SMITHFIELD — Incumbents in the Johnston County Board of Education race easily retained their seats Tuesday night.
With all but two precincts reporting, the four incumbents – Keith Branch of Smithfield; Donna White of Clayton; Peggy Smith of McGee’s Crossroads and Mike Wooten of Smithfield – swept the top spots in the polls. White led the way with 37,593 votes, followed by Branch at 36,164. Smith had 36,781, and Wooten had 35,242 votes.
The three challengers – Dave Tuttle, Jamie Guerrero and Dade Sherman – have run for the board before. Guerrero of Clayton is a county employee who ran unsuccessfully in 2010. Sherman of Smithfield works in the county probation office. Tuttle, who lives in north Johnston County, is a retired salesman and school volunteer who served on the board from 1994 to 1998.
The election came at a crucial time for the district, which faces an overcrowding problem. Projections show the district could have an additional 7,000 students by 2020. Superintendent Ed Croom has proposed about $114 million in expansions and improvements; the school board is now working with county commissioners to set building priorities.