Three incumbents hold seats; Simmons unseats Brown
Fearldine Simmons unseated Vernon Brown for the Ward 4 seat on the Henderson City Council in Tuesday’s municipal election.
Incumbents prevailed in each of the other three races, with Sara Coffey, Mike Inscoe and Garry Daeke gaining the endorsement of voters to spend four more years impacting policy at City Hall.
On a day when less than 15 percent of the city’s 10,267 registered voters went to the polls, Simmons edged Brown 166-159.
“I thank God and all the people who supported me and believed in me enough to cast a vote my way,” Simmons said Tuesday night. “I thank the community for coming out and having confidence in me to vote my way.
“I have a sincere desire to do my best to serve my community, especially my Ward 4.”
Simmons said she was “amazed” at the seven-vote margin. Told Brown expressed confidence in her abilities going forward, she also had praise for her opponent.
“I think that he’s a super person as well,” Simmons said. “And I have nothing but good things to say about him. I’ve known him all my life almost, and he’s just been a good guy.”
“It was close. I knew it would be close,” Brown said. “Ms. Simmons is a good person. The people spoke, and they are looking forward to her leadership, as I am also, to lead Henderson for the next four years.
“I’m known for running close races. I hardly ever get blown out. I’m right around it, in terms of always against high standards and good people. That’s where I want to be. And that’s where I see Ms. Simmons. She’s up there and strong, and a wise person and experienced with exceptional leadership.”
In the race for the Ward 1 at-large seat, Coffey defeated challenger Charles Douglas, 960-494.
For the Ward 2 at-large seat, Inscoe scored a win over challenger Arnold Booth Jr., 940-537.
And in the race for Ward 3, Daeke defeated challenger Geraldine Champion, 255-104.
According to the Vance County Board of Elections, the absentee and early voting drew 632 voters, or just more than 6 percent of those registered.
In all, only 1,518 cast ballots.
Several of the candidates contacted Tuesday night expressed disappointment in turnout. Winners were roundly congratulatory of their opponents and offered thanks to voters for their support.
“I’m excited and I’m shocked really and just humbled that that many people voted for me,” Coffey said. “I’m so pleased. It’s hard to describe. I had no idea I’d get that percentage of people to vote for me.
“Charles was an excellent candidate and is a good person. He’s the nicest person ever. I’m shocked that I had that much percentage.”
Coffey said she felt a difference-maker was the work she has done in the past.
“I think my work has spoke for itself,” Coffey said.
Efforts to reach Douglas for reaction were unsuccessful.
“I appreciate the citizens of Henderson giving me their faith and trust,” Inscoe said. “I will represent all of the citizens of Henderson to the best of my ability.”
Booth said he knocked on more than 2,000 doors. And he said in hindsight he should have been out much sooner.
“I tried to hit all the polls,” Booth said. “It was slow, and then it picked up. I’m just disappointed folks didn’t show up.”
Booth offered thanks to his supporters. He said he noticed campaign signs “thrown everywhere” late in the campaign season. He said the race he ran was fair.
But he was not encouraged by the message he perceived from the community.
“I tried to help Henderson, but it’s like they don’t want no help,” Booth said. “I tried to create jobs, and people don’t want to work. That’s why Mike Inscoe won — people don’t want to work.
“I should have went to a couple of churches in the past eight or nine months, instead of going out the past three months. I know I knocked on 2,000 doors, and only 15 percent showed up. People don’t care.”
Daeke expressed surprise in his margin of victory.
“I did get out and tried to meet as many as I could,” Daeke said. “I’m honored and flattered.”
He, too, felt the turnout showed a disturbing trend.
“Overall, it was light, only 14 percent of the 10,000 voters,” Daeke said. “That always concerns me, when we don’t have a good deal of populous vote. I don’t know if they’re not in tune.
“We set tax rates, water and sewer rates, and other really important stuff. Local council people are ones you can look in the eye and talk to and get feedback. I wish more people would get out and vote.”
Champion said she was disappointed in an exchange she had with Daeke within earshot of voters at a polling station on Election Day. She also promised to run again in 2017.
“I ran a clean campaign,” Champion said. “I didn’t try to tarnish my opponent or his reputation. And I think I did good, especially with such a low turnout.
“I’m glad he won because he fought so hard for that position and did whatever he thought it took.”
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