Belcher, Brinn to join county board

Published 12:35 am Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Anita Branch, deputy assistant to board of elections director Kellie Hopkins, records poll results called in Tuesday night. (WDN Photo/Mona Moore)

Two new members will join the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners in December, according to unofficial election returns.
Political newcomer Gary Brinn, a Republican, and Robert Belcher, former school board chairman and a Democrat, were elected to the board along with incumbents Jerry Langley and Hood Richardson.
Tuesday’s election results means Republicans will maintain their majority on the board, and some said that the ouster of Jay McRoy, a moderate Republican, leaves the board with a more conservative philosophy.
Although some political observers wondered if the new board will be more divisive as a result of Tuesday’s election, others have said the two newcomers, despite different political leanings, appear ready to work together for the betterment of the county.
The apparent election of the four means the board will be comprised almost exclusively of Washington residents or those who live in the Washington area.
The vote also leaves the southern section of the county without a representative on the board.
Belcher and Brinn, both list Washington as their addresses. They will replace Cayton, of Edward, and McRoy, of Chocowinity.
Incumbents Ed Booth, Stan Deatherage and Al Klemm, who did not face re-election this year, all live in the Washington area.
Under Beaufort County’s limited-voting method, the top four finishers in Tuesday’s vote were elected to the board with votes cast countywide.
McRoy said Tuesday’s vote proves that it is increasingly difficult for candidates from the county’s more rural areas to be elected to the board.
In his campaign, Brinn, focused on the need to end limited voting and the need to rein in property taxes. He also opposed the construction of a new county jail, saying the county’s taxpayers cannot afford to build it now.
On Tuesday night, Brinn declined to comment saying he was “sitting back and enjoying the moment.”
Belcher, in his campaign, also advocated an end to limited voting and promised to make supporting the public schools a top priority.
He said Tuesday’s vote was “humbling and fulfilling at the same time.”
Jerry Langley led Tuesday’s unofficial returns with 3,854 votes followed by Belcher, with 3,500; Brinn, with 3,088; and Richardson, with 2,966. Challenger Donald Dixon finished fifth, just out of the running with 2,574 votes followed by Jay McRoy, with 2,574; Carolyn Harding, with 2,468; and Wayne Sawyer, with 1,075.
Langley, who serves as chairman of the board, said he is pleased with his re-election to the board, but was surprised by Tuesday’s vote, particularly with the ouster of McRoy.
“I really don’t know what to expect right now,” he said. “My concern now is will there be Tuesday’s election was not the first time that a top finisher in the primary election was not among the winners in the November election.
Harding, who had previously served on the board, finished second in the Democratic primary but fell short in Tuesday‘s general election.
“I’m disappointed,” she said. “But I’m not really surprised.”
And McRoy, who finished sixth Tuesday night, finished second in the Republican primary.
Langley led the vote count in six precincts and in the early and absentee vote counts, Brinn carried five precincts Belcher carried three precincts Richardson took three precincts, Sawyer took two precincts and Dixon and McRoy carried one precinct each.