Some local elections, including mayor, too close to call

Published 11:52 pm Tuesday, November 6, 2012

With the results of more than 5,700 absentee ballots hanging in the balance, very little was known Tuesday night about the outcome of local elections.

In the mayor’s race, incumbent Linda Johnson led her closest challenger, Leroy Bennett, by 1,044 votes, a total that could easily be swung by more than five times that number of absentee votes.

Neither of the frontrunners had much to say upon seeing the closeness of the results. Both held parties for their supporters, where folks watched national news for the results of the presidential race and tallied up local votes as precincts reported.

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“We’re just … wait and see,” Johnson said around 11:30 p.m. at her party at the First Lady event venue in downtown. The final precinct, Huntersville, did not report its totals until around 11:15 p.m., more than four hours after the polls closed.

At his party at the Magnolia Ruritan Club, Bennett said he also did not want to make comments before knowing the results of absentee votes.

“I feel good about the race and I feel very confident and I think it was a fairly decent-run race,” he said. “If it’s good news for me, then I will see how I will react at that point. Right now I think it will be an enjoyable reaction, and we hope for the best.”

The absentee ballots will be counted Wednesday. Electoral Board Chairman Kenneth Carpenter said Tuesday night there was about 6-8 hours of work left to do to count the remaining ballots.

Some City Council races were similarly too close to call.

In the Nansemond borough, challenger Lue Ward was winning over incumbent Robert Barclay by a mere 27 votes. Almost 780 absentee votes were cast in that borough.

In the Sleepy Hole borough, Roger Fawcett led Kevin Alston by 581 votes. A third contender, Raymond Batton brought in 1,429 votes.

With only 714 absentee votes cast in the borough, a Fawcett win seemed likely on Tuesday night.

“It’s a great time in Suffolk, and I’m very humbled by everybody that supported me,” said Fawcett, who attended Johnson’s party. “It is now time to go to work.”

Councilman Curtis Milteer, who was unopposed, won a ninth term in office for the Whaleyville borough.

The only contested School Board race, in the Whaleyville borough, was being led by incumbent Phyllis Byrum by 558 votes. Almost 800 absentee votes were cast in that borough, making a win by challenger Marion Flood possible but unlikely.

Byrum said Tuesday night she hopes to continue to serve “my community and all of the students within the school system.”

Diane Foster was unopposed for a second term on the Sleepy Hole seat on School Board, and newcomer Judith Brooks Buck won election unopposed for the Nansemond borough.