Volume 15, Number 50
The three women on the ballot in Wake Forest’s town election Tuesday – incumbent Mayor Vivian Jones and soon-to-be-commissioners Bridget Wall-Lennon and Liz Simpers – were the big winners.
Jones won her fifth four-year term by defeating first-term Commissioner Jim Thompson with 2,257 votes (56.68 percent) to his 1,718 votes (43.14 percent), according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections website. All figures are unofficial until the election is certified by the Wake County Board of Elections.
Wall-Lennon led in the five-person race for two seats on the town board with 1,773 votes (24.88 percent) and Simpers was just behind her with 1,695 votes (23.78 percent). Because there are no voting districts in Wake Forest the two candidates with the most votes are elected to the two open seats. Commissioner Margaret Stinnett chose not to run for a fourth term and Thompson could not run for re-election to the town board and for mayor at the same time.
Jones, Wall-Lennon and Simpers could be sworn in at the end of the Nov. 21 town board meeting if the Wake County Board of Elections certifies the election this week. If not, the swearing-in and seating of the newly-elected officials will be continued to the work session on Dec. 5.
“I’m just really overwhelmed by the support people have given me,” Jones said in the midst of a busy morning with meetings, phone calls, emails and Facebook postings by people congratulating her. And it is not just today. During the campaign “when I got down somebody would say something that would lift my spirits. I’ve never had this much response” in earlier campaigns. She repeated her feeling of being overwhelmed by the vote and the response from people in Wake Forest.
The Gazette sent an email query, asking Thompson for a statement. He responded by saying, “I would like to make one, but I feel I need another 24-hours to process this. Sorry!!”
The Gazette also asked Wall-Lennon and Simpers for their comments.
Simpers replied, “I am honored and humbled that the citizens of Wake Forest have entrusted me to the Board of Commissioners. I have learned more in the past six months about our town’s needs, desires, and visions than I could have imagined. This race has made me love our town more than ever and I am thankful to be a part of it. This is just the beginning, and I am excited to get to work! Whether or not I won your vote, I hope to make you proud and be an advocate for you!”
Wall-Lennon did not respond before press time.
In the Tuesday voting, Thad Jusczcak had 1,461 votes (20.50 percent), John Van Ness had 1,216 votes (17.06 percent) and Ned Jones had 945 votes (13.26 percent). There were also 37 miscellaneous votes which could be write-ins or comments.
Counting all the votes cast in the mayor’s race, 3,982 people voted in this election or 15 percent of the 26,463 eligible voters. Given that only 7 percent of Wake Forest eligible voters went to the polls in 2015 when Commissioner Brian Pate won his first term and Commissioners Greg Harrington and Anne Reeve were re-elected, this was a high-water mark for recent elections. Unofficially across the county voter turnout was at 17.06 percent, partly because of the keen interest in the Raleigh mayor’s race where more people voted in Tuesday’s run-off than voted in the general election in October.
There are nine precincts in Wake Forest elections and Jones won in all nine, but Thompson came close to her total at precinct 19-12, Heritage Middle School in Heritage where many of his supporters live. The vote there was 398 for Jones, 382 for Thompson, a total of 780 voters, the biggest turnout in town.
The totals for all nine precincts are:
19-03, Wake Forest Church of God at 155 East Cedar Avenue, Jones 287 votes and Thompson 203 votes,
19-04, Richland Creek Community Church at 3229 Burlington Mills Road, Jones 294 votes and Thompson 253 votes.
19-05, Wake Forest Presbyterian Church at 12605 Capital Boulevard, Jones 163 votes and Thompson 91 votes
19-07, Flaherty Community Center at 1226 North White Street, Jones 233 votes and Thompson 160 votes,
19-11, Wake Forest Community House at 133 West Owen Avenue, Jones 312 votes to Thompson 171,
19-12, Heritage Middle School at 3400 Rogers Road, Jones 398 votes and Thompson 382 votes,
19-15, Wake County School at 931 Durham Road, Jones 93 votes and Thompson 53 votes,
19-18, Jones Dairy Elementary School at 1100 Jones Dairy Road, Jones 92 votes and Thompson 81 votes, and
19-19, Sanford Creek Elementary School at 701 Granite Falls Boulevard in Rolesville, Jones 300 votes and Thompson 258 votes.