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Tuesday's winners and losers thank voters, discuss race

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Kem Spence, who won a city council seat in the 3rd Ward in Tuesday's municipal election in Elizabeth City, campaigns outside the polling station at Pasquotank Elementary School.

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By William F. West
Staff Writer

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Both winning and losing candidates in Elizabeth City’s municipal election on Tuesday are thanking their supporters and expressing relief the campaign is finally over.

Winners talked about why they believe their messages resonated with voters; candidates who came up short talked about why they believe they weren’t successful.

Sam Davis, who lost to Bettie Parker in the mayoral race by more than 800 votes, took his loss in stride, commenting that voters seemed to want to go in a different direction in selecting Parker. Though he said he and Parker were different in many ways, he said she was a good person and remained his friend.

“I wish her well,” he said, adding they had a friendly campaign.

Davis also said he found it “refreshing” that voters have selected a new city council, and he hoped the new body would well together to improve the city and its economy.

“I'm all about bringing business to Elizabeth City and hopefully they will be too,” he said.

Davis also thanked his supporters, saying he was touched by how genuine their support has been.

Darius Horton, who won re-election in the 4th Ward, also expressed thanks to the voters who returned him to council for a third term.

“They felt confident in my abilities to be their voice,” he said.

Horton said that other than stationing himself outside the Pasquotank Board of Elections office during early voting and greeting voters outside the K.E. White Center on election day, he really didn't do that much campaigning. He believes the fact voters knew him and felt comfortable with him helped him win re-election.

“I had the mindset that either they were going to vote for me or they were not,” he said.

Horton’s fellow councilor in the 4th Ward, Johnnie Walton, also thanked voters for his re-election victory. He and Horton won new terms by defeating challenger Jason Gillis.

Asked why he thought he had won re-election, Walton said he thought it was because 4th Ward voters still support his decisions and want him to represent them.

Walton said he hopes the new council that takes office in December will get together and create a vision all eight councilors and the new mayor can be excited about.

Also winning election on Tuesday were 1st Ward candidates Billy Caudle and Jeannie Young, both of whom won seats currently occupied by Jean Baker and Ray Donnelly, neither of whom sought re-election. Caudle and Young finished ahead of three other candidates seeking 1st Ward seats: Bridget Colbert, Frank Caruso and Alice Redding.

Young, a former councilor who served from 1997 to 2001, thanked those who had voted for her. Asked why she thought voters had chosen her over the other three candidates, she believed it was because so many people know her and her involvement in the community.

“I just feel like that they know I love my community because I have proven it,” she said. “I stayed active” and worked hard, helping by serving on an array of local boards.

Caudle, who won election on his first try for public office, described his victory as a team effort.

“We've had a good group of people helping and doing,” he said. “It makes me very happy and proud of everybody. I hope I just can live up to everything.”

Caudle said he had a lot of help from people going door to door and working at the polls for him.

Caruso also expressed appreciation to his supporters and congratulated both Caudle and Young for a job “well done.”

“I thought that the voters spoke very clearly,” he said.

Caruso said he believes there are many other ways for him to serve his community and “I look forward to doing just that."

Redding, who also lost a bid for council in 2015, said she wasn't disappointed she also lost on Tuesday.

Asked why she thinks she didn’t win, Redding said she believes it’s because the candidates “picked out by the current administration” received more financial backing and support than other candidates. She said that support, along with the winning candidates’ endorsement by The Daily Advance’s editorial board, didn’t give the other candidates in the race much of a chance. “That's a fair assessment – and the other voters didn't step out and come forward to counteract that,” she said.

She said she plans to support the candidates who won on Tuesday but also send them a message. “We are not going to have the status quo that's gone on for the last many, many years. We are going to make things happen," she said.

Redding said she wants the victors to carry out her platform of completely developing the Pasquotank riverfront. She said also wants to see the city completely fix its utilities billing problems.

Colbert said she was relieved the campaign is over. She said she does not envision running for public office again, even though many of her supporters have asked her to consider it in 2019.

Colbert, a co-founder of the “Enough is Enough EC” Facebook group, said she only filed as a candidate because she wanted to do something about the city’s utility billing problems.

“I was only running to help those that didn't have a voice. It had nothing to do with running for myself,” she said.

Colbert said she believes “Enough is Enough EC” has been heard from, and that city officials who will serve for the next two years will be aware of the group.

Like Redding, Colbert also wants the city’s billing problems fixed once and for all.

In the 3rd Ward race, Kem Spence, a former councilor, and Rickey King, an incumbent councilor, finished one and two in a four-candidate race that also included Linwood Gallop and incumbent Councilor Michael Brooks, who didn’t file for re-election but decided late to run as a write-in candidate.

Reached Wednesday, Gallop said he probably should have dropped out of the 3rd Ward race when Brooks decided to run as a write-in candidate. Gallop, who openly supported Brooks, believes he may have taken votes away from the councilor.

“That's kind of what I felt like had happened,” Gallop said. “And I did suspect that was a possibility of what happened with us both being in the race.”

Gallop, who’s now run unsuccessfully three times for a council seat, said he likely will run again.

“I do enjoy this politics stuff,” he said.

Neither Spence, King or Brooks could be reached for comment Tuesday or Wednesday for this story.

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