It was a successful night for three candidates in the hotly-contested race for Johnston County School Board as former teachers Terri Sessoms and Traci Zukowski along with incumbent Todd Sutton picked up unofficial wins in the eight-candidate field.
Ms. Sessoms topped the field in the overall count capturing 31,349 votes followed by Mr. Sutton (26,030) and Ms. Zukowski (25,801).
Ms. Sessoms had won the ill-fated May Primary which would have eliminated two candidates. However, because only eight candidates were on the ballot instead of the state required nine, state election officials disqualified the totals and forced another showdown in November.
In that race, Ms. Sessoms and incumbent Dorothy Johnson topped the field along with Mr. Sutton. Had the tally stood, another incumbent, Butler Hall, and John Radford would have been eliminated leaving the remaining candidates for November’s election.
On Tuesday, voters placed Mrs. Johnson (23,516), who is currently the board vice-chair fourth, Jason Barbour (22,837) fifth, Mr. Hall (9,366) sixth, Mr. Radford (6,399) seventh and John Clapp (5,821) eighth. There were also 294 write-in votes cast.
Vote totals won’t be declared final until the county canvass is completed by the board of elections on Friday, Nov. 16.
In the other hotly-contested race in the county, incumbent District 28 Rep. Larry Strickland defeated Democratic challenger Jimmie Massengill and Libertarian Walt Rabon.
While Mr. Rabon proved to be little more than an alternative candidate who appeared to take votes away from Mr. Massengill, it was Mr. Strickland who finally rose to the top when ballots were counted.
The incumbent concluded the evening with around 60 percent of the tally across the district while Mr. Massengill finished with just under 38 percent. Mr. Rabon was a distant third with less than 3 percent of the total vote.
Inside the county numbers for the three candidates solidly reflected the overall tallies.
Mr. Strickland topped the 16,000 vote tally followed by Mr. Massengill with over 8,600 and Mr. Rabon with less than 1,000 ballots cast in his favor.
The only contested seat on the Johnston County Board of Commssioners District 7, saw R.S. “Butch” Lawter Jr. defeat Gracie Wells Chamblee by a 40,991 to 23,931 count.
Winning in uncontested races were: