Garland Mayor Winifred Murphy retained her post, and two newcomers won election to the town’s board, in Tuesday’s municipal election, which saw no big upsets as incumbents won the day, according to unofficial results from the Sampson County Board of Commissioners.
In the lone contested mayoral race in the county, Murphy faced off against Commissioners Haywood Johnson, who currently serves as mayor pro tem, and Ralph Smith, who resigned from the board earlier this year and returned upon appointment. Murphy amassed 154 votes (55.8 percent) to Ralph Smith’s 99 (35.9 percent) and Johnson’s 21 (7.6 percent).
In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election, there were 100 one-stop ballots cast at the Sampson County Board of Elections Office. Of those, a whopping 82 were from Garland residents, with Murphy taking the majority of those one-stop votes in the mayoral race, according to early returns.
The Garland commissioners race was similarly contested, including newcomers Austin Brown, Richard Smith and Eddie Bronson Jr. and incumbent S.J. Smith, with three seats available. It was Brown and Bronson tallying 177 votes apiece (34.4 percent each), and S.J. Smith receiving 103 votes to retain his spot on the board. Richard Smith got 49 votes.
Brown and Bronson will take over for Carolyn Melvin and Johnson, whose unsuccessful run for mayor ends his time on the board as his term is expiring.
Garland also had an ABC referendum on the ballot, with town residents asked to vote “for or against” on three separate issues. Each passed easily, including on and off premises sale of malt beverages (147 for, 93 against), on and off premises sale of mixed beverages (149-92) and on and off premises sale of unfortified wine (138-99).
Salemburg and Newton Grove were the only other towns with contested races Tuesday.
In Salemburg, incumbents Thomas “Tommy” Jackson (66 votes, 32.2 percent), Richard “Dickie” Walters Jr. (54 votes, 26.3 percent) and Arnold Page (50 votes, 24.4 percent) all won reelection, while challengers Donald R. Comer (23 votes, 11.2 percent) and Johnnie C. Parker (12 votes, 5.9 percent) were left in the cold.
In Newton Grove, incumbents Teresa Wilson and Gary Mac Herring each retained their seats with vote tallies of 61 (32.6 percent) and 57 (30.5 percent), respectively. They will be joined on the board by newcomer William “Chris” Raynor, who received 51 votes (27.3 percent) to beat out Jessica Barefoot (18 votes, 9.6 percent) for the last of three seats.
Town board races in Roseboro, Turkey, Harrells, Clinton and Autryville were uncontested, as were mayoral bids for Lew Starling in Clinton, Gerald Darden in Newton Grove and Larry Autry in Autryville. The sitting mayors had vote tallies of 90 for Starling, 57 for Darden and 14 for Autry, respectively, with just a handful of write-ins across the three races, according to the unofficial results.
In Clinton, Councilman Darue Bryant, who was appointed in May to fill out the late Maxine Harris’ District 5 term, was elected to his first full term and Councilman Marcus Becton will extend his already 20-year tenure as District 3’s representative. Both were unopposed, as was challenger Daniel Ruggles, who will take the District 1 reins with Steve Stefanovich not filing for another term.
In Harrells, Charles “Ted” Moore and Kim Johnson are poised to continue as aldermen, just as Cyndi Templin and Anthony Bennett are for the Roseboro board and Rudy M. Blackburn and Tony Moore will for Turkey.
In Autryville, Mickie Spell was the only candidate for two available town seats. She received 20 votes and there were 15 write-ins for the other seat, however it was unclear who received them. If a candidate does not win by write-in votes, the board will have to appoint someone to fill the seat. Any number of write-ins can be elected as long as they are valid write-ins, the candidate is eligible for the seat (lives within the municipality) and the candidate accepts it.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.