Top 10 of 2014: In with the new, Long, heated run-up to Election Day
Published 12:15 pm Monday, December 29, 2014
Beaufort County’s newly elected officials and the long campaign trail to win those offices is the No. 6 story of 2014.
When Beaufort County Sheriff Alan Jordan announced he would not be seeking a fifth term as sheriff, the field was blown wide open. Nine candidates threw their hats in the ring, with some starting their campaigns nearly two years before the election that would see a 27-year veteran of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol take the office after two primaries and the general election.
Sheriff Ernie Coleman, sworn into office on Dec. 1, was one of four Republicans on the campaign trail — the others, former BCSO Chief Deputy Harry Meredith, Donald Dixon, Rick Guthrie. For the Democrats, Juvenile Justice advocate Al J. Whitney, Chocowinity Police Chief Todd Alligood, BCSO Narcotics Unit Capt. Russell Davenport, Gary Blount and Val Scales, all declared their intention to be the next Beaufort County sheriff.
Two primaries were needed before the final two candidates were decided. In May, Democrats Whitney and Davenport were close enough in vote tallies to require a second primary; for the Republicans, it was Meredith and Coleman who rose above the rest of the candidates. In the July primary, the field was further narrowed to Coleman and Whitney, and on Dec. 1, Coleman was sworn into office as the new sheriff.
Three Beaufort County Board of Commissioners’ seats were in contest in the November election: Democrat Ed Booth and longtime Commissioner Stan Deatherage, a Republican, would run again, and a third seat, that of Republican Al Klemm, who decided not to run for a third term, drew a slew of candidates to the race. In this race as well, it was a primary that decided which Republicans would be on the ballot on Election Day. Don Cox and Deatherage, surprisingly, didn’t make it out of the primary, leaving Beaufort County Republican Party Chairman Keith Kidwell, Ron Buzzeo and Frankie Waters in the race. Buzzeo, a Chocowinity resident with a strong business background, and Waters, who hails from northeastern Beaufort County, became the newest commissioners, and Booth was reelected.
While the Board has long had a 4-3 party split in favor of Republicans, the election of Buzzeo and Waters shifted the political leaning of the Board on certain issues, primarily whether a new jail would be built in the Chocowinity Industrial Park — a project that four of the seven county commissioners have pushed, while the remaining three, all Republicans, have vehemently opposed. One meeting into the new Board, all jail planning has been postponed and all further action halted until the SBI returns its investigation into the hanging death, an apparent suicide, of a Beaufort County Detention Center inmate on Nov. 30.
Another race, that of Beaufort County Superior Clerk of Court, found Democrat and incumbent Clerk of Court Marty Paramore in a race between Republican Jimbo Shiver and unaffiliated candidate, and former Clerks Office employee, Eva Buck. In what turned out to be a nearly landslide election, Paramore retained the office he’s held for two previous terms.
Incumbent Second Judicial District Attorney Seth Edwards ran unopposed for a fourth term. Edwards has not faced competition for the office since his first re-election bid in 2006.