Incumbents return to commission, sheriff’s office, newcomers join school board

By Catharin Shepard • Staff writer • Hoke voters returned incumbents to the county commission and sheriff’s office, and chose three new members for school board in the 2022 general election.

Incumbent Hoke County Commissioners Tony Hunt, Harry Southerland and Allen Thomas, all Democrats, were voted back in for four-year terms over Republican candidates Johnny Boyles, David Frump and Chris Holland.

Thomas had the most votes in the contest with 6,943 (19.45 percent); Southerland, 6,357 (17.81 percent); Hunt, 6,331 (17.73 percent); Frump, 5,476 (15.34 percent); Boyles, 5,370 (15.04 percent); and Holland, 5,221 (14.63 percent).

The returning incumbents thanked voters for sending them back to the board.

“I would like to say to the citizens of Hoke County that I thank them for entrusting me in another four years to serve as their county commissioner. I appreciate all of their support in the past, and now in the present,” Hunt said. “I look forward to working hard together with our board, with our new school board that’s coming on and other elected officials that are new, to continue to keep Hoke County going in the great direction that it’s headed in. We’ll continue to keep our taxes low and continue to have smart development, and do the good things that make Hoke County one of the best counties that there is in the state of North Carolina.”

Southerland also thanked citizens for the opportunity to serve a third term as a commissioner.

“I don’t take their trust in me lightly, and I am so grateful for that,” Southerland said. “We’ve got a lot of great things planned for Hoke County, but I want their continued support. I’m a servant, and I’m here to serve all the people of Hoke County. It’s not about Republican or Democrat, it’s about the people of Hoke County, what’s best for the county.

“I’m so excited but I’m so thankful. A lot of the time we don’t say thank you to people, and we should just pause for a moment and say thank you. Even the ones who did not vote for me, I thank them for participating in the political process, and I hope to earn their vote and their support throughout the next four years.”

Thomas said in comments, “I want to thank the voters of Hoke County for believing in me. In my third term I look forward to continuing the progress in Hoke County. Population growth shows that this is a community where people want to live.

“We will fight to ensure that Hoke County continues to strive in the years to come,” Thomas said. “I look forward to working with the Board of Commissioners to keep Hoke County on a path to economic prosperity.”

Incumbent Sheriff Roderick Virgil, a Democrat appointed by commissioners last year to serve out the remainder of the late Dr. Hubert Peterkin’s term, was voted in to office for his first full four-year term. Virgil won over Republican candidate Stevie Joe with 7,670 votes (59.49 percent) to Joe’s 5,224 votes (40.51 percent).

Virgil was not immediately available for comment on his win following the election.

Hoke voters sent three newcomers to the Hoke County Board of Education, with candidates Catherine Blue, Ruben Castellon and Angela Southerland filling two empty seats and unseating incumbent Della Maynor in the nonpartisan election. The contest ended up being a close race among several people in the large field of candidates.

In the race for school board, Angela Southerland received the most votes with 4,421 (13.80 percent); Castellon, 3,930 (12.27 percent); Blue, 3,906 (12.19 percent). Next were Christopher Leach with 3,806 votes (11.88 percent); Tonika McGeachy Dunbar, 3,681 (11.49 percent); Della Maynor, 3,070 (9.58 percent); John F. Harry, 3,034 (9.47 percent); Tony Cunningham Sr., 2776 (8.67 percent); Micheaux Hollingsworth, 2,241 (7 percent); and Deltarina Carr, 1,009 (3.15 percent). A total of 156 write-in names were counted in the race.

 Southerland said she was humbled by her win in the race.

“I’m just so humbled. I am ready to serve,” she said. “My son, Maurice Winston, passed away back in July, and he had inspired me to run. I didn’t think I was going to go ahead and jump on board but I did, and I’m just so grateful to be in this position to serve Hoke County’s children, and to really support the staff of Hoke County Schools. I’m grateful.”

Castellon said in a statement that he’s looking forward to working with the other school board members, and extended congratulations to his fellow newcomers.

“Hello everyone, I am Ruben Castellon, 8 November was a great victory for all of us. Thank you to all my supporters, and congratulations to Ms. Blue and Southerland. The real winners of this election are all students, parents, and teachers,” he said. “I look forward to working with all the Hoke County Board of Education members to ensure all students receive a sound basic education, better pay for our teachers, reliable transportation, and getting all parents involved. Remember, Students First Parents Always!”

Blue said she’s looking forward to getting to work on the school board.

“I’m just thankful that the citizens did choose me to sit on the board with my experience and passion. I truly want to make a difference,” Blue said. “I want my voice to be heard. I’m just excited about everything.”

Incumbent State Rep. Garland Pierce will continue to represent Hoke and Scotland counties in the N.C. State House of Representatives District 48 for another term. Pierce, a Democrat, won with 11,997 votes (53.47 percent) to Republican candidate Melissa Swarbrick’s 10,438 (46.53 percent) in total, including 7,357 votes for Pierce from Hoke voters. Swarbrick received 5,633 votes in Hoke County; in Scotland County, she had 4,805 votes to Pierce’s 4,640.

Pierce said he was thankful for the confidence voters placed in him, and that he plans to take into account input from voters he received while campaigning.

“I hope I can continue to live up to the expectations that they expect of me,” he said. “It was a close race, very spirited, but the people have spoken. I just look forward to serving and taking some of the things that I heard on the campaign trail to help make Hoke and Scotland a better place to live and raise a family.”

Hoke will have new representation in the North Carolina State Senate. After years of being in District 21, this was the first election that saw Hoke paired with Robeson and Scotland counties in N.C. State Senate District 24.

With just a few precincts in Robeson County still to report in by publication deadline Tuesday night, it appeared incumbent Republican State Sen. Danny Earl Britt Jr. won the race for State Senate District 24 with 28,377 votes among the three counties to Democratic candidate Darrel “BJ” Gibson Jr.’s 20,289. Hoke County voters supported Gibson over Britt, casting 7,008 votes for Gibson and 5,873 for Britt.

The race for U.S. House of Representatives District 9 between Hoke County native Ben Clark III, a Democrat, and Republican incumbent Rep. Richard Hudson was not final by publication deadline, but Hudson held a lead of 126,094 votes (56.35 percent) to Clark’s 97,661 votes (43.65 percent).

The race between Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, and Ted Budd, a Republican, for U.S. Senate was likewise not fully reported at deadline, but Budd held a lead of 1,736,617 votes (50.87 percent) to Beasley’s 1,604,000 (46.99 percent). Hoke voters chose Beasley over Budd with 7,089 votes for Beasley and 5,574 for Budd; and Clark over Hudson, with 7,235 votes for Clark and 5,781 for Hudson.

Two local races in Hoke County saw unopposed incumbents return to office. Hoke County Clerk of Superior Court Evelyn M. McLeod defeated a Democratic rival in the primary earlier this year and did not face a challenge from any other party in the general election Tuesday. Neil McKenzie and Leonard Baldwin return as Hoke County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisors, a nonpartisan office.

All of the election results are unofficial until the election canvass, which will take place November 18.

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