Lincoln Times-News staff
Lincoln County residents went with Republican candidates in three of four Board of Education races on Tuesday’s ballot.
In District 1, Cathy Davis finished ahead of board member Tommy Houser and Nolan Nance. Mark Mullen defeated former board member Joan Avery and Todd Wulfhorst to take the at-large seat.
Former board member Tony Jenkins won as foregone conclusions after his opponent, board member George Dellinger, withdrew from the race.
The only bright spot for Democrats was the re-election of Ed Hatley, who will represent District 3 after narrowly defeated Anita McCall.
“I can breathe,” Davis told a crowd at Republican headquarters after learning of her victory. She said she was extremely nervous awaiting the results.
“I’m glad it’s over,” she said. She said she believed that exposing herself to the public and putting herself out there was her primary advantage in the race.
“I’m looking forward to digging in,” Davis said.
Democrats expressed particular disappointment in Houser’s defeat.
“I hate it so much for Houser,” Lincolnton City Council member Dr. John Cloninger told the Times-News. “I’ve been in politics for 13 or 14 years and to win is great. But when you lose, it hurts so badly. You give your time and give yourself up and then sometimes you get slapped down, and it hurts.”
County Democratic Party chair Deanna McGinnis echoed Cloninger’s comments. “We feel it’s a devastating loss for Lincoln County to lose Tommy Houser after all his years of service,” she said.
McGinnis she was pleased that