11/20/07 — It's official: Headen wins seat in District 1

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It's official: Headen wins seat in District 1

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 20, 2007 1:46 PM

With the results unchanged after Monday's recount, the race for the Goldsboro City Council District 1 seat came down once again to two votes -- 159 to 157 -- as Michael Headen remained on top.

It was a result that while disappointing, Frankie Anna Lewis said she could accept.

She does not plan to challenge the recount process -- a protest that must be filed by 5 p.m. today, otherwise the results will become official on Wednesday.

"I don't see anything that went wrong. It was interesting and I'm satisfied. We just wanted the officials to actually look at the votes because there could have been one that slipped through," she said after watching the ballots being counted for nearly two hours.

They were counted first by the tabulation machines again and then manually by a bi-partisan team of four precinct workers.

Afterward she was overheard telling Headen that she would remain involved in the community and that she looked forward to working with him -- but that she knows he has "his work cut out for him."

"He's my councilman. He will be hearing from me a lot," Mrs. Lewis said. "I believe he is very sincere, and I think he'll look forward to that. When I come with questions and concerns, I also come with suggestions about how to make things better."

For his part, Headen was simply glad to have the election finally over.

"It was a very close race and I have nothing but the utmost respect for Frankie and Carl (her husband) Lewis. They are two wonderful Christian human beings," he said. "I'm just trying to take all this in right now. It's been a journey."

And, he added, he hopes that Mrs. Lewis and her supporters will remain involved and come to him with their thoughts, suggestions and ideas.

"I look forward to working with them and talking with them and hearing their concerns. Frankie and I, we have similar ideas for what we'd like to see for Goldsboro and District 1," he said.

Also recounted Monday night was the result of the vote for the fifth seat on the Southwestern Wayne Sanitary District board.

There, write-in candidate Jimmy Cox challenged incumbent Billy Kornegay II's three-vote -- 41 to 38 -- lead.

Cox explained he was doing so because he believed, after talking to several voters, that not all the ballots with his name on them had been counted.

The problem, he said, was that some of the people who voted for him did not fill in the oval beside the write-in line.

Therefore, interim county elections director Erin Burridge confirmed, those ballots would have been considered under-voted by the tabulators and bundled with the regularly voted ballots and not counted with the rest of the write-ins.

During the recount, the machine results remained the same as on Election Day.

The results of the hand-eye recount, however, pushed Cox ahead by four votes -- 45 to 41.

The ballots were counted three times by the bi-partisan, four-member panel.

"What we had were some write-ins where the voters didn't follow the instructions and mark the bubbles," county Board of Elections Chairman Gene Riddle said. "But we're going to count the vote because the voter clearly wrote in his name."

North Carolina, Ms. Burridge explained, is a voter-intent state -- meaning that if the panel can confidently determine a voter's intent during a hand-eye recount, that ballot can be counted.

Although he wasn't present at the recount, it was a result that nonetheless was pleasing to Cox.

"That's what we thought was going on," he said. "I'm real happy with that."

Now, he continued, he is eager to get down to business and begin helping out the district.

Kornegay could not be reached for comment.

All in all, Riddle said that he was pleased with how smoothly everything went.

The process, he continued, not only served to highlight the importance of voters following directions, but also the fact that the board is going to do everything in its power to make sure every vote is still counted even if they don't.

"Every vote is being counted," he said. "It'd make it easier for us if they followed directions, but we really don't mind."