Voters elect likely candidates to fill three commissioner spots

While most races in North Carolina won’t be decided until November, voters in Union County chose the three people who will likely join, or remain on, the board of county commissioners at the end of the year in this week’s primary.

Incumbent Jerry Simpson along with candidates Lance Simpson and Stony Rushing came out on top in this year’s primary Tuesday, May 6, which included eight candidates. The three will be the only names appearing on the ballot in November, as there are no Democratic candidates filed to run, though a run-off election could be requested due to the tight margin separating the winners from the runners-up.

After months of campaigning, both Jerry Simpson and Rushing thanked their supporters for volunteering and helping with their campaigns when reached for comment Wednesday, May 7.

“I had a lot of volunteers, a lot of support, a lot of long hours folks worked to get the word out,” Jerry Simpson, who is currently the vice-chairman of the board, said. “It’s a team effort. Without the support of all those involved it wouldn’t have happened.”

And now that the primaries are behind them – the only candidate who could challenge the three in the general election could be a write-in candidate – all three are ready to move forward and prepare to take on their roles as county commissioners and work to find solutions to many ongoing issues throughout the county.

“I plan to spend a lot of time with the school board trying to understand their budget,” Rushing said. “I’ve already got a four-year degree in county finances, I just need to really educate myself on the school system and their budgeting.”

Rushing was previously on the county board from 2002 to 2006 until he lost re-election and decided to take a break from politics. After seeing some of the decisions the current board has made, the lawsuit with Union County Public Schools and other issues, Rushing decided now was the time to step back into the role of commissioner.

“I knew a lot of history and I was watching things happen with the lawsuit and the redistricting and it concerned me about the way things were going,” he said. “… It’s something very hard to explain unless you’ve lived it.”

Jerry Simpson, who has been on the board since 2010, said his re-election is confirmation that the citizens in Union County not only support the decisions and votes he has already made but also agree with his future plans for the
county.

The results are still unofficial and will not be announced officially until Tuesday, May 13, John Whitley, the director of the Union County Board of Elections, said.

Although results currently show Jerry Simpson (6,703 votes), Lance Simpson (4,431 votes) and Rushing (4,279 votes) as the front-runners, the candidates who fell in fourth- and fifth-place standings – Tracy Kuehler (4,187 votes) and Kim Ormiston (4,041 votes) – can submit a written request for a run-off election against Lance Simpson and Rushing, Whitley said. If the request is submitted the board of elections is required to hold the run-off election. The deadline to submit a request is May 15, a Thursday, at noon. Kuehler, speaking to Union County Weekly on Wednesday, said she and Ormiston had not decided whether to call for a run-off election yet. No other candidates are able to submit a request for a run-off
election.

“The board will not have a runoff election unless those candidates submit a written request for it,” Whitley said.

Union County Board of Education also will be on the Nov. 4 ballot, with filing open from noon on June 27 to July 25. There are four seats up for grabs – Districts 3, 4 and 6 and one at-large seat – in the upcoming election.

Lance Simpson did not respond to requests to comment by Union County Weekly’s deadline.

 

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