Tony Jenkins appears slated for victory in his bid to return to the Lincoln County Board of Education, following a change in how elections officials will handle the withdrawal of his opponent.
Jenkins, a Lincolnton Republican who had previously served on the board from 2000 to 2008, was due to face current board member George Dellinger, an Iron Station Republican, in this fall’s election for the new District 4 seat.
However, county Elections Director Bill Beam announced last week that Dellinger had indicated he would withdraw from the race. Initially Beam indicated that Dellinger’s votes would have to be counted because absentee ballots have already gone out. If Dellinger had won under that plan, then the Board of Education would have had to select someone else to fill that seat.
But Beam announced Monday that he has decided it would be improper to count votes for Dellinger at all, following advice he received from North Carolina Board of Elections General Counsel Don Wright.
Wright wrote that because state law neither allows nor denies the right of candidates for nonpartisan offices to withdraw, the state has since 1988 had a policy of allowing such withdrawals and not counting votes cast for that candidate.
Jenkins can’t quite claim the seat yet, since a write-in slot will appear on the ballot and in theory a write-in candidate could defeat him. However, with no such candidate having come forward three weeks before the election, that appears unlikely.
Jenkins told the Times-News on Tuesday that after initially hearing about Dellinger’s withdrawal he was still “going to campaign until the end.” Jenkins said that’s still his plan, which should help voters to get to know him and the issues on which he’s running.
Dellinger’s family has told the Times-News that he has been dealing with health problems.
“Right now, my thought is with George,” Jenkins said, emphasizing that he wasn’t ever running against Dellinger but only seeking the same seat.
Jenkins said he didn’t seek a third term in 2008 because he didn’t want to become “complacent.”
“Maybe I’ll see some new things now that I have been off for four years,” Jenkins said.
“I’ll do what’s right. The children will always be my priority.”