Incumbent dominates in Dems’ race

Published 2:45 pm Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Staff Writer

Democrat Ed Booth cleaned up at the polls in Tuesday’s primary, garnering 1,669 votes, 801 more votes than his nearest competitor, the totals showed.
All totals are unofficial until they are canvassed by the Beaufort County Board of Elections on May 11. These numbers are subject to change during canvassing.
Booth, an incumbent Beaufort County commissioner, attributed his standing to a decision to make direct appeals to his supporters.
“People understand that when I say I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it and try,” he said Tuesday night.
Next in the race was Sonya Shamseldin, who finished the night with 868 votes.
“We worked really hard,” Shamseldin said, adding that she can reach out to Republicans now that the primary is over.
“I’m a good crossover to Republicans, too,” she stated.
Third in standing was Jerry Evans, a novice candidate who was unaware of the ending tallies before he walked in the door at the Beaufort County Board of Elections’ offices in Washington.
Booth, Evans and Shamseldin ended up at the elections offices before the night was through. They are the Democratic nominees for the three seats available on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners in this year’s election cycle.
Soon after he entered the building, Evans learned that he had scored 680 votes.
“That’s not bad, first time around,” he said when shown the numbers.
Evans said he’s had pledges of GOP support, and noted that he spent the day visiting the county’s polling places.
“I was very encouraged,” he commented.
After the polls closed Tuesday night, it appeared that these three candidates had captured their party’s nomination to run for three available slots on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.
These three Democrats will encounter the three Republican nominees in the Nov. 2 general election.
Tuesday’s fourth-place finisher was former Washington Councilman Darwin Woolard.
Woolard wrapped things up with 541 votes, and he will not move on to the general election.
“It probably wasn’t my time,” he said. “And I look forward to getting behind a candidate, getting ready for the November election.”
Woolard said he didn’t know which commissioner candidate he’ll end up supporting.
He also said he didn’t know if he will return to politics, but he didn’t rule it out.
“I’m pretty sure I’m not dead in the water yet,” Woolard related.
Booth is an administrative hearing officer with the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles.
He spent two terms on the Washington City Council before being unseated in 2003’s hotly competitive election.
In November of that year, Woolard beat Booth by eight votes, knocking the incumbent councilman out in a surprise upset.
In 2004, Booth was appointed to fill out the unexpired term of Democratic Commissioner David Moore, who resigned from office.
In 2006, Booth was elected in his own right.
Woolard is the owner of Kingdom Kids Academy, a child-care center.
He served for six years on the city council before being defeated last year.
Booth had speculated that Woolard was “recruited” to run against him, a charge that Woolard denied.
“No one came to me and asked me about running,” Woolard told the Washington Daily News in a late-March interview. “I wanted to run because I felt that I could do a good job as a county commissioner. I felt I did a good job as a city councilman.”
Booth and others speculated that Woolard’s entrance into the race could divide the black vote, lessening the chance of having renewed minority representation on the county board after the primary.
Now that Woolard has been taken out of contention, it appears that concern has disappeared.
Shamseldin, a small-business owner, serves as chairwoman of the Beaufort County Department of Social Services’ board.
Evans is the owner of Century 21 The Realty Group in Washington and part owner of Century 21 The Realty Group in Greenville.