Local midterm election results offer few surprises

Local midterm election results offer few surprises
November 09
00:33 2022

For months candidates campaigned and did their part to gain the trust of voters ahead of the 2022 midterm election. Although official results won’t be ready for a few days, here’s a look at the early results in some of the most talked about local races. 

Forsyth County District Attorney 

The race for the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office between incumbent Jim O’Neil (R) and former District Court Judge Denise Hartsfield was probably the most anticipated race on the local ticket.

O’Neil has served as Forsyth County District Attorney since 2009. A graduate of Duke University, O’Neil received his law degree from New York Law School. He started working in Forsyth County in 1997 as a prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office. According to his website, his mission is to continue to make Winston-Salem one of the safest cities in North Carolina and the country, by prosecuting dangerous criminals to get them off the street. 

Hartsfield attended Spelman College, where she graduated in 1976 with a degree in English. Hartsfield returned to Winston-Salem after undergrad and earned her law degree from Wake Forest University. 

After Hartsfield passed the bar, she worked for the Legal Aid Society of Northwest NC, a statewide nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services in civil matters to low-income people. In 2002 Hartsfield was elected to serve in the 21st Judicial District when Judge Roland Hayes decided not to seek re-election. 

On election night, early voting numbers pushed Hartsfield out to an early lead, but as the night progressed the votes for O’Neil started to roll in. With about 98% of the vote reported, O’Neal held 51% of the vote. 

Forsyth County Board of Commissioners District A

There were two Democrats and two Republicans in the race for the two seats up for grabs in District A on the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners: incumbent Tonya McDaniel (D), Shai Woodbury (D), Reginald Reid (R) and Michael Owens (R). 

To no surprise to those familiar with the voting patterns in this race, Democrats held strong and took both seats. McDaniel was the top vote getter in the race with nearly 40% of the vote. Woodbury received 38% of the vote. 

McDaniel was first elected in 2018 and is seeking her second term. During her time on the board, McDaniel said she has helped bring valuable programs, initiatives, and funding to District A.

Moving forward, McDaniel said there is still work to be done. Earlier this year she mentioned the need to improve the county’s facilities on Highland Avenue. The county’s Social Security, Health, and Human Resources departments are all located on Highland Avenue in Winston-Salem. She said the facilities on Highland Avenue should provide wrap-around services that benefit the entire community. 

Shai Woodbury (D) currently serves on the local school board and is the first Black woman to serve as its chair. Woodbury said her main focus on the board of commissioners will be education, improving teacher pay, and bringing a much-needed change to District A. 

Forsyth County Board of Commissioners District B

Incumbent Don Martin, who serves as vice chair of the board of commissioners, ran unopposed for his seat on the board. Martin was first elected in 2014 after retiring from a long career in education, including 19 years as superintendent of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. 

Forsyth County Board of Commissioners At-Large 

In the race for the two at-large seats on the board, voters will choose between Democrat Dan Besse and Republican Terri Mrazek

Besse (D) finished with nearly 55% of the total vote. 

Besse is probably most known for his time as a member of the Winston-Salem City Council. He served 19 years as the representative for the Southwest Ward. He said his goal as member of the board of commissioners is to bridge the gap between the more rural areas of the county. He said there is great wealth in Forsyth County but it’s unevenly distributed. 

Forsyth County Sheriff

Incumbent Democrat Bobby Kimbrough won by a landslide against Republican Ernie Leyba. 

Kimbrough was first elected to office in 2018. He began his law enforcement career in 1984 as a police officer for the Winston-Salem Police Department. In 1987, he became an arson investigator with the Winston-Salem Fire Department while serving in the role of assistant fire marshal. He then moved to work with high-risk offenders at the North Carolina Department of Probation and Parole. From 1995 to 2016, Kimbrough served the United States Department of Justice as a special agent in the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Since taking office, he has forged relationships among the Forsyth County’s Sheriff’s Office, Winston-Salem Police Department, and other local law enforcement agencies for the first time. Kimbrough also helped establish several community programs, including a GED program for adults and an after-school program for at-risk youth at Winston Lake YMCA. He also helped raise $60,000 for students at North Hills Elementary School. 

