11/03/10 — Flowers, Pridgen claim victories

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Flowers, Pridgen claim victories

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 3, 2010 1:46 PM

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Abbigail Overfelt

Arnold Flowers celebrates his victory in the race for the 5th District seat on the Wayne County Board of Education Tuesday night with his granddaughters, Mallory Flowers, 3, and Mackenzie Flowers, 1. Flowers defeated incumbent George Moye.

Former county commissioner Arnold Flowers defeated veteran school board member George Moye to represent District 5, while incumbent Rick Pridgen held onto his seat in District 6.

Moye, who will celebrate 22 years on the board in December, garnered 1,900 votes, or 48 percent, while Flowers received 51 percent of the votes, or 2,048.

Pridgen, first elected to the board in 2002, received 58 percent of the votes in his district, with 2,553 votes. His opponent, Trebor Jackson, received 1,756 or 40 percent.

Flowers, reached at Republican headquarters soon after all the precinct tallies were in, said he was pleased with the results.

"I feel good. Obviously I ran to win," he said. "I have heard a voice that the people want some kind of change. I just need to get on board with what that change is. I'm going to try to do that and try to do a good job.

"I didn't come into this with an agenda, but the bottom line with me is teaching kids how to read and do math. That's what I said from the beginning."

Flowers said he will do his best to be an effective board member. Some of that entails being a good listener.

He said he has already heard repeatedly how most teachers dip into their own pockets to supplement needs in their classroom. That doesn't seem to be appropriate, Flowers said.

"I know there's some account-ability on that sort of thing," he said. "I'm going to find out what all the factors are.

"When I got elected on the board of commissioners, I thought I had a firm position on things. But once I got all the facts, I had to change my mind. When you get elected to office, those facts can be gathered."

Flowers said his four years on the commission will be advantageous as he enters his new role.

"I was quite a rookie, I came out of the woods," he said. "I'm a timber man. But evidently the Lord wants me to do this now and I want to be fair to everybody concerned.

"My opponent, I certainly didn't embarrass him (by the win margin). He had a lot of people that still believed in him, but evidently, looking at things that are going on, the whole country is ready for some changes. Maybe I can help with that on a local basis in a small way."

Moye said several factors likely contributed to his loss.

"I think the Republican wave propelled (Flowers), he's registered as a Republican," he said. "I think the only issues in this campaign were people wanted new blood. ... Maybe I was out of touch with the voters in District 5 because I really didn't realize they wanted their school board member to work with Rev. Barber to change district lines and to create diversity by busing."

The Rev. Dr. William Barber of Goldsboro, the state's NAACP president, has been a proponent of redrawing district lines. Moye said he never felt that he was in a position to negotiate changing district lines to achieve racial balance.

"Maybe the public, or those in District 5's minds have changed on that," Moye said. "It's always been my philosophy that I don't create policies that are contrary to community schools as I have always believed that District 5 and the people of Wayne County supported community schools."

Moye said he has always been an advocate for community schools, from the time he was elected, and he did not feel that held true for Flowers.

"His philosophies do not support community schools," Moye said.

Pridgen, current chairman of the school board, said he was happy with the outcome and looking forward to a good night's sleep.

He also praised his opponent, with whom he has shared many conversations in recent months about the school system. The two struck up a friendship, even spending a portion of Election Day chatting at one of the polls.

"I'd just like to say that Trebor and I had great respect for one another during the campaign," Pridgen said Tuesday night. "I told his wife after he left (the polling place), I wished him well but I wished me weller."

"I admired him for running the campaign on the up and up ... that told me a lot about his character. He ran a really good campaign and I really appreciated it."

Pridgen said he was grateful for the public support and the opportunity to continue serving on the school board for another four years.

"I really do appreciate the people of Wayne County still wanting me to support them and support the children and represent them on the board," he said. "I know we have got a change with Arnold Flowers coming on board but I think I will be able to work with Arnold very well.

"I hate to see George go off the board but the people in Wayne County, or District 5, spoke. We're certainly looking forward to working with Arnold and welcoming him to the board."

Jackson did not return calls for comment.