Incumbents returned to Board of Commissioners

Three incumbent members of the Pitt County Board of Commissioners held off challengers in Tuesday’s election, according to complete but unofficial totals.

Republicans Lauren White and Tom Coulson held off challenges with more than 60 percent of the vote in their districts while Democrat Beth Ward retained her seat with 52 percent of the vote.

White earned 9,493 votes in District 6 and Democrat Jerry Cox earned 5,794 votes. District 6 includes Ayden, Grifton and parts of Winterville and Greenville.

White, a mother and farmer from Black Jack, was appointed to the board in February. She said she will continue to focus on education, public safety and economic development in small towns.

“I’m very, very excited for these results,” she said. “I’m truly humbled and I’m just really excited. I have so much support and help, my supporters have really got out there, they have supported me and voted for me and been there for me every step of the way, and that’s just a really great feeling.”

Ward earned 17,168 votes while Republican Betsy Flanagan garnered 15,687 votes. District C includes western Pitt County and consists of Farmville, Fountain, Falkland and parts of Greenville and Winterville.

Ward, a retired public school principal and retired lecturer with East Carolina University, was appointed to the Board of Commissioners in 1998 to fill the unexpired term of Edith Warren, who was elected to the General Assembly.

She will continue to focus on education, law enforcement and development for the next four years, she said following her win.

“Once I get into the job, it’s like a job to me, and it doesn’t matter party or what, you’re serving the whole county and we have to make a lot of decisions that are going to affect everybody in the county,” Ward said. “And I really like serving as a county commissioner and I feel like I grow and learn every year and I look forward to the next four years.”

Coulson won District B by earning 16,356 votes to unaffiliated candidate Daniel Van Liere’s 10,419 votes. District B seat represents a large portion of southern Pitt County.

Coulson said his opponent kept the race honest and dignified.

“I’m pleased,” he said. “I’m glad that the people see that I’ve served a number of years and I’ve tried to be a good county commissioner for all of the citizens. I love the county, I love the people.”

Coulson first was elected to the board in 2000. He lost re-election in 2008, but voters returned him to the board in 2012. The win positions Coulson for his fifth and expected final term. During his upcoming term he plans to push an initiative to decrease the poverty level in Pitt County.

“I don’t expect that I will run again,” he said. “I will be 75 at that time and it’s time to, I think it’s going to be time to step down. Hopefully, we’ll have somebody that I can turn the reigns over to and support and help get elected, but we’ll see.”

By Elizabeth Johnson
The Daily Reflector

Pictured L to R: Tom Coulson, Beth Ward, Lauren White