Two Republicans, one Democrat fill three county commission seats

by Kelly Corbett
Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Staff photo by Allison Potter 

Jonathan Barfield and Rick Catlin await election results at the New Hanover County Government Center on Tuesday night, Nov. 6. Barfield was re-elected to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners, and Catlin was elected to N.C. House District 20.

Two Republicans and one Democrat took the majority of the votes for three open seats on the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners in unofficial results released from 43 precincts on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Democrat Jonathan Barfield Jr. (17.23 percent) current chairman of the board, will serve his second term. Republicans Beth Dawson (18.26 percent) and Woody White (18.65 percent) will take on the county commission seats for the first time.

Another county commissioner seat will open as Commissioner Rick Catlin moves on to the District 20 seat for the North Carolina House of Representatives. Catlin, who was elected to the county commission in 2010, won 64.10 percent of the votes in his race against Democrat Tom Gale.

The same procedure will be followed to fill Catlin’s seat as was followed in the (unsuccessful) process to fill the seat of Ted Davis, who resigned to fill an appointment to the N.C. House. The Republican Party makes the recommendation, which is then voted on by the board.

Four of the six current county commission candidates — Barfield, Dawson, Robert Murray (13.57) and Robert Zapple (15.47) — watched and waited with family and friends as unofficial results came on the screens in the New Hanover County Government Center.

The four candidates said they had been out at the polls all day campaigning across the county in the cold, rainy weather.

After the results came in, Barfield said he felt great, relieved, humbled and ready to keep on working.

“I think we’re going to be great,” Barfield said about the new board members he had referred to as top-notch folks as his running mates earlier on Tuesday.

He said one of the first things the new board would tackle is the proposed contract with Covanta Energy for refurbishing the incinerator.

White, a Republican and local attorney, won the largest percentage of the 280,722 votes cast.

Dawson said before the election she was not going to celebrate a win until all of the precincts had been received. Election Day was also Dawson’s birthday. 

“I’m very humbled to have received the vote,” she said, adding that she took a majority of the votes by reaching out to voters and being active in the community for 25 years.

Building consensus among the board is what Dawson said she wants to work on first.

Watching the early voting results slowly slide down the screen at approximately 9 p.m., Zapple looked at the close early voting results for the county commission race and said all candidates ran a strong, good campaign.

“What’s lacking is what happened today,” Zapple said. “It’s going to come down to the final precinct. … Name recognition has really been key as a first-time candidate.”

After the results came in, Zapple said he and his team ran as strong a campaign as they could.

“I wish the new commissioners the best of luck,” he said.

Dr. Derrick Hickey, a Repub-lican and current New Hanover County Board of Education member, received 16.81 percent following behind Barfield by slightly more than 1,000 votes. 

Win, lose or draw, Murray said he was going to hold a pig pickin’ in the spring. As for running again in the future, he said he would have to talk with his wife, Ulrike.

Before the precinct results, he said he had been told by several people that running in an election takes more than one shot.

“I feel great,” Murray said. “I feel like I ran a good race. … Being my first rodeo, name recognition is where it’s at and money.”

The election canvass will be held Friday, Nov. 16, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. New board members will be sworn in on Dec. 3.

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