11/07/12 — Radford, Cannon, Smith earn spots on board

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Radford, Cannon, Smith earn spots on board

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on November 7, 2012 1:46 PM

Two incumbents and a newcomer will fill the three openings on the Wayne County Board of Education.

Eddie Radford, current chairman of the board, won his bid for a second term, this time against a fellow board member. The former teacher, coach and administrator has been on the board since 2008.

His challenger had been Len Henderson, appointed to the District 2 seat in 2010 to complete the remainder of the term vacated by Shirley Sims.

Gene Baker, while not on the ballot, had filed the necessary paperwork to be an official write-in candidate after joining the campaign at the end of October. A former teacher and principal, the actual number of votes credited to Baker will remain unknown until a canvass is done.

Radford won by a nearly two-to-one margin, receiving 25,619 votes, or 63.97 percent, while Henderson had 12,904 votes, or 32.22 percent. Veteran board member Thelma Smith held onto the District 3 seat she has occupied since 1996. The former business teacher and guidance counselor defeated Charles Wright in his second attempt for the seat, having lost to Mrs. Smith in 2008.

She won with 4,718 votes, or 61.6 percent of the 13 precincts weighing in, while Wright received 2,926 votes, or 38.2 percent.

The District 2 seat will be filled by newcomer D.B. Cannon, formerly a contender for the seat along with Henderson and Ven Faulk.

Faulk was also a candidate prior to that, having run for the at-large seat in 2008 against Radford.

Election results showed Cannon earning 52.6 percent of the vote, with 2,868 ballots cast in his favor, while Faulk had 2,559 votes, or 46.9 percent.

Radford chose to keep his remarks after the election positive.

"It was a tough race. Even though the margin of victory was very large, I always felt it was going to be closer than that," he said. "It was a mixture of everyone voting for me -- Democrats, Republicans, minorities -- and I got quite a bit of votes from every group. That makes me feel good.

"It kind of tells me that over my career that I did make an impact on a lot of people and that's very, very important to me. I want to express my gratitude to everyone who did vote. In some cases, I know that that was a hard decision to make. I appreciate each and every vote that I got."

Radford said he will continue to work hard for the citizens, and especially the children, of Wayne County.

"I just hope that in the coming sessions or the coming years, the board of education is able to mesh better than we have," he said. "I'm looking forward to working with the board of commissioners. Hopefully, we will be able to get some things done educationally for our county. There's some much-needed mending that we need to do but I think we can do it."

Henderson did not return calls for comment.

Baker said, "I figured I was going to lose. I just thought I'd give it a sporting try.

"The odds are always stacked against the write-in candidate. I thought I'd give the people a different choice. But I'm proud of our Republicans."

Mrs. Smith said she was "really happy" about the outcome of her campaign.

"I really, really wanted to have one more term to help finish some things that we have started with the facilities and a lot of other programs that I am really, really excited about," she said. "The only reason I wanted to be on this board or even got on this board was to see how far I could go in helping to make a difference in the lives of these children.

"I have spent all of my adult life in the Wayne County Public Schools. It's nothing but a passion."

The former educator said she could have been content to settle into retirement, but a "love for the children" compelled her to try to make a difference, even though she has recently had some health problems.

"I felt like once I went down to the Board of Elections to apply again to run for this last term, I really thought I was going to get much better," she said. "Well, I am much better. I've fought this cancer and I'm cancer-free, OK?"

There are still a few obstacles before her, including becoming reliant on a wheelchair to get around.

"But I'm in my right mind -- I can talk, I can listen, I can hear, I can think. If I can't walk, there are other mechanisms I can use to get around," she said. "I just want to be able to say that I have given all that I can give.

"This is going to be my last term, but now that I have been given this last opportunity, I'm going to do all I can to serve Wayne County well."

Wright did not return calls for comment.

Cannon was keeping up with the results as they poured in from all sides -- "over the phone, over the Internet and on Facebook" -- but was admittedly still in shock when it all came down in his favor.

"I just hope that I can be worthy of the trust of those who voted for me, and I hope that I can really represent District 2 and all of Wayne County with the children's best interest at heart," he said.

He applauded his opponent for running a clean campaign and said he had appreciated conversations shared with Faulk.

"I'm new at this, but I'm very excited to serve and that's what it's all about," he said. "I'm ready to go, ready to serve Wayne County."

When contacted, Faulk declined comment, except to congratulate Cannon.

"I know he'll do a good job for the children," he said.