RICMOND COUNTY – All throughout the county Tuesday, residents acted on their civic duty, voting in local elections for city council candidates they wanted to represent them in office.
Although voter turnout was low and many of the elections were uncontested, for those running, the excitement and anxiety were still high as polls closed at 8 p.m. on Tuesday. By 8:25 p.m., the results were tallied and winners were contacted. For a full list of winners in each municipality, please click here.
Out of the four major municipalities in the county, Ellerbe is the only one that witnessed a major seat change where an incumbent was ousted. Challenger Fred Cloninger, 61, who recently moved back to his hometown last year, beat out incumbent Corey Brewington, 42. Cloninger garnered 82 votes, while Brewington only snagged 57 votes.
Cloninger expressed excitement and gratitude for his big win.
“I’m just happy the citizens of Ellerbe put their confidence in me to make Ellerbe the best it can be,” Cloninger noted.
“I am kind of nervous and excited,” Cloninger expressed about earning his new seat. “Nervous about not knowing what I’m getting into, but excited about what fresh ideas I can bring to the great town of Ellerbe.”
Another newcomer to the candidate circle also proved successful in Tuesday’s election. John D. Taylor, 81, will be filling the open seat in Hoffman’s town council.
Although new to the local office arena, Taylor has been a resident of Hoffman for 30 years and the proof is in the numbers. He received the highest number of votes out of all those running for town council with 36 votes, beating out all incumbents.
“It’s my first time at it, so I don’t know how to feel,” Taylor said following his win. “But it feels great to just have the opportunity to try to help.
“What you see is what you get,” Taylor said of his expectation to win. “I don’t know how to act. I’m just a poor, old, country man with the same values I’ve always had. I’m just in a different position to make the town of Hoffman better and not worse.”
Continuing efforts to build the city is what Hamlet incumbents are most excited about as a result of this election season. Incumbents, Jesse McQueen and Eddie Martin, will both retain their seats on Hamlet’s City Council. McQueen amassed 322 votes, and Martin gathered 365 votes beating out challengers Stephanie Dixon (214 votes) and Jerry Dean Lamont (199 votes).
McQueen, 46, expressed nothing but confidence in receiving another four-year term.
“I felt great about the election the whole time; I wasn’t a bit nervous,” McQueen said.
“I am honored to be back on the council with Bill (Bayless), Eddie and the rest of the council members,” McQueen continued. “I’m just ready to get back to work on improving the quality of the City for the citizens of Hamlet.”
The same feeling of being able to continue the work was on the lips of the incumbents of Rockingham, who all ran unopposed.
Gene Willard, who collected the highest number of votes (306), will be serving the city of Rockingham for another four years. Denise Sullivan will also be serving a four-year term and Anne Edwards will be serving a two year term, as she earned the fewest votes between the three candidates..
“I feel really good about the election,” Willard said. “And with or without opposition, it was nice of people to think enough of me to put me back in office for another four years.”
He also expressed gratitude to the citizens of Rockingham and his fellow incumbents.
“I thank the citizens of Rockingham for exercising their right to vote and going out and making each one count,” Willard said. “Things are going well in the city and I’m glad we all, Anne, Denise, and myself, get to continue the good work.”
For more information about city council and election results, contact the Richmond County Board of Elections at 910-997-8253.