By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Thursday marks the first day that Edgecombe County voters can begin casting their ballots for in local elections. Early voting begins 8 a.m. Thursday at Edgecombe County Administration Building. Votes may be cast between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday through Friday, Nov. 1. Votes may also be cast between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturdays with the final day of early voting on Saturday, Nov. 2
Edgecombe County Board of Election Director Jerry Spruell is prepping for the occasion.
"We're in the process of putting everything together," he said. "I encourage everybody to take advantage of early voting."
Residents who are not registered can register during early voting. Spruell explained that because of new legislation, early voting will decrease from 17 days to 10 and registration will not be allowed."
The changes in number of early voting days, however, do not take place until 2014, according to the website ncelectionconnection.com. According to the site, the there is "No change in rules for registering and voting, except pre-registration for teenagers ends September 1."
Municipal elections are not generally well supported and Spruell said he is not anticipating a large turnout. However, he is expecting to be busy on the first two days of early voting.
Some interesting races may drive the numbers up higher than normal.
Only six seats are uncontested, Tarboro Town Council Ward 7's seat, Conetoe mayor's seat, two Pinetops commissioners seats held by Joyce Tolson and Suzanne Coker Craig, and two Macclesfield commissioner seats.
The most highly contested seat is for Princeville mayor, where four candidates will vie for that seat. Incumbent Priscilla Everette-Oates was one of the nine last minute candidates who filed on Friday. Others candidates who filed for the Princeville mayor's seat are, Milton Bullock, Bobby Jones and Theresa Williams. William was one of four candidates who ran against Everette-Oates in 2009.
In Tarboro, its mayor's race may have collected some surprising candidates after Ward 3 incumbent, Rick Page, announced a few weeks prior to the filing period that he would run for the seat. Page was the first candidates to file. Running against Page will be Donnie Hale and John Wooten. Current mayor, Donald Morris announced months prior to the beginning of the filing period that he would not seek re-election.
Because of Page is not seeking re-election for Ward 3, that left his seat open. Three first-time candidates filed for Ward 3 — Steve Burnette, Leshaun Jenkins and Stephen Ribustello.
Tarboro Town Council Ward 1 incumbent Gerrelene Walker and Ward 5 incumbent Candis Owens both filed for their respective seats. Retired Tarboro police department officer Carl Benson and Othar Woodard are running against Walker while former town councilman John Jenkins is challenging Owens. Owens defeated Jenkins in 2009
In Conetoe, five people are running for four commissioner seats. Incumbents Jesse Pettaway, Wilson Jones, Leon Wynn and Milton Goff Jr. have filed. Johnny Respass also filed for a seat. Conetoe commissioners are selected at-large with the four candidates with the highest number of votes elected.
The races in Whitakers could be more competitive than the races in Conetoe. Six candidates have filed for three seats. Only two of the incumbents have filed — Betty Bullock and Doris Lindsey. Other candidates that filed are, Al Wright, Fran Lynch, Nancy Taylor and Jessica Vinson. Ronald Gibson did not file for re election
In Macclesfield, incumbent mayor Mike Keel is the only contestant after Trey Lewis withdrew.