After months of campaigning, voters spoke Tuesday, choosing City Council incumbents over their challengers.
Mayor Allen Joines handily won a fourth term. Complete, unofficial results show he received nearly 88.5 percent of the nearly 10,000 votes cast in the Democratic mayoral primary. He faces no Republican opposition in November.
“We wanted to continue what we were doing. We felt like we’d been pretty successful with moving the city forward, and it feels like the voters have agreed with that,” Joines said Tuesday night at his Liberty Street campaign hub. “I’m just so honored with the huge support. It’s affirmation of the course that we’ve had, that the city had.”
East Ward Council Member Derwin Montgomery had no trouble winning a second term. In a three-way Democratic contest, Montgomery earned nearly 64 percent of the vote. Challengers Joycelyn Johnson and Philip Carter were a distant second and third, respectively. Johnson had served as the East Ward representative for three terms before Montgomery beat her four years ago. He said he was anticipating a vigorous challenge from her this time around as well.
“We knew that the individual that was the major competition, Ms. Johnson, had and continued to have roots in this community,” he said. “I knew that it was nothing that would be taken lightly and we couldn’t rest, and we didn’t. We just tried to stay in the faces of people who know what has taken place in the last three years and who believed in what we were doing.”
The First Calvary Baptist pastor was joined Tuesday night by friends, family members and supporters at a private reception at the home of Winston-Salem State University Professor Larry Little to watch the results.
Mayor Pro Tempore Vivian Burke, who has represented the Northeast Ward since 1977, was also victorious. Burke had talked of retiring at the end of her current term, but she says her supporters convinced her otherwise.
“It was pleasant; it was positive,” she said of the energy surrounding her campaign, which began when a room full of supporters greeted her on the night before the filing deadline, imploring her to run again. “There was such strength and it was such force in how they said, ‘We’ll be there for you, don’t worry.’ That made a significant difference.”
Burke faced competition from fellow Democrats Brenda Diggs and Jemmise Bowen, but won easily, garnering nearly 54 percent of the nearly 1,750 votes cast.
Although she is headed for her tenth consecutive victory, Burke said the fervor of an election night never loses its luster.
“I’m so ecstatic, excited and grateful,” she said during her celebration at the Sundance Plaza Hotel and Spa Tuesday. “It was a good campaign.”
Southeast Ward Council Member James Taylor is also headed for a second term. He sailed by Democrat Bill Tatum with 88 percent of the vote. Taylor, who will face Republican Mike Hunger in November, spent much of the evening at home Tuesday, watching the results with the people who matter most to him: his wife Deanna and the couple’s three children, James III, 9, Jacob, 8 and Jada, 4.
“I’m very excited that the people chose to keep me around for a second term,” noted Taylor, who rounded out the evening among friends and supporters at Burke’s celebration. “My job is always to listen to the people. The people have spoken today, and I’m looking forward to seeing another term.”
West Ward representative Robert Clark easily overcame his Republican adversaries Howard Hudson and Andrew Johnson to retain his seat and South Ward incumbent Molly Leight bested newcomer community organizer Carolyn Highsmith, securing nearly three quarters of the vote.
The Northwest Ward seat, which is being vacated by Wanda Merschel, was secured by Democrat Jeff MacIntosh, who beat out Democratic contenders Noah Reynolds and Laura Elliott for the chance to face Republican Lida Hayes Calvert in the General Election.
Burke, Taylor, and MacIntosh will also face Republican opposition in the Nov. 5 General Election, as will North Ward representative Denise “DD” Adams and Dan Besse of the Southwest Ward.
In all, 11,339 ballots were cast citywide, translating to a total voter turnout of 6.44 percent. The General Election will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 5.