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Brooks, Spence win election in 3rd Ward; Adkins, Ruffieux win in 2nd Ward

100919electionday

Second Ward candidates Chris Ruffieux (left) and Gabriel Adkins pose for a photo outside the polling station at Knobbs Creek Recreation Center, Tuesday afternoon. Ruffieux was elected and Adkins re-elected to council seats in the Second Ward in Tuesday’s election.

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By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

A former councilman and a political newcomer won seats on Elizabeth City City Council on Tuesday, ousting two longtime incumbents in a record-low turnout election.

Michael Brooks won a seat in the Third Ward, returning to the seat he gave up when he chose not to run for re-election in 2017.

Incumbent Councilor Kem Spence, meanwhile, won the Third Ward's other seat. Fellow incumbent Rickey King, however, fell short in his bid for a new two-year term.

In the Second Ward, incumbent Councilor Gabriel Adkins won re-election, finishing first in the three-candidate race. Also winning a seat in the Second Ward was first-time candidate Chris Ruffieux.

Incumbent Councilwoman Anita Hummer fell short in her bid for a ninth consecutive term, finishing third in the Second Ward race.

According to unofficial results, Brooks finished with 191 votes or 36.7 percent, while Spence finished with 176 votes, or 33.8 percent. King finished with 150 votes, or 28.8 percent.

Spence, who was at the Pasquotank Board of Elections office Tuesday, said he was glad to be returning to the council for another term.

“I'm not changing,” Spence said. “I'm still going to be the same thing: firm, fair and consistent.”

Spence said he has enjoyed working with King and looks forward to working with Brooks on behalf of Third Ward citizens.

“I can work with anybody,” Spence said. “I'm just going to do what I do.”

In the 2nd Ward, Adkins finished with 190 votes, or 36.8 percent, and Ruffieux garnered 170 votes, or just over 33 percent. Hummer finished with 154 votes, or 29.9 percent.

Adkins, who also was at the Pasquotank elections office Tuesday night, thanked 2nd Ward voters for their confidence in him.

“I'm excited about it,” Adkins said about winning re-election to a second term. “I'm ready to start tonight.”

There's a lot of work to do, Adkins said.

“We've got a lot of projects now,” Adkins said. The work on the new Senior Center needs to be completed and council needs to support the police department in recruiting more officers to keep citizens safe.

“We need to get the youth more involved,” Adkins said. “We've been working on the seniors and now we need to do something for the youth.”

Adkins said he is also committed to working to keep taxes down.

In other results, Mayor Bettie Parker, who ran unopposed, won a second term. She collected 989 votes, or 93.9 percent of all those cast. Sixty-four voters wrote in someone else’s name on the ballot.

First Ward Councilors Jeannie Young and Billy Caudle, who also ran unopposed, also won second terms. Young collected 222 votes and Caudle garnered 204. Eighteen voters wrote in someone else’s name on the ballot.

Fourth Ward Councilors Johnnie Walton and Darius Horton, who also ran unopposed, also won new terms. Walton garnered 201 votes while Horton collected 167. Nine voters wrote in someone else’s name on the ballot.

Turnout for Tuesday’s election was 10.24 percent, as only 1,194 voters of 11,665 registered cast ballots.

That turnout was the lowest in more than 40 years. Pasquotank County elections officials said their records only go back to 1977. That year John Bell ran unopposed for mayor and garnered 1,315 votes.

More recently the city elections have regularly seen more than 2,300 ballots cast. Voter turnout was 2,374 in 2017, 2,498 in 2015, 3,046 in 2013, 2,712 in 2011, 2,542 in 2009, 2,672 in 2007, and 2,815 in 2005.

In the 3rd Ward, Carl Leggett, 48, who works as a security guard, cast his ballot at Pasquotank Elementary School Tuesday afternoon for Spence.

Leggett said his priorities are getting rid of crime, improving the condition of city streets, improving lighting and providing programs for youth.

"We need something for these teenagers to keep them out of trouble," Leggett said. "We need these types of things.

While there are programs for younger children there are fewer options for teenagers, according to Leggett.

Leggett said he believes Spence is on the right track but needs more time on the council in order to get things done.

"That's who I believe in," Leggett said, referring to Spence. "That's who I stand for. I want him to continue working on his programs. Sometimes it takes more than one term to get things going."

Sh'Rhonda Sawyer, a Second Ward voter, said she cast her ballot at Knobbs Creek Recreation Center Tuesday morning. Sawyer, a 44-year-old social worker, said she was looking for city councilors who care about citizens and will stand up for things that are important to citizens.

"They should be honest and willing to work hard to make our community even better than what it is," she said.

Sawyer declined to say which candidates she voted for.

Joshua Sawyer, 39, a teacher, also declined to name candidates he supported. He said he didn't have particular issues he was concerned about in the election. He vote.

In a record low-turnout election, a former councilman and a political newcomer won seats on Elizabeth City City Council on Tuesday, ousting two longtime incumbents.

Michael Brooks won a seat in the Third Ward, returning to the seat he gave up when he chose not to run for re-election in 2017.

Incumbent Councilor Kem Spence, meanwhile, won the Third Ward's other seat.

His fellow incumbent Rickey King, however, fell short in his bid for a new two-year term.

In the Second Ward, incumbent Councilor Gabriel Adkins won re-election, finishing first in the three-candidate race. Also winning a seat in the Second Ward was first-time candidate Chris Ruffieux.

Incumbent Councilwoman Anita Hummer fell short in her bid for a ninth consecutive term, finishing third in the Second Ward race.

According to unofficial results, Brooks finished with 191 votes or 36.7 percent, while Spence finished with 176 votes, or 33.8 percent. King finished with 150 votes, or 28.8 percent.

Spence, who was at the Pasquotank Board of Elections office Tuesday, said he was glad to be returning to the council for another term.

“I'm not changing,” Spence said. “I'm still going to be the same thing: firm, fair and consistent.”

Spence said he has enjoyed working with King and looks forward to working with Brooks on behalf of Third Ward citizens.

“I can work with anybody,” Spence said. “I'm just going to do what I do.”

Adkins finished with 190 votes, or 36.8 percent, and Ruffieux garnered 170 votes, or just over 33 percent. Hummer finished with 154 votes, or 29.9 percent.

Adkins, who also was at the Pasquotank elections office Tuesday night, thanked 2nd Ward voters for their confidence in him.

“I'm excited about it,” Adkins said about winning re-election to a second term. “I'm ready to start tonight.”

There's a lot of work to do, Adkins said.

“We've got a lot of projects now,” Adkins said. The work on the new Senior Center needs to be completed and the council needs to support the Police Department in recruiting more officers to keep citizens safe.

“We need to get the youth more involved,” Adkins said. “We've been working on the seniors and now we need to do something for the youth.”

Adkins said he is also committed to working to keep taxes down.

In other results, Mayor Bettie Parker, who ran unopposed, won a second term. She collected 989 votes, or 93.9 percent of all those cast. Sixty-four voters wrote in someone else’s name on the ballot.

First Ward Councilors Jeannie Young and Billy Caudle, who also ran unopposed, also won second terms. Young collected 222 votes and Caudle garnered 204. Eighteen voters wrote in someone else’s name on the ballot.

Fourth Ward Councilors Johnnie Walton and Darius Horton, who also ran unopposed, also won new terms. Walton garnered 201 votes while Horton collected 167. Nine voters wrote in someone else’s name on the ballot.

Turnout for Tuesday’s election was 10.24 percent, as only 1,194 voters of 11,665 registered cast ballots.

That turnout was the lowest in more than 40 years. Pasquotank County elections officials said their records only go back to 1977. That year John Bell ran unopposed for mayor and garnered 1,315 votes.

More recently the city elections have regularly seen more than 2,300 ballots cast. Voter turnout was 2,374 in 2017, 2,498 in 2015, 3,046 in 2013, 2,712 in 2011, 2,542 in 2009, 2,672 in 2007, and 2,815 in 2005.

In the 3rd Ward, Carl Leggett, 48, who works as a security guard, cast his ballot at Pasquotank Elementary School Tuesday afternoon for Spence.

Leggett said his priorities are getting rid of crime, improving the condition of city streets, improving lighting and providing programs for youth.

"We need something for these teenagers to keep them out of trouble," Leggett said. "We need these types of things.

While there are programs for younger children there are fewer options for teenagers, according to Leggett.

Leggett said he believes Spence is on the right track but needs more time on the council in order to get things done.

"That's who I believe in," Leggett said, referring to Spence. "That's who I stand for. I want him to continue working on his programs. Sometimes it takes more than one term to get things going."

Sh'Rhonda Sawyer, a Second Ward voter, said she cast her ballot at Knobbs Creek Recreation Center Tuesday morning. Sawyer, a 44-year-old social worker, said she was looking for city councilors who care about citizens and will stand up for things that are important to citizens.

"They should be honest and willing to work hard to make our community even better than what it is," she said.

Sawyer declined to say which candidates she voted for.

Joshua Sawyer, 39, a teacher, also declined to name candidates he supported. He said he didn't have particular issues he was concerned about in the election. He vote.

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