Elect 2012: Commissioners may see runoff

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2012

By Karissa Minn and Shavonne Potts
SALISBURY — Primary election day is over, but both parties’ races for Rowan County commissioner could be decided in a runoff this summer.
In the race to set the fall ballot for two open seats on the Board of Commissioners, former board member Gus Andrews topped the Republican field of nine candidates, and Gene Miller finished second.
Because no candidate got more than 20 percent of the vote, one or both of the next two finishers, Mike Caskey and Craig Pierce, could call for a runoff.
That election would take place on July 17, to coordinate with Congressional runoffs.
Andrews, who received 18.85 percent or 5,763 votes, said he’s pleased to be the leading vote-getter.
“I’m obviously disappointed that if I’m in a runoff, I have to go through the summer being involved in a political campaign,” he said. “But I’m excited about where I’m at at this particular time.”
Andrews said he wants to thank everyone who voted for him and helped him get his name back out there.
“It required a lot of work and a lot of help from a lot of people, and I appreciate every one of them,” he said.
Miller, assistant superintendent for Rowan-Salisbury Schools, received 16.91 percent of the vote or 5,172 votes.
“I’m very pleased to win second place, but I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get majorities,” Miller said. “So we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing — if, of course, there’s a call for a runoff. I feel sure that there will be.”
Mike Caskey, a patrol officer who serves on the Rowan-Salisbury School Board, finished third with 15.18 percent or 4,641 votes.
Caskey thanked his supporters and even the other candidates.
“We had a bunch of great choices on the Republican side,” he said.
Caskey isn’t sure yet if he’ll call for a runoff.
“I’m tired, so I’m not going to decide tonight,” he said. “Right now, I’m leaning that way.”
Craig Pierce, owner of Pierce Interiors and Construction, said he thinks he will call for a runoff. He placed fourth with 14.36 percent or 4,388 votes.
“With nine candidates, I think finishing fourth is pretty good,” Pierce said.
Mac Butner placed fifth with 10.04 percent or 3,069 votes, Laura Eller Hutchison came in sixth with 9.17 percent or 2,805 votes, Carl Dangerfield received 7.68 percent or 2,349 votes, Joel Johnson received 4.05 percent or 1,237 votes, and Bill Feather finished last with 3.78 percent or 1,155 votes.
Former commissioner Leda Belk was the top vote-getter among Democratic candidates for the board of commissioners, leading with 27.32 percent of the vote or 3,934 votes. That’s enough to assure her of a spot on the November ballot.
“I’m so grateful to the people that came out to vote and saw fit to support me,” Belk said.
She said there were good, quality people in the race.
“The people had a tough decision. We’ll see what tomorrow brings,” Belk said.
Ralph Walton followed Belk with 17.51 percent or 2,521 votes.
The retired educator said he was happy with the results.
“We’ll wait and see what happens. We’ll have to wait on it,” he said referring to the potential call for a runoff.
Corey Hill received 16.43 percent or 2,366 votes.
Hill, who is a union president with Daimler Truck North America, can call for a runoff because the second highest vote-getter did not garner 20 percent.
Hill said he would probably request a runoff.
“I owe that to the people that turned out to vote for me,” he said.
Hill said he went this far and doesn’t want to let anyone down.
It was his first election, Hill said, and was a good experience.
Jack Eller, owner of Eller Transport, received 14.83 percent or 2,136 votes, while Carrol Crawford received 13.01 percent or 1,873 votes, followed by Travis Summit with 10.90 percent or 1,569 votes.
Candidates are required to get 40 percent of the vote plus one, divided by the number of open seats.