Garrison will remain commissioner

Jan. 03, 2013 @ 08:07 PM

ROANOKE RAPIDS — Terry Garrison was edged out by just a dozen of 636 votes in his bid to replace the late Sen. Ed Jones in the North Carolina Senate Thursday night.

Rep. Angela Bryant, a Democrat from Rocky Mount, received the nomination by the executive committee of the Fourth Senatorial District. Bryant’s nomination goes to the governor’s office for approval.

If not acted upon in seven days, she will be seated.

The General Assembly returns to Raleigh next Wednesday to select leaders. The session will begin on Jan. 30.

Garrison and Bryant were the only individuals nominated. James Boone, a minister from Nash County formerly from Northampton County, expressed interest last week but removed himself from consideration before Thursday’s meeting.

Each of five counties had a number of votes representative to registered voters, with two representatives casting the votes. Both Bryant and Garrison had three minutes to address the committee a final time before voting.

Votes from Halifax County, the largest, were split evenly (91 each) between the candidates from George Branch and Vernon Bryant.

All of the votes for Nash (136) and Wilson (97) counties, an area closer to Bryant, went to Bryant. All of the votes for Vance (151) and Warren (70), an area closer to Garrison, went to Garrison.

Rick Brand and Willie T. Ramey represented Vance; Dollie Burwell and Robert Perry represented Warren; Laura O’Neal and Mary Wells represented Nash; and Felicia Atkinson and Sherry Lucas represented Wilson.

The meeting was standing room only with more than 50 in addition to the participants. Garrison was supported by about one-third of the people in attendance.

“It’s an honorable thought and feeling and it was a very, very short but stressful, compact race,” Garrison said. “We did some campaigning in a couple of weeks that you normally do in a couple of months. It was very, very close.”

He also learned sad news concerning his mother while en route to the meeting, sharing during his three minutes she was close to dying.

Bryant was gracious afterward and recognized Garrison’s abilities.

“It was difficult,” Bryant said. “I was almost saying, Lord, if I can come back as a county commissioner, because that is a strong network around this state.”

Bryant assured Vance County and all of the district would be of her concern.

“As a senator, the first thing you do is talk to the representative and find out what they’ve been doing,” Bryant said. “They have a new freshman representative over there in Nathan Baskerville, so I need to find out what he’s been doing and kind of plug in through him.”

Had Garrison been nominated, the Vance County Democratic Party would have been responsible for selecting his replacement to the county commission.

Jones died Dec. 14 at the age of 62. He was diagnosed in the spring with pancreatic cancer.

Jones was a 30-year veteran with the N.C. Highway Patrol, a former police chief in Enfield and had served as the Enfield mayor. He served two years in the House before being appointed in 2007 for Sen. Robert Holloman, who also died while in office.

Contact the writer at amauser@hendersondispatch.com.