LUMBERTON — The chairman of the county Board of Commissioner will have to survive a recount on Saturday if he is to win a seventh term, and a second incumbent county commissioner is likely to be the underdog in a runoff.
During an election canvass on Tuesday, Noah Woods, the commissioner for District 4 since 1990, saw his nine-vote lead over Faline Locklear Dial reduced to two votes with the addition of provisional ballots.
This is the first time that Woods has been seriously challenged for the seat. He sat expressionless throughout most of Tuesday’s vote count, declining to respond to numerous requests from a reporter for comment.
“I might comment later, after the recount,” he finally said.
Dial, new to the political scene, immediately requested the recount after seeing the margin drop to two votes. Steve Stone, chairman of the Robeson County Board of Elections, set the recount for 8 a.m. Saturday.
Saturday’s recount will be conducted by machine rather than by hand, according to Stone.
“I have confidence in the machines and our staff,” Stone said. “They have been very accurate in the past.”
Dial had focused her campaign on the need for change, new leadership as well as transparency in Robeson County.
“The people have definitely sent a message,” she said. “They want change.”
Out of 157 approved provisional ballots counted Tuesday just before the canvassing of all primary race results, 25 ballots made muster to be included in the District 4 race for county commissioner. Dial picked up 16 provisional votes, increasing her vote total to 1,059; Woods picked up nine provisional votes, bringing his total vote count to 1,061.
Both Woods and Dial are Democrats and the winner is unopposed in November’s General Election.
Hubert Sealey, who is seeking a fourth term representing District 2, was not at Tuesday’s provisional vote count or election canvassing, but Stone said late Tuesday afternoon that Sealey has officially requested a run-off election between himself and former Commissioner Berlester Campbell, the high-vote getter in the six-way race for the District 2 seat. Sealey mustered the most votes behind Campbell.
None of the six candidates garnered 40 percent of votes cast, the percentage needed to prevent a run-off.
Both Sealey and Campbell are Democrats and the winner of the runoff will be unopposed in the November General Election.
Campbell, who served 10 years as a county commissioner, lost the District 2 seat to Sealey when Sealey made his first run for the seat.
Stone said the runoff will be held July 15.
“I’m not going to make any comment now. I’ll get you a bigger story later,” Campbell said when contacted by The Robesonian. “I can’t say anything now that might reveal my hand.”
The results of the District 2 commissioner race after all ballots were counted are: Campbell, 833; Sealey, 666; Larry S. Graham, 485; Paul Hunt Jr., 430; John Jackson, 97; and Jason Carter, 48.
None of the other primary race outcomes were affected by Tuesday’s counting of provisional votes and the election canvass.