Board of Education District 1

The battle for the two seats in District 1 which are decided by voters who live within the city limits, was fought and won during the primary election in May. With no Republican opposition, the two seats automatically went to the Democrats who had the most votes in the primary, incumbent Alex Bohannon and retired educator Trevonia Brown-Gaither. 

Brown-Gaither (D) worked nearly 20 years in the local school district before retiring from Parkland High School in 2021. She said her goal as a member of the school board is to ensure every student has a S-E-A-T (Safety Equity Advocacy and Transparency) at the table. 

Bohannon (D) currently works as a diversity compliance specialist for the City of Winston-Salem. He was chosen to fill a vacant seat on the board in 2021. Bohannon’s top issues of focus are ensuring high quality instruction for every child and cultural infusion across all subjunctive areas, and creating a positive workplace culture for every employee. 

Board of Education District 2

In the race for District 2, which represents voters who live outside the city limits, there were five candidates vying for four seats: incumbent Leah Crowley (R), Robert Barr (R), Steve Wood (R), and Jennifer Castillo (D). Republican candidate Stan Elrod, who died earlier this month, was replaced on the ballot by Susan Miller. 

Under state law, Elrod’s name was to remain on the ballot, but the executive committee of the Forsyth County Republican Party picked the replacement before Election Day.

Historically, District 2 has been a Republican stronghold and this year was no different. Crowley finished with 22% of the vote, while Miller, Barr and Wood rounded out the top four. 

Crowley (R), the only Republican in the race for District 2, has served on the board since 2018. In her next term Crowley has said she will support school choice and improving neighborhood schools and magnet schools and increasing teacher pay. 

Miller (R) won more than 6,000 votes in the primary, but didn’t have enough to make it through to the general election. According to her website, she worked in the district for more than 20 years. 

Barr (R) also has experience working in the district. He taught at Moore Elementary School, Paisley Magnet School, and Kernersville Middle School. He also served as curriculum coordinator at Atkins Middle School. 

Wood (R) is a  U.S. Army veteran and pastor emeritus of Forsyth Friends Church. According to his website, Wood is committed to maximizing the learning opportunities for every student.  

Board of Education At-Large 

There are several candidates vying for the three at-large seats on the board. Incumbent Deanna Kaplan (D), Sarah Absher (R), Richard Watts (D), Allen Daniel (R), Sabrina Coone-Godfrey (D), Regina Garner (L), and Michael Hardman (R). 

As the votes started to roll in, the Democrats in the race held the lead throughout the night and took all three seats. Kaplan was the top vote getter with 18% of the vote, while Coone-Godfrey and Watts both finished with over 17% of the vote. 

Kaplan (D) was first elected to the board in 2018 and currently serves as chair. Her priorities moving forward as a board member include teacher recruitment and retention and closing the achievement gap. 

Coone-Godfrey (D) is a mother of two children in WS/FCS and serves as a PTA president and on several other committees and boards. One of her main priorities will be improving communication between the board and the community. She also mentioned the need to implement district level teams that consist of parents, staff and students that will have the opportunity to interact directly with the board.

Watt (D) brings 32 years of experience as an educator to the board. Before retiring, Watts served as principal at Winston-Salem Preparatory Academy, Kimberley Park Elementary and Julian Gibson Elementary. Currently Watts serves as coordinator for Crosby Scholars’ AAMPED (African American Males Pursuing Educational Dream) program. During a recent open forum, Watts said the first thing he will do as a board member is sit down with groups of teachers, students, and parents to find out what changes they want to see in the district.

Other local races

NC State Senate District 32

Incumbent Paul Lowe Jr. (D) defeated George K. Ware (R).

NC House of Representatives District 72

Incumbent Amber Baker (D) defeated Shelton Stallworthy (R).

NC House of Representatives District 74 

Incumbent Jeff Zenger (R) defeated Carla Catalan Day (D).

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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