Mallett wins another term as East Spencer mayor, final board seat hinges on recount

Published 3:04 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2021

By Natalie Anderson

EAST SPENCER — Mayor Barbara Mallett will serve another term in East Spencer, but the town board seats aren’t quite finalized after two incumbents finished one vote apart.

Mallett was first elected to the board in 2005 and served as the town clerk and finance officer before her election as mayor in 2011. In East Spencer, mayors serve a two-year term, while board members serve four-year terms.

Mallett won re-election to another term Tuesday after securing 90.29% of the vote, which was 158 votes cast. She sought re-election with no official opponent, but East Spencer resident Timothy Trogdon campaigned as a write-in candidate. He received 17 votes, or 9.71%. Trogdon works with the Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ Transportation Department and is a veteran of the Air Force, Army National Guard and Army Reserves.

Mallett said the votes show residents are satisfied with the way the town is moving forward.

“I’m very happy to be the mayor of the town of East Spencer for anther two years,” she said. “And I think residents will see some real progress in the appearance of the town and the way we are continuing to make this town grow into something they are proud of.”

Incumbents Albert Smith, Dwayne Holmes and Tony Hillian all sought re-election to second terms and faced a challenge from Shawn Rush, who’s the second vice chair of the Rowan County Democratic Party. Three seats were up for grabs.

Rush ultimately finished first, receiving 121 votes, 26.48%. This year’s election was Rush’s second attempt at earning a seat on the board. Rush told the Post he knew more about what to expect this time, how to ask questions and allow residents to share their concerns, which he said voters seemed to appreciate.

“I’m ready to hit the ground running, ready to learn and excited for this journey,” Rush said.

He thanked both Alisha Byrd-Clark, a Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education member, and Mayor Pro Tem Curtis Cowan for helping his campaign.

Holmes secured the second seat on the board after receiving 116 votes, or 25.38%. Holmes congratulated all the candidates on their campaigns, adding that it was a close race. Holmes said he’s ready to keep things moving forward, bring in businesses and keep the town growing and productive.

Hillian finished third, with 109 votes, 23.85%. However, Smith finished just one vote shy of Hillian and has already requested a recount for the board’s third and final seat.

Hillian said he knew it would be a close race, especially given the challenge from Rush, but he “didn’t realize it would be this close,” he added. Hillian said his campaign went well by knocking on doors and talking with residents, and noted the current board has worked well together as a team to accomplish some things for the town despite bumps in the road along the way. Hillian said he wants to make more activities available to the town and bring in economic growth.

If the recount or outstanding number of absentee by mail and provisional ballots changes the outcome of the race, Hillian said he’d still run for elected office in the future because he enjoys the service and working in the community.

Smith said this was his first formal election since he was appointed in 2019 to finish the term left by the late Otis Gibson, who died in 2018. Smith said the last two years have been about learning and getting out to meet people and hear their concerns. If a recount or remaining ballots result in Smith’s favor, he said he would continue working to move the town forward and attract economic development.

“But if I still fall short of the votes, I’ll be back in two years to run again,” Smith said.

Board terms are four years in East Spencer, but terms are staggered, meaning more seats will be up for re-election during the next municipal race.

There were a total of 632 votes cast in the mayoral and aldermen race in East Spencer, including three write-in votes for the town board.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at or call her at 704-797-4246.

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