05/25/08 — Duplin runoff might not determine winner

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Duplin runoff might not determine winner

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 25, 2008 2:01 AM

KENANSVILLE -- Based on recent history, not having any opponent in the November general election does not necessarily mean that a candidate in Duplin County can count on being elected.

Currently there are several Duplin County candidates for the boards of education and commissioners who do not face challengers in November.

Two years ago Cary Turner of Mount Olive waged a successful unaffiliated campaign to unseat then commissioner Larry Howard of the Pleasant Grove community southeast of Mount Olive.

The current contest for the Democratic nomination for the District 1 seat on the board of commissioners has yet to be decided and will require a runoff next month.

Originally a four-way contest, Frances Parks of Calypso led the field, but fell just short of the 40 percent plurality needed to win the seat outright. Second-place finisher Jimmy Dixon of Mount Olive called for the runoff that will be held Tuesday, June 24.

The runoff will be open to all eligible Democratic voters as well as unaffiliated voters who cast ballots in the Democratic primary and also to those who did not vote. But, unaffiliated voters who voted in the Republican primary will not be eligible.

There is no Republican challenger in November.

However, there are two ways that another candidate could end up on the November ballot -- by petitioning the board of elections to run as unaffiliated, as Turner did, or as a write-in.

In both cases a potential candidate would need to gather the signatures of four percent of the registered voters in their district. Or, if they are planning to run countywide, four percent of the county's total number of registered voters.

Currently there are 4,855 registered voters in District 1 meaning a potential candidate would need just 195 signatures to secure a spot on the November ballot.

Countywide four percent of 27,119 registered voters would be 1,085 signatures.

Suzanne Southerland, director of the Duplin County Board of Elections, noted the number of voters is constantly changing.

To run as unaffiliated, a person must have the signatures and file their petition for candidacy by noon on the last Friday in June -- the Friday after the runoff.

A candidate who meets the requirements will have their name placed on the November ballot as being unaffiliated.

Anyone who plans to wage a valid write-in campaign must meet all of the requirements and file their petition no later than the 90th day prior to the election. This year that deadline falls on Wednesday, August 6.

The write-in candidate's name does not appear on the ballot. Instead there will be a line for voters to write in the individual's name.