11/10/04 — It's over! -- No election outcomes change

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It's over! -- No election outcomes change

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on November 10, 2004 2:03 PM

The Wayne County Board of Elections and Elections Director Gary Sims read the final numbers back and forth to each other Tuesday morning, double-checking for any error.

The totals in race for the commissioners' at-large seat never varied. It was always, "Atlas Price, 1,020; Hal Keck, 811."

Keck had needed at least 160 votes in his favor when the provisional ballots were tallied. Instead, Price had added to his advantage.

As the news sunk in, Keck rose from his seat on what had been informally the Republican side of the room and crossed over to Price.

"I would say that's official. Congratulations," Keck said as the men warmly shook hands.

Price, a Democrat, finished with 19,998 votes, or 50.46 percent of the countywide vote. Keck, a Republican, received 19,630, or 49.54 percent.

The provisional ballots also settled the other commissioner race that had been in doubt. The final results put Roland "Bud" Gray, a Democrat, in the District 5 seat with a 97-vote win over Republican Ed Wharton.

Despite the narrow decisions, everyone was smiling at the end, happy, if for no other reason, that it was over.

"We gave them a good run," said Wharton, the county GOP chairman, who was also a candidate. "That's as good a contest as we've given Atlas."

Even though Democrats will now have a 5-2 margin on the county board, Republican candidates carried Wayne County in the presidential, Senate and gubernatorial races.

Price was more relieved than happy, he said.

"I want to congratulate Hal Keck on running a good, clean campaign," he said. "I'd also like to thank my supporters for their votes and the confidence they have placed in me. I will try to do my best for them."

As for Keck, he said he was happy to have proven "that Wayne County now has a two-party system."

He also hinted that he might run again. "I'm putting my signs in storage," he said.

The provisional ballots only added 286 votes to the District 5 totals, which made it hard for Wharton to have made up the 79 votes he trailed on Election Night.

"I felt like it was really an uphill battle," Wharton said. "I didn't really expect to change things around. I don't live in fantasy land."

Gray was the only one in the two races not to wait out the results at the Board of Elections' building on South William Street.

"I've tried to stay busy," he said in a telephone interview later. "I was worried -- I would have hated to let my supporters down."

Board praised

One thing that united the parties was their endorsements of how the Board of Elections conducted both the Nov. 2 election and the provisional ballots.

"It was the best job I've ever seen them do," Wharton said. "Every point that they brought up was legitimate."

Price added, "I want to thank the board, Gary Sims and his staff for the way they handled themselves throughout this."

And Keck added, "The Board of Elections did a terrific job, from the board members down to the poll workers. ... And did we ever get a blessing when we hired Gary Sims."

After problems arose in both the 2000 and 2002 elections, Sims was hired as elections director in June 2003. A former investigator for the State Board of Elections, he was billed as someone who would improve the system.

The board did have problems with the city's elections last fall, which ultimately led to a new election in one district. But no complaints have been filed about the Nov. 2 election, nor the counting of ballots.

County totals

The following are the final, official vote totals for Wayne County races, followed by the local tallies in selected national and state races:

Board of Commissioners

District 1: Andy Anderson (R), 6,209.

District 2: J.D. Evans (D), 3,492.

District 3: John Bell (D), 4,512.

District 4: Mark Hood (D), 3,024; Efton Sager (R), 4,248.

District 5: Roland "Bud" Gray (D), 3,328; Ed Wharton (R), 3,231.

District 6: Monroe "Jack" Best (D), 4,225; Roger Bedford (R), 3,330.

At-large: Atlas Price (D), 19,998; Hal Keck (R), 19,630.

Board of Education

District 2: Shirley Faison Sims, 2,964; write-in candidates, 12.

District 3: Thelma Smith, 3,768; write-ins, 20.

At-large: Pete Gurley, 18,771; Joseph "Joe" Hackett, 12,193; write-ins, 72.

Register of Deeds

Lois J. Mooring (D), 21,233; Chris West (R), 18,588.

Soil and Water District

Board of Supervisors

Ben E. Rollins, 14,366; Jesse Jernigan 11,951.

N.C. Senate

5th District: John Kerr (D), 16,974; Tony Moore (R), 9,533.

12th District: Fred Smith (R), 10,218.

N.C. House

10th District: Stephen LaRoque (R), 2,732; James D. "Lew" Llewellyn (D), 1,566.

11th District: Louis Pate (R), 20,120.

21st District: Larry Bell (D), 6,735.

President/Vice President

George W. Bush/Dick Cheney (R), 24,883; John Kerry/John Edwards (R), 15,076; Michael Badnarik/Richard Campagna (Libertarian), 71; Ralph Nader (write-in), 16.

U.S. Senate

Richard Burr (R), 23,026; Erskine Bowles (D), 17,116; Tom Bailey (Libertarian), 318.

U.S. House

1st District: G.K. Butterfield (D), 9,650; Greg Dority (R), 6,989.

3rd District: Walter B. Jones Jr. (R), 17,372; Roger Eaton (D), 5,547.


Mike Easley (D), 20,652; Patrick Ballantine (R), 19,440; Barbara Howe (Libertarian), 427.

Schools Superintendent

Bill Fletcher, 20,524 (R); June S. Atkinson (D), 18,040.

Commissioner of Agriculture

Steve Troxler (R), 19,860; Britt Cobb (D), 19,179.

State Auditor

Leslie "Les" Merritt (R), 20,428; Ralph Campbell (D), 18,307.

For local returns in other races, go to www.waynegov.com/boe.