Eight vie for four commission seats

Published 11:22 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Carolyn Harding is all smiles while awaiting results at the Beaufort County Board of Elections. Harding finished second to incumbent Jerry Langley in the Democratic primary to fill four seats on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners. (WDN Photo/Vail Stewart Rumley)

Beaufort County’s voters chose eight candidates — four Democrats and four Republicans — to vie for four seats on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

The Democratic nominees are Jerry Langley, Carolyn Harding, Robert Belcher and Wayne Sawyer, according to Tuesday’s unofficial returns from the Beaufort County Board of Elections.

They will face Republican nominees Hood Richardson, Jay McRoy, Donald Dixon and Gary L. Brinn, the GOP primary winners.

Langley received the most votes of all the commissioner candidates with 1,805 votes.

“I’m happy with the results,” Langley said in an interview after the votes were counted. “I think it shows that the people like my middle approach to everything.

“I’ll just continue to work for the people of Beaufort County and hopefully and prayerfully we can have this same result in November,” he said.

Langley carried 10 of 21 precincts in the Democratic primary.

Richardson finished first among the Republican candidates with 1,439 votes.

In an interview after the votes were tallied, Richardson said he is “somewhat surprised” by his strong showing because he had tried to advocate for the other conservative Republican candidates.

Richardson carried 16 of 21 precincts as well as one-stop and absentee mail-in voting in the Republican primary.

In the Democratic primary, Harding finished in second place with 1,050 votes; Belcher, third with 672 votes and Sawyer, fourth, with 490 votes. The three will join Langley on the Democratic ticket in November.

Harding carried four precincts as well as one-stop voting in the Democratic primary; Belcher, four precincts as well as the absentee mail-in voting, and Sawyer, two precincts.

Democrats Mickey Cochran, with 334 votes and Lloyd Balance, who carried the Belhaven precinct with 279 votes, finished fifth and sixth, respectively.

Harding, who had previously served as a commissioner, said she is relieved and happy with her showing in the primary.

Harding said that while she ran a relatively low-key campaign in the primary election, given the uncertainty of the results from limited voting, “I suspect that I will be a little more active in the November campaign.”

In the Republican primary, Jay McRoy finished second, with 747 votes; Donald Dixon, third, with 699 votes, and Gary L. Brinn, fourth with 584 votes.

Dixon and Brinn each carried two precincts, McRoy one.

The three will join Richardson on the November ballot.

Tony (T.J) Keech, Jr., with 378 votes; Larry Britt, with 343 votes, and Rick Gagliano, with 231 votes did not garner enough support to continue to the November election.

McRoy, considered a member of the moderate wing of the Republican Party, had been the target of negative ads prompted by the more conservative wing of the GOP.

In an interview, McRoy said he is pleased with his second-place finish in the primary, and based on comments he had received from voters, not surprised by his primary win.

“I had a lot of comments from people who resented the negative advertising,” he said. “I tried always to be positive. I don’t try to cater to one group or another but try to do the best for the people of Beaufort County.”

Vote totals are unofficial until ballots are canvassed by local boards of election and certified by the State Board of Elections. In Beaufort County, the Board of Elections will canvass ballots at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Unofficial vote totals include absentee ballots and early voting ballots, but they do not include provisional ballots. Voters whose registration status can’t be verified on the spot mark provisional ballots on Election Day. On or before canvassing day, the ballots are checked against elections records to clear up any registration discrepancies.