ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Board of Commissioners will see two new faces and say goodbye to one current member.
Tavares Bostic and Rick Watkins won two the four seats up for grabs in Tuesday’s election and Commissioners Ben Moss and Don Bryant were both re-elected. One seat was left open due to Commissioner Thad Ussery stepping down.
When early voting and mail-in ballot results were announced just after the polls closed at 7:30 p.m., Moss had the lead with 3,441 votes, followed closely by Bostic with 3,439.
As the precincts began rolling in, Moss and Bostic remained the two top vote-getters, with Moss garnering a total of 7,128.
“That was amazing, I was not expecting that at all,” said Moss, who stayed home with his family to watch the results online. “It’s a humbling experience.”
Moss, who is entering his third term on the board, said he hopes he earned the trust of the voters, regardless of party. He was the first Republican elected to the board in more than a century when he first took office.
“It amazed me a Republican would get the majority of the vote” in a historically Democratic county, he said. “I just want to try to show the people of the county I’m consistent in my efforts to make it a better place for everybody to live.”
Bostic, in his second bid for county commissioner, was excited and exhausted following his constant campaigning.
“I think this is a true testament to the people of Richmond County saying they want change and acting on that,” he said.
The vote was the just the first part of that change, Bostic added. Part two is “everybody stepping in and doing their part.”
Bostic offered thanks to the voters, his campaign workers and the other candidates who have making Richmond County great on their agenda.
“Hopefully this is going to be a board that’s going to make things happen.”
Watkins, a longtime educator, had the third-highest number of votes.
“I am pleased and excited to have been elected as a county commissioner!” he said in a statement. “Most of all, I am humbled by the level of support given to me by the citizens of Richmond County.
“I would like to express my sincere appreciation to my wife, Cindy along with my entire family and everyone who worked on my campaign or voted for me today,” he continued. “I will work diligently to serve the people of Richmond County to the best of my ability.”
Long, an incumbent elected in 2014, received the fewest votes of the six candidates. Although he admitted to being disappointed, he said “the citizens of the county have spoken” and he can live with the results.
“I appreciated the citizens putting trust in me four years ago,” he said. “I think the county is currently on a good path and I hope it continues to head that way.”
His single term as county commissioner may not be the end of his political career. Long hinted that he may be running for public office on the state level.
Although Entwistle had 330 votes fewer than Bryant, he could ask for a recount since the margin is less than 1 percent.
All election numbers are unofficial until canvassing on Nov. 16.