While incumbents retook their seats easily in Forsyth county, some races in Guilford county finished with very close results.
Guilford county races
On Tuesday evening, the composition of the Guilford county board of commissioners flipped from red to blue. In the District 6 county commissioner race, Democrat James Upchurch beat Republican Jim Davis by 5.7 percentage points, flipping the district for Democrats, giving Democrats the majority on the board. Democrat Carly Cooke also beat Republican Troy Lawson by more than 12 percentage points in District 5.
“I’m incredibly honored that voters of District 5 chose me to represent them on the board of commissioners,” Cooke told Triad City Beat in a statement on Tuesday night. “I’m proud of the campaign we ran and thankful for our supporters….I’m humbled by the responsibility ahead, committed to serving earnestly and excited to get to work.”
One race in particular could still be in play depending on the number of absentee ballots that are counted in the next nine days. A recent US Supreme Court ruling stated that for North Carolina, as long as absentee ballots are postmarked by Nov. 3, they will be counted for the general election if they are received by 5 p.m. on Nov. 12. In the Guilford County commissioner race for District 4 between Democrat Mary Beth Murphy and Republican incumbent Alan Branson, Murphy was leading Branson by just 0.04 percent, or 18 votes at the end of the night on Tuesday. With Murphy’s lead and Upchurch’s win, the composition of the board went from five Republicans and four Democrats to seven Democrats and two Republicans.
“I am so grateful to all of the groups of individuals that have leaned in to support our campaign,” Murphy said in a statement to TCB on Tuesday night. “Tonight we are cautiously optimistic and looking forward to seeing the results certified.”
Both contested Guilford School Board races in District 3 and District 5 were also very close. In District 3, Democratic challenger Blake Odum trailed incumbent Republican Pat Tillman by just 0.24 percent or 88 votes. In the District 5 school board race, unaffiliated candidate Deborah Napper had a slightly larger lead over Republican Michelle Bardsley by 0.52 percent, or 187 votes.
Democratic school board candidates T. Dianne Bellamy-Small and Bettye Taylor Jenkins ran unopposed in the general election. Democratic county Commissioner Skip Alston also ran unopposed.
In the Guilford County Register of Deeds race, Democratic incumbent Jeff Thigpen retook his seat easily over challenger Abdul Rashid Siddiqui by more than 38 percentage points. In the Guilford County Soil and Water Conservation Board race, political newcomer and youngest candidate on the ballot Antoinette Weaver beat out five other candidates for the one seat, including incumbent Ray Briggs, to win the seat. Weaver, who is 23 years old, won with 36.1 percent of the vote.
Canvassing at St. John’s United Methodist Church in Greensboro on Tuesday, Weaver said she was proud of what she and her team had accomplished.
“I have a lot of ideas that I want to implement in the city, and I don’t think my age should get in the way of my ability to perform the job,” Weaver said. “A lot of young people were excited to see someone their age as well…. They said, ‘You know what, I didn’t think this is something that someone our age could do.’” Weaver is an earth and environmental sustainability studies graduate from UNCG who said they ran to increase environmental awareness, create environmental education and support environmental justice.
The Guilford county school bond referendum which would authorize a $300 million bond to improve public schools in Guilford county, passed by more than 44 percent. The sales tax referendum, which would have raised the county sales tax by 0.25 percent to help pay for the school bond, failed by more than 33 percentage points.
Forsyth county local races
In Forsyth County, incumbents had a good evening, winning every single race on the ballot with the exception of a district court race. Democrat Whit Davis beat Republican Mike Silver for the District Court Judge District 21 Seat 8 race.
All three incumbent Republican county commission candidates were re-elected to their seats on the board, outpacing their Democratic challengers by between 2.5 and 5 percentage points. Incumbent David Plyler, who has served on the board since 1994 — with a gap between 2006 and 2008 — garnered the most votes, making up 19.7 percent. His Republican colleagues Gloria Whisenhunt and Richard Linville also retook their seats in second and third place with 18.4 percent and 17.8 percent of the vote respectively.
Democratic challenger Christopher Smith, who came in fourth place with 15.2 percent of the vote, told Triad City Beat that the closeness of the race showed that District B isn’t as solidly red as was previously thought.
“Before we had any Election Day votes, we were within 2,000 votes,” he said at the Terri LeGrand watch party on Tuesday night. “They told us this was going to be a blowout, but we showed that it’s not unwinnable…. The goal for me was to raise issues like youth upward mobility, expanding poverty rates and the fact that we have the most failing schools in this county. Winning would have been icing on the cake. We did what we came to do, even though obviously we would have liked to win.”
In the Winston-Salem mayoral race, Democratic incumbent Allen Joines also retook his seat handily, winning 71.7 percent of the vote compared to Republican challenger Kris McCann’s 27.9 percent.
In the Winston-Salem City Council Southeast Ward race, incumbent Democrat James Taylor also rewon his seat by a wide margin over Libertarian challenger Wesley Longsdorf. Taylor won with 84.3 percent of the vote.While there were a number of write-in candidates for the city council races, none garnered enough votes to be competitive.