BY JOHN H. WALKER
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Rick Page, who served as Town of Tarboro Utilities Director for 24 years before retiring and being elected to represent Ward 3 on the town council the past four years, will be the town’s next mayor after winning a three-man race in a landslide.
Page defeated John Wooten and Donnie Hale with 50.94 percent of the vote. Page garnered 1,031 votes to 540 for Wooten and 441 for Hale.
Three newcomers will join the council on Dec. 9 after Othar Woodard defeated incumbent Gerrelene Walker and former police officer Carl Benson in Ward 1, Steve Burnette bested Leshaun Jenkins in Ward 3 and John Jenkins II defeated incumbent Candis Jenkins in Ward 5. Incumbent Taro Knight was reelected without opposition in Ward 7.
Woodard won with 11 votes to Walker’s 93 and Benson’s 76 votes, while Burnette led from start to finish, managing a 223-89 margin over Jenkins. Ribustello, who withdrew from the race, received 16 votes.
In Ward 5, Jenkins was returned to the council after losing to Owens by 16 votes four years ago. Jenkins collected 189 votes to 117 for Owens.
Walker and Owens were the first women to ever serve on the board
Page said his first objective would be to have “open discussion” on the council.
“I don’t want people to come (to meetings) with a personal agenda, but rather an agenda for Tarboro,” he said. “I want us to talk about and vote … whether you’re for it (the issue) or against it, if it passes, let’s all get behind it for the good of Tarboro.”
Jenkins said, “I’ll tell you what I told Terry (former Daily Southerner editor Terry Smith) the last time, the people have spoken. I think that says they think I did a good job last time and believed in me this time.”
As Jenkins was being congratulated by well-wishers, Owens came up and placed a hand on his right should and said, “Congratulations, John.”
For Tarboro native and first-time political candidate Othar Woodard, he said it was both a “humbling and gratifying experience.”
Woodard said he “knocked on a lot of doors and met a lot of good people. I learned a lot about the town I didn’t know from folks.”
Woodard said he was blessed with a hard-working team of supporters and wants to work to bring all of the classes of people together to help Tarboro move forward.
“I want to work to bring jobs, but every candidate says that,” he added. “Still, we have to work to bring job growth.”
Page agreed, saying he felt small business was the key to spurring economic development in the community. “I think the day of landing major industries in smaller communities is becoming more and more difficult, but we can create jobs one small business at a time.
Page will lead a council that will include Woodard, Al Hull, Burnette, Debra Jordan, Carol Ruffin, Taro Knight and Garland Shepheard.