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Currituck winners cite strong supporters, experience

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Incumbent Currituck Board of Education member Janet Rose campaigns outside the polling station at Moyock Elementary School, Tuesday. Rose won a four-year term in Tuesday's election.

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By William F. West and Reggie Ponder
Staff Writers

Thursday, November 8, 2018

CURRITUCK — The winners of Currituck commissioner and school board seats are crediting both strong supporters and their previous government experience for their victories in Tuesday’s election. 

Republican Kevin McCord, who won an at-large seat on the Board of Commissioners, said his long community involvement and previous service on the commission board both played a role in his 6,996-vote victory over Democrat Joe Payne.

McCord, a businessman and patrol sergeant with the Currituck Sheriff’s Office, previously served as a county commissioner from 2012-14. He said he’s been involved in the Currituck community since graduating from high school, either by coaching sports or through volunteering for civic groups.

"Everybody knows that I'm a hard worker,” McCord said Wednesday. “My resume speaks for itself on giving back to the community. So, I think that's what helped me."

A number of voters interviewed Tuesday outside Currituck polling stations who said they voted for McCord said they did so because they either knew him and liked him, or knew of him and liked what they’d heard. 

McCord, who will be sworn in for a four-year term next month, said one of his priorities once he rejoins the commission board will be helping foster better relations between the county and other Currituck government agencies.

"We all live together. We've got to get along," he said.

McCord also wants to push for construction of a major hotel on the lower Currituck mainland. Noting development of the sports complex at Currituck Community Park and the H2OBX waterpark in Harbinger, McCord said many of those visiting Currituck still spend their nights in either Dare or Pasquotank counties. He suggested that provides businesses and governments in those counties with revenues and occupancy tax dollars that should instead be staying in Currituck.

"I want it where you can come to Currituck and spend it all in Currituck, keep it in Currituck," he said.

Payne couldn't be reached for comment about the election on Wednesday.

In one of the two contested races for seats on the Currituck Board of Education, incumbent Janet Rose defeated challenger Josh Bass for the Crawford Township seat, collecting 61 percent of the vote to Bass’ 39 percent. In the other contested race, board Chairman Bill Dobney won re-election to his at-large seat, edging challenger Megan Bottelli by a 50-49 percent margin.  

Rose, a retired educator who was first appointed to the school board in 2016 to fill a vacancy, attributed a large part of her success on Tuesday to supporters and volunteers.

"I had family and friends, former students, and supporters just working for me at every polling station pretty much," she said. "I also had lots of people supporting me before the election ... allowing me to place signs in their yards."

Rose, who taught school for 32 years, also thought her prior experience with the school district was a factor in her victory.

"I've been involved with the schools system since 1983 in one capacity or another as a teacher, as a parent, as a board member," she said, adding that she currently has a child attending the Currituck schools. "I've always been involved. I've always supported the schools. And I think people did realize that I really do love the Currituck County school system and want it to be the best it can be."

Rose said her priorities in her new four-year term will be pushing for expansion of the school district’s trades program and bolstering its fund balance.

Reached Wednesday, Bass expressed disappointment he didn’t win but was philosophical about the outcome.

"That's the way democracy works," he said.

Bass said his campaign for school board had been a positive experience, allowing him to learn more than he knew about how the Currituck school system operates.

"I think I learned a lot about the way the schools system budgets and the inner workings of the schools’ finances. And that was very interesting," he said.

Bass, president of the Currituck Chamber of Commerce, also noted there are other ways to serve the community.  

"For me it won't be elected office,” he said. “But I will continue to work to make a better Currituck."

Asked Wednesday about his successful re-election bid, Dobney said he thought voters supported him because of his experience. A former superintendent of the Currituck County Schools, Dobney has served on the county school board since first winning election in 2010. He’s also served as the board’s chairman since then. 

Even so, Dobney acknowledged he was surprised the race between him and Bottelli was as close as it turned out to be. Dobney received 4,093 votes to Bottelli’s 3,970 — a margin of only 123 votes.

Dobney attributed the close margin to his belief some voters didn't have much information about the candidates.

“What didn't happen in this election is that there usually are a number of forums — and that didn't happen this time,” Dobney said. “And I think there were a lot of newcomers to the county who didn't know either one of us.”

Bottelli couldn't be reached for comment on Wednesday.

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