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GOP rules elections, voters approve sales tax

Stanly County Republicans pitched a shutout in Tuesday’s general election.

In a mid-term election where Democrats were poised to regain lost ground, Stanly’s GOP turned back all political threats with a 54 percent voter turnout, which started briskly during Early Voting. In fact, most Democrat candidates found themselves in a deep hole once the One Stop results were made public.

Every Republican candidate scored victories in the conservative Stanly. In one election night surprise, the long-awaited 1/4 cent sales tax finally passed in its fifth attempt. In a close race throughout the night, those in favor of the tax amassed 11,126 votes to 10,754 against.

Virtually every municipality and organization throughout the county endorsed the sales tax, earmarked for public education. School officials have promised the proceeds be used toward school safety.

In one of the more closely watched races in the election, Stanfield’s Wayne Sasser finished what he started in the GOP primary and won the seat for N.C. House, District 67. His victory guarantees a Stanly County resident keeps the seat.

Sasser garnered 14,506 votes in Stanly alone, or 77 percent of the vote. Democrat Karen Webster got 3,673 votes while Norwood Libertarian Michael Finn collected 647 votes.

“We’ve worked hard,” Sasser said about the campaign and the long day working the polls. “It took about 100 people to cover all the polling places.”

Sasser said he spent the day in Cabarrus County, the home of Webster. It was also where he did not fare as well in the primary.

But the extra work paid off with Sasser winning Cabarrus County with 9,380 votes to Webster’s 4,244. Voters there awarded Finn with 483 votes.

Sasser said he remained confident in Stanly, which voted heavily for him in the primary.

Political newcomer Lane Furr kept the primary’s momentum going by defeating Democrat Dr. Elaine Coats, a write-in candidate.

“I always felt the people of Stanly County would put in the person they trusted,” Furr said between monitoring election results on the computer and watching an rerun episode of Gunsmoke on T.V. at his home.

“Anybody who knows me knows I stand by what I say,” Furr added. “I’m proud of the way they supported me.”

Between the extra effort for voters to scribble Coats’ name and the Republican wave, Coats simply could not overcome the challenge.

Republican Zachary D. Almond outpaced Democrat Michael Lambert in a near 2-1 margin for District 4 on the Board of County Commissioners.

Unopposed Republicans Bill Lawhon, incumbent, Tommy Jordan and Mike Barbee claimed their respective seats on the county commission.

Assistant District Attorney Thai Vang defeated fellow GOP candidate Beverly Spencer for the judicial seat 3 for District Court 20A. Vang received more votes in both Stanly and Montgomery counties.

Jeff Crisco took home more than 81 percent of the vote against Democrat Sonny Hinson.

Popular educator Joanne Neel Hesley could not break through the Board of Education as a Democrat, losing to Republican Anthony Graves in another lopsided contest.

Republican Jeff Chance advanced as an uncontested candidate on the school board.

In an election upset, Republican Shirley Lowder edged incumbent Democrat Benton Dry, 546-445, for District 2 on the Albemarle City Council.

“I wish I could serve with Mr. Dry rather than seeing him go…he has been such a good council member,” Lowder said.

“I’m not coming in planning to push for any big changes. I may not always agree with everything, but will try to work together for what’s best,” she added.

Republican Chris Whitley turned back Democrat David Morgan 981-552 in the city’s District 4 seat.

Albemarle Councilwoman Martha Hughes avoided a write-in to reclaim her at-large seat.

Democrat incumbent Ken Goodman lost Stanly County to Republican Joey Davis, but narrowly beat the GOP challenger 13,361-12,338 for N.C. House Dist. 66.

N.C. Senator Carl Ford, R-Rowan, walloped Democrat Arin Wilhelm in a landslide victory for District 33.

Other uncontested races of local interest netting expected victories include: incumbents District Attorney T. Lynn Clodfelter, Clerk of Superior Court Michael Huneycutt, District Court judges Bill Tucker and John Nance,  and Curtis Furr and Terry L. Blalock for Soil and Water Supervisor.