LUMBERTON — All three incumbent Robeson County commissioners won their Democratic primary races on Tuesday, with Raymond Cummings facing the most difficult challenge in District 5, winning by 148 votes.
For the second time, Cummings barely defeated a strong challenge from Lacy Cummings. This year’s battle mirrored their 2008 race in which Raymond Cummings defeated Lacy Cummings by 203 votes.
Raymond Cummings, a commissioner for 16 years, received 1,683 votes, or 52.30 percent, of the total 3,218 votes cast. Lacy Cummings garnered 1,535 votes, or 47.70 percent, of the total.
All of the vote totals are unofficial until next week.
“This was a vote of confidence,” Raymond Cummings, a resident of Philadelphus and Transportation director for the Public Schools of Robeson County, said late Tuesday. “I appreciate the citizens in District 5 who voted for me. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve them and represent them on the board. I promise to continue to work hard and make good decisions that will move the county forward in a positive direction.”
Lacy Cummings, a resident of the Mt. Airy community, could not be reached for comment. He is a farmer and the owner of both Pembroke Tire and the NAPA auto parts store in Pembroke.
Since no Republicans ran for the seats in District 1,3 and 5, Tuesday’s winner will not face opposition in the General Election in November.
In District 1, six-year veteran board member Jerry Stephens defeated political newcomer James Smith. Stephens, a Lumberton resident, received 1,377 votes, or 58.52 percent of the 2,353 votes cast. Smith received 672 votes, or 28.56 percent of the total votes cast.
Although he had withdrawn from the race, Lumberton City Councilman John Cantey still drew 304 votes, or 12.92 percent of the total. Cantey withdrew from the race after the ballots for Tuesday’s primary election were already printed.
“This has been a hotly contested race. It’s been a lot of work,” Stephens said. “But the people I serve in the district know I’m active and visible in the community.”
Stephens said he doesn’t plan on resting.
“I’m going to become even more engaged in the community,” he said. “There are some things that I want to get done while I’m on the board.”
Stephens owns and operates Professional Services Insurance Agency, Jerry Stephens and Associates Marketing Firm, and Jerry Stephens and Sons Used Cars.
Smith, who served as Project Safe Neighborhoods community coordinator for the Lumberton Police Department before his retirement, could not be reached late Tuesday for comment.
In District 3, incumbent Roger Oxendine easily defeated Pembroke businessman Mickey Locklear. Oxendine received 1,774, or 71.76 percent of the 2,472 votes cast, while Locklear collected 698, or 28.24 percent of the total votes.
Oxendine, an agri-businessman from Rowland, has served as a commissioner for six years.
“I am so humbled by the support I got from the District 3 voters,” Oxendine said. “I look forward to continue serving the people of the district and intend to do the very best job I can do … . We have made a lot of accomplishments in the last four years and we will make a lot more in the coming years.”
Locklear, the manager of the McDonald’s in Pembroke since 2005, had previously run for the District 3 seat. He said Tuesday that in spite of his loss to Oxendine he is considering another run for the seat sometime in the future.
“I want to thank all of the people who supported me in this election,” he said.
In District 7, Democrat Tom Taylor, who was unopposed on Tuesday, will face political newcomer Dennis Harrell during the General Election.
Harrell, a Lumberton resident who from 1985 to 2010 served as pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church, received 327 votes, or 67.98 percent of the 481 votes cast, to defeat James “Joey” McLellan, a student at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke who, received 154 votes.
“I’m thankful to the people who voted for me and I’m looking forward to November,” Harrell said. “This election is all about building the economy and bringing good jobs to the area.
“I won’t try to think up ways of taking people’s hard earned money with new taxes,” he said. “We have enough taxes.”
McLellan said that he mustered about as many votes as he expected he would as a political newcomer. He also said he plans to run again for a seat on the county Board of Commissioners in four years.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.