By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
The most highly contested races in Tarboro and Princeville likely drew the highest turnouts for early voting in an Edgecombe County municipal election during the 12.5 days of early voting. Early voting ended Saturday with 945 citizens casting votes. The majority of the votes were for Tarboro candidates.
Early voting was the prelude to Tuesday's Municipal Election. Election officials are bracing for another good turnout.
"We're looking for a steady day Tuesday," said Edgecombe County Board of Election Director Jerry Spruell. "I encourage everybody who has not voted to come out and do so."
One of the most intriguing races is for Tarboro mayor. The seat became vacant after 18-year mayor, Donald Morris, abruptly stepped down in August. Morris, who served 32 years on the council, had already announced that he would not seek re-election. Candidates hoping to fill the seat are Donnie Hale, Rick Page and John Wooten. Because Page is running for the mayor's seat, his Ward 3 seat will be left up for grabs.
Tarboro Ward 1 is also highly contested. between incumbent Gerrelene M. Walker and challengers Carl Benson and Othar Woodard. In Ward 3, there were three candidates until Stephen Risbustello dropped out of the race, leaving Steve Burnette and Lashaun Jenkins vying for the seat. Ribustello's name will appear pn the ballot.
In Ward 5 incumbent Candis B. Owens, is running against former councilman John Jenkins. Owens defeated Jenkins for the same seat by 28 votes in 2009.
Taro Knight, Ward 7 councilman, is the only Tarboro candidate without opposition. Knight is currently serving as the town's mayor pro tem.
In Princeville, Milton Bullock, Bobbie Jones and Theresa Williams are challenging incumbent Priscilla Everette-Oates for mayor.
Ward 3 and Ward 4 commissioner seats are also contested. Ward 3 incumbent, Isabelle Purvis Andrews is being challenged by JoRoam Myrick while Ward 4 incumbent Calvin Sherrod is being challenged by Pamela Ransome and Tyrone Hopkins.
Because of the contested races the majority of the candidates spent many hours campaigning in an effort to get an edge. Spruell said there was no way he could indicate which candidate might have the advantage over another.
Tarboro businessman Jimmy Dupree, Jr. said he, too, believes the contested races prompted the large early voting turnout. Dupree and his son, Jim Dupree, III cast votes on Saturday.
"I'm doing it because I will be out of town (on Tuesday) the younger Dupree said. "It's good to have early voting."
Other municipalities with seats up for election are:
• Conetoe: Mayor Linda Ingram is running unopposed. Incumbents Jesse Pettaway, Wilson Jones, Leon Wynn and Milton Goff Jr. are seeking to return. Former commissioner Johnny Respass is also vying for one of the seats. The seats are filled by at-large votes.
• Macclesfield: Mayor Mike Keel is also running unopposed as well as his commissioners, Dennis L. Sanderson and R.B. Owens.
• Pinetops: Commissioner Suzanne L. Coker and Joyce E. Tolson are running unopposed.
• Whitakers: Doris Lindsey, Jessica Whitehead, Betty Bullock, George Wright, Frances Lynch, and Nancy Taylor are seeking four commissioner seats.