Bladen County voters have hard choices on election day

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

Bladen County voters, if they haven’t already cast ballots, still have decisions to make for this year’s municipal elections.

In Elizabethtown, three incumbents and a newcomer are vying for the three current council members’ spots. Paula Greene, Rufus Lloyd, and Herman Lewis are hoping to maintain their jobs, while former Elizabethtown Police Chief Bobby Kinlaw has his eyes on a seat.

In the town of Bladenboro, incumbent Mayor Rufus Duckworth is being taken on by two challengers — Kenneth Kelly and Larry Simmons.

The town commissioners of Bladenboro need to fill three spots, and they have four people vying for them. Incumbents Billy Ray Benson and Jeff Atkinson are hoping to keep their positions, and joining them in the race are Rodney Hester and Greg Sykes. Current commissioner Chris Harrelson will not be returning to the board.

The town of Clarkton also has a contested race with its county commissioner seats. Five people have put their hats in the ring for two spots, including incumbents Tim Tart and Jerome Myers. Stephen Hester, Linda Gaskins, and Jimmy Hudson round out the field of candidates.

Dublin will have a new mayor after it’s all said and done, as incumbent Horace Wyatt is not seeking re-election. With their eyes on his seat, however, are Darryl Dowless and Alex Hursey.

The town commissioner race in Dublin will see Richard Sibbett face off against Jeff Smith for a lone seat.

The commissioner races in White Lake, Tar Heel, and East Arcadia, as well as the mayoral race in Tar Heel, are uncontested.

In addition to municipal races, Dublin voters will have a decision to make about a referendum. This year’s ballot will call for voters to voice their desires about on- or off-premises sale of unfortified wine and malt beverages. The referendum will appear on the ballot as four yes/no options: on-site malt beverage, off-site malt beverage, on-site unfortified wine, and off-site unfortified wine.

As the period for absentee ballots and early voting draw to a close, the Bladen County Board of Elections is taking stock of participation.

“It’s been pretty slow,” said Director Cynthia Shaw, “but I looked back today on the last two local elections, and we’re running about the same as we did in 2013.”

Tuesday was the last day staff could mail out absentee ballots, and, with what has been received thus far from absentee ballots and early voting, Shaw said only 307 ballots have been cast.

Early voting — taking place 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every weekday at the main branch of the Bladen County Public Library — will continue through Friday and will be held again Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“After Saturday, the only way to participate in this year’s election will be to show up on election day, and people will have to go to their polling location if they want to cast a vote,” Shaw remarked.

At the one-stop location, residents who haven’t previously registered are able to do so on site, but those wanting to vote on election day will have had to register prior to voting.

The Board of Elections has announced the following precincts and locations for voting on election day …

— Bethel: Lion’s Club building at 120 2nd St., Dublin

— Bladenboro: Bladenboro Historical Building, 818 S. Main Street

— Brown Marsh: Town hall, 81 N. Elm. St., Clarkton

— Carvers Creek:East Arcadia School, 21451 N.C. 87 East, Riegelwood

— Colly: White Lake Fire Department, 1879 White Lake Drive, White Lake

— Elizabethtown 1: King Street gymnasium, 803 W. King St., Elizabethtown

— Elizabethtown 2: Powell-Melvin Ag. Center, 450 Smith Circle Drive, Elizabethtown

— Hollow: Municipal building, 14867 N.C. 87 West, Tar Heel

Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal