DURHAM — With only mail and absentee ballots left to count in the race for Durham county commissioner, the five Democrats nominated in the May primary handily defeated independent challenger Omar Beasley. Results remain unofficial until certified by the Board of Elections next week.
Brenda Howerton won a second term on the county board, leading the six-candidate field with 18.89 percent of the vote
“I’m excited and thankful to the voters for their trust, and I look forward to serving them for another four years,” said Howerton, who watched returns come in at a supporter’s home.
Wendy Jacobs, in her first campaign for elective office, finished slightly behind Howerton with 18.84 percent.
Michael Page, the commissioners’ current chairman, ran fifth in the primary but finished in third place Tuesday with 18.66 percent. Incumbent Ellen Reckhow had 18.58 percent and newcomer Fred Foster won the fifth seat with 18.13.
Beasley, a bail bondsman and volunteer track coach, brought up the rear with 6.89 percent.
Although he is a registered Democrat, Beasley ran as an independent candidate and collected more than 7,000 signatures on a petition last summer to gain a place on the general-election ballot. His presence there created a degree of drama for a contest that appeared to have been settled in the primary, since no Republicans filed for election.
In his first try for elective office, Beasley won endorsement by the Friends of Durham and the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.
The Durham Committee had endorsed Foster in the spring. Its other endorsements went to Howerton and Page. The Friends of Durham also endorsed Howerton and Page, as well as Reckhow.
Durham’s third major political-action committee, the Durham People’s Alliance, endorsed Foster, Jacobs and Reckhow.
Campaigning during early voting was so heated that the Durham County Board of Elections asked candidates and their supporters to attend a meeting on civility. Twice, police were called to eject campaign workers from voting sites; one of those incidents involved a Beasley worker and a Democratic Party campaigner.
The five winners begin their terms Dec. 3.