Priest fends off challenger

By: W. Curt Vincent - Bladen Journal

ELIZABETHTOWN — Russell Priest has held elected positions on the Elizabethtown Town Council and Bladen County Board of Commissioners. He’s approaching retirement after more than three decades as a teacher and coach. After winning his District 3 seat as county commissioner in 2014, he said it was unlikely he would run for re-election.

But things changed when the filing period opened in 2018.

“I wasn’t going to run,” he said in April. “But I felt like I needed to do it one more time — and I had a lot of people tell me I should.”

On Tuesday, Priest won re-election with an easy victory in the Democratic Party primary over challenger William Whitely of Tar Heel. Priest carried 74.23 percent of the votes with 798, while Whitley had 277 ballots for 25.77 percent.

“It was a good race, and he ran well,” Priest said on Tuesday. “I’m pleased with how things turned out.”

Priest, who has served as county chairman for a year, will not have a Republican challenger in the Nov. 6 general election.

W. Curt Vincent can be reached at 910-862-4163 or

W. Curt Vincent

Bladen Journal