Editorial: Will historic votes lead to historic results?

Editorial: Will historic votes lead to  historic results?
December 07
10:01 2018

Voters made history across North Carolina Nov. 6. African-American candidates for sheriff in the state’s seven largest counties and smaller Pitt County, won their races.

Paula Dance became the first African-American sheriff in Pitt County and the first female African-American sheriff in the state of North Carolina.

Voters in Wake, Durham, Cumberland, Mecklenburg, Buncombe, Forsyth, Guilford and Pitt all elected African-American sheriffs Nov. 6. In all but Wake and Mecklenburg, it was the first time doing so.

“When I was born, there were no African-American members of the North Carolina state legislature, no African-American sheriffs, certainly no women minority sheriffs, and no black DAs,” the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, the president emeritus of the North Carolina NAACP, told in Durham.

Dr. Barber was born in 1963. He was born just as civil rights were getting hot and heavy. No, there were no African-American sheriffs when he was born.

But there are now. The question is, what difference will it make? We understand the historical value of the elections, but will the sheriffs be able to fight crime as they should? Will budget constraints keep them from hiring the best people and training those who are hired to become the best? Will unforeseen circumstances, such as in Forsyth County, lead County Commissioners to use what some consider a substandard vendor for inmate health care because no other vendor made a bid to provide that care?

Will the jails be safe to keep inmates from dying? Several have died in the Forsyth County Jail.

While history has been made, history should continue to be made. The African-Americans must overcome the obstacles they face to provide the best service to the residents of the counties they serve. It might take some new and innovative ways to overcome the obstacles. It might take new people to break through the tethers holding them back. It might take compassion and fortitude to overcome.

Whatever it will take, the voters expect a lot from the new African-American sheriff. We wish them Godspeed and the will to overcome.

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