By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Early voting continues this week and ends Saturday, with the partisan primary election set for Tuesday, May 17.
As of Monday this week, a total of 1,499 people had cast a ballot during the one-stop early voting period, according to Hoke Elections Director Chassidy Chavis.
There are two polling places open to serve voters who’d rather get their ballot in early. The first site is located at the Hoke County Board of Elections Office (voting held in the commissioners meeting room), inside the Pratt Building at 227 North Main Street in downtown Raeford. The second site is at the Rockfish Community Building at 2749 Lindsay Road in Rockfish. Both sites are open for early voting and voters may visit either site.
Early voting will end at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 14, the last Saturday before Election Day.
Election day is Tuesday, May 17 for the primary election. The county’s usual polling sites will open May 17 for in-person voting. All 15 precincts will be open on election day.
For information on voting or other election related matters, contact the Hoke County Board of Elections at (910) 875-9062, or visit online at https://www.hokecounty.net/235/Elections.
Three seats on the Hoke County Board of Commissioners, the offices of Hoke County Sheriff and Clerk of Court, three seats on the Hoke County Board of Education and the county’s representation in the state and federal legislatures are up for election this year.
However, some of those races won’t appear on the primary ballot. School board and other nonpartisan elections have not held a filing period yet – that will happen this summer. Some races only saw one person from each political party file to run, so those races will not be determined until the General Election.
The primary election will allow registered Republican and Democrat voters, and Unaffiliated voters who choose to vote on a partisan ballot, to narrow down the field of candidates of each party. The winners of the primary from each party will go on to face one another in November.
Past and current allegations
In a contentious election year, several of the candidates seeking election to the Hoke County Board of Commissioners have past charges against them on their records. One candidate is currently involved in a court case.
Only felony convictions are required to be reported, as felonies can affect a person’s eligibility to seek office in North Carolina. Misdemeanor offenses do not prevent a person from seeking office.
The following matters are described in public records, and several have been previously reported in the News-Journal:
•Carlton Barber, Democrat, running for commission: Barber is currently facing an allegation of misdemeanor stalking, and is due in court May 25. Barber denied the allegation, and alleged that it was a political attempt to discredit him.
•Lent Carr, Democrat, running for commission: Carr filed a felony disclosure form, disclosing mail fraud and bank fraud convictions from 1999. Carr served time in prison and had his citizenship rights restored after he was released.
•Tony Hunt, Democrat, incumbent commissioner seeking reelection: In 2013 Hunt was arrested on multiple charges related to an alleged domestic incident involving his estranged wife. During the court case Hunt took a plea deal, and pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of assault by pointing a gun, communicating threats and resisting an officer. Other charges against him were dropped.
Harry Southerland, Democrat, incumbent commissioner seeking reelection, did not face criminal charges but was disbarred in June 2004 following a disciplinary hearing before the North Carolina State Bar. The matter involved alleged misappropriation of client funds while Southerland served as Hoke County Attorney. Southerland told the News-Journal in 2013 when he first ran for office that he had made mistakes, learned from them and asked for forgiveness for them as he moved forward.
There are a total of 10 people – five Democrats, and five Republicans, on the primary partisan ballots seeking election to the Hoke County Board of Commissioners. However, one candidate – Republican candidate Isaac Holder – sought to have his name removed from the ballot. He did not attend an emergency meeting of the county elections board held earlier this year for that purpose, and his name was included on the ballot.
The candidates seeing election to the commission are Democrats Carlton Barber, Lent Carr, Tony Hunt (incumbent), Harry Southerland (incumbent), Allen Thomas Jr. (incumbent); Republicans Johnny Boyles, Stephanie Carter, David Frump, Chris Holland. Isaac Holder is also on the ballot as a Republican.