The majority of incumbents were returned to their seats in Garland, Roseboro and Salemburg Tuesday night, stopping bids to unseat them, as a slim turnout of voters chose experience, for the most part, in the only contested races across Sampson.
Only in Garland did two of three incumbent commissioners — husband and wife team Michael and Denise Toler — find themselves without the positions they currently hold.
Garland mayor Winfred Murphy was returned to her mayoral position in a closely contested race pitting her against current town commissioner Ralph Smith. Murphy secured 152 votes to opponent Smith’s 141 to take her position back.
Garland commissioner Haywood C. Johnson was the top vote-getter in that race, with 160 votes, or 21.8 percent of all the ballots cast. He was followed closely behind by S.J. Smith with 137 votes (18.66 percent). The third seat on the Garland town board was secured by newcomer Carolyn Yolanda Melvin, who received 124 votes (16.89 percent).
The Tolers were narrowly defeated, coming in fourth and fifth in the vote totals, with Denise Toler receiving 121 votes and Michael Toler 101. Judy C. Smith received 89 votes and there were two write-ins.
Salemburg voters returned Arnold Page and Joe Warren to their respective seats on the board, and gave newcomer Dickie Walters a place at the town’s government table. Warren secured the most votes, with 55, followed by Walters with 41 and Page with 40. Johnnie Parker, the fourth person on Salemburg’s ballot received 19 votes.
And in Roseboro, incumbents Alice Butler and Anthony Bennett quashed their opponents by large margins. Butler was the high vote-getter with 150 followed by Bennett with 111. Newcomers Laura Nicole Owen Gray received 30 votes; Steven Heath, 3; Cary Holland, 37; and Barry C. Templin, 21.
In uncontested races, Newton Grove will have a new mayor come December as commissioner Barbara Burch takes the helm from current mayor Gerald Darden. Commissioners are incumbents Gary Mac Herring and Stephen Jackson, and Teresa Wilson joins them, replacing Burch as a member of the town board.
In the county seat of Clinton, mayor Lew Starling and incumbent council members Steve Stefanovich, Marcus Becton and Maxine Harris, all who ran unopposed, will return to their respective leadership roles.
The same is true in Autryville, where Bill Holden and Mickie Spell were returned to their seats, along with mayor Patricia Williams; in Turkey, Tony Moore and Donald C. Myers earned town board spots; and in Harrells, Ted Moore and Kim Johnson have aldermen seats.
Election results came in just before deadline so full stories with comments from winners can be found in Thursday’s Sampson Independent and online at www.clintonnc.com.
All votes are unofficial until the Sampson County Board of Election holds its canvas next Tuesday, Nov. 12.
(Staff writer Lauren Williams contributed to this article.)