07/18/12 — Goldsboro election held a few surprise races, close calls

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Goldsboro election held a few surprise races, close calls

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 18, 2012 1:46 PM

It's come eight months late, but the citizens of Goldsboro have now selected their new governing body in some of the most bizarre and unprecedented election circumstances in the state's history.

More than 3,400 Wayne County voters cast ballots in Tuesday's election, with the majority -- 2,550 -- voting in the city's municipal election to select Goldsboro's mayor and city council.

According to unofficial results, Mayor Al King won the mayoral race by a sizable margin over Henry Jinnette to earn his third term as the leader of Goldsboro's governing board. King was appointed to lead the city following the death of Hal Plonk in January 2002 and won re-election in 2003 and again in 2007.

Mayor Pro Tempore Chuck Allen also kept his seat, receiving 13 more votes than write-in votes cast in the District 5 election.

In the District 4 race, incumbent Rev. Charles Williams fought off challenger Tandalayo Clark by 10 votes to earn his fifth term, while William Goodman will once again serve as District 3's representative on the City Council after defeating Ben Farlow.

Michael Headen will represent District 1 for another term -- his second -- after a lopsided victory over challenger Kyle Pritchard.

Gene Aycock defeated Fran Kasey in District 6 in a race between political newcomers, while Bill Broadaway, who ran unopposed in District 2, will also serve his first term in public office.

The election results are all unofficial until verified by the Wayne County Board of Elections, but those who win office in the city of Goldsboro will serve abbreviated terms due to a litany of factors that delayed the elections which were originally scheduled for November 2011.

The city's elected officials will serve terms that are roughly three years and four months instead of the typical four years, with the next municipal election scheduled to be held in November 2015.

Data from the 2010 U.S. Census showed there was cause for the city to realign its districts last summer, so the city adjusted its district lines to divide its population of 36,437 into six districts -- most notably by increasing the geographical size of District 4 while shrinking the land area within District 6 due to population shifts.

Because Wayne County is subject to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, any realignment of districts must be approved by the Department of Justice to ensure the existence of minority districts. The municipal election was put on hold to allow the DOJ adequate time to review the maps and preclearance for the districts was granted in November.

Due to the city's charter, a primary is required in any case where more than two candidates file for the same office, so that primary was set to coincide with the state's primary election on May 8. The general election, in the case that three candidates filed for an office, was scheduled for June 26.

Multiple candidates filed for mayor and the District 4 seat, necessitating the primary, but a newly enacted federal law requiring military and citizens overseas to have ballots available to them at least 60 days ahead of any federal election led to another delay in selecting the city's new leaders.

The implementation of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act meant if any of North Carolina's 13 U.S. Congressional District primary candidates requested a second primary, that primary would need to be pushed up 10 weeks to July 17. In that case, the Goldsboro election would be held that same day.

Secondary primaries -- which can be called for if no candidate in the first primary receives at least 40 percent of the votes -- were requested in three Republican Congressional and necessary in four Republican races for Council of State and the Democratic primary race for Commissioner of Labor.

Following the State Board of Elections' official canvass of the results in mid-May, the city finally had a date for its municipal election, but the circumstances would get a little weirder before the polls opened Tuesday as a state law, effective July 1, removed a portion of District 1 from the city's jurisdiction meaning about 1,100 voters who took part in the city's primary would not be eligible to vote in the general election after July 1.

Two voters from that area did take advantage of one-stop voting in advance of that cutoff date, selecting leaders in a city they would no longer be a part of by the time ballots were counted, but the vast majority of those voters elected to stay home until the law went into effect.

And so the electorate of Goldsboro chose its representatives Tuesday in an election held more than a month after the City Council passed the 2012-13 budget that went into effect 16 days ago, but the final irony will come Monday, when the lame duck members of the Council will represent their city for the final time in their extended terms -- nine months after the original election date and six days after the public chose their replacements.

The swearing in of the new public officials is expected to occur at the Council's August 6 council meeting.