed up to their polling place, only to find that the ballots for their races were not available.
Scippio said the first 12 voters at the Fourteenth Street Recreation Center polling place reported that they received Northeast Ward ballots even though they live in the East Ward. She said all but one returned to the polling place and were able to vote on the correct ballots. (The precinct is split between the East and Northeast wards.)
Shawnee Haney said she showed up when the poll opened at 6:30 a.m. and went home to get dressed for work, and when she came back a poll greeter outside told her the ballots were still not available. She said she was able to make it back from work in Charlotte, and vote before the polls closed at 7:30 a.m.
Elections Director Tim Tsujii characterized the matter as a “small hiccup.” He said the poll workers couldn’t locate the East Ward ballots at first, but the confusion only delayed voting by 10 minutes.
Later, at about 4:30 p.m., a poll greeter reported to TCB that the Miller Park Recreation Center in the Southwest Ward had run out of Democratic ballots.
The Forsyth County Board of Elections and State Board of Elections agreed to allow the polling place to extend voting at the polling place from 7:30 p.m. to 8:10 p.m.
Todd Luck, a spokesperson for Forsyth County, said the extension was authorized “after there were long lines earlier in the day due to not having enough ballots of certain ballot styles for about 40 minutes at the precinct, during which numerous voters left.”