06/25/08 — Parks takes slot in Duplin commission race 730-667

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Parks takes slot in Duplin commission race 730-667

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 25, 2008 1:47 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Surrounded by her family and supporters, Frances Parks of Calypso watched as the tally from Tuesday's runoff handed her a 730-to-667 victory over Jimmy Dixon of Mount Olive for the Democratic nomination for the District 1 seat on the Duplin County Board of Commissioners.

Mrs. Parks and a small crowd had gathered in the auditorium of the N.C. Cooperative Extension Service building to watch the returns.

The district's four precincts were split between the two candidates.

Mrs. Parks posted large wins over Dixon in Calypso, 219 to 27, and Faison, 218 to 34. Dixon handily won Kenansville 193 to 47 and Warsaw 233 to 74.

He edged Mrs. Parks 180 to 172 in one-stop voting.

It was a back-and-forth battle with Dixon leading by just over 100 votes when the Faison results came in to push Mrs. Parks over the top. Mrs. Parks captured 52.25 percent of the vote and Dixon had 47.75 percent.

Dixon called for the runoff following the May primary when Mrs. Parks fell just short of the 40-percent plurality needed for the win in the four-person race.

Tuesday's results will not be official until canvassed by the board of elections on Tuesday, July 1 when provisional ballots will be tallied, too.

As of presstime on Wednes-day, Duplin County Board of Elections Director Suzanne Southerland said she did not have a final count on the number of provisional ballots. However, she said she does not think there will be enough to affect the outcome of the race.

Mrs. Parks, a retired educator, faces no announced opposition in November. However, the door is still open for someone to file as an unaffiliated or write-in candidate.

Barring that, Mrs. Parks will be sworn into office during the board's first meeting in December. She said that gives her "many months" to think about what she will do in once in office. Until that time she will continue her regular routine of community service work, she said.

Mrs. Parks replaces incumbent District 1 Commissioner L.S. Guy of Faison who did not seek re-election.

She told supporters Tues-day that she will fight for the residents of Duplin County.

"I promised one thing to every person I met -- that when I have to vote on an issue I would know the research and that I will not be a flip-flopper," she said. "I will take that research and apply it to the people of Duplin County and how it will affect them and, with the good Lord's help, I will always vote for what I believe is right for the people of Duplin County. I will hold firm to that. I do not care if call you call me a politician. I want to be the lady who cared enough to serve the people of Duplin County and that is my goal."

Mrs. Parks said she was not surprised by the election's outcome.

"I really felt like we ran a good race and that people had responded," she said. "I was hoping with all of my heart it would turn out that way."

Mrs. Parks reiterated her earlier comments about researching issues before voting.

"I told people often that I filed so that I can make life better for the people of Duplin County," she said.

She said she does not consider herself a politician, but rather a person who has cared for people for all of her life.

Mrs. Parks, who has attended many of the board's meetings, said she has been following the current funding controversy between the school board and county commissioners.

The school board has used a state law to contest county funding, forcing the two boards into mediation and possibly into court.

"The money is an issue for county commissioners and the facilities are an issue for county commissioners, but I personally believe there are problems other than money and facilities in Duplin County's education system," she said.

She did not elaborate. But in prior board meetings, Guy and Commissioner Reginald Wells have said personalities and politics are factors.

Dixon, a farmer, came in shortly after the final tally was announced and congratulated Mrs. Parks on her victory.

"I just got through congratulating Frances," he said. "I think both of us worked hard and I certainly wish Frances and the county commissioners well."

Dixon said he plans to stay involved and will continue to attend commissioners' meetings.