Saturday, November 10, 2018

The North Carolina "Seven": New Black Sheriffs Elected Last Tuesday

Paula Dance, Pitt County
Paula Dance, Pitt County, became the first African-American female sheriff in the state of North Carolina and only the fifth in the entire country. She was already a major in the sheriff's office, running for an open seat. She has 28 years of law enforcement experience, 26 of those in the Pitt County department.

Quentin Miller, Buncombe County, 25-year veteran of the Asheville Police Dept., won with over 61% of the vote against both a Republican and a Libertarian. It too was an open seat, and the Libertarian had been jailed on a stalking charge in September.

Ennis Wright, Cumberland County, was already serving as an appointed sheriff following the retirement of a fellow Democrat. Wright won on Tuesday with more than 63% of the vote.

Bobby Kimbrough Jr., Forsyth County, defeated 5-term Republican incumbent Bill Schatzman with 53% of the vote. Kimbrough is a retired agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration. “People are ready for change,” Kimbrough said. “This race wasn’t about me, and it wasn’t about him [Schatzman]. It’s about building some bridges.”

Gerald Baker, Wake County, "in a stunning upset," defeated 4-term Sheriff Donnie Harrison. The 55-45 winning margin made it doubly stunning. Baker had worked for the Wake County Sheriff's Department for 28 years, 15 of those under Harrison. Harrison had partnered in and defended a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that meant transferring people to federal custody who have been arrested and were believed to be in the U.S. illegally. Baker was critical of the program.

Danny Rogers, in Guilford County, ended the 24-year reign of Sheriff B J Barnes, a politician so powerful he was considered unbeatable. (That was Monday. Wednesday, people were thinking otherwise.) Rogers took 53% of the vote.

Clarence Birkhead, in Durham County, had virtually won the office back in the primary, taking some 69% of the vote against an unpopular white incumbent, and faced only write-in votes last Tuesday.

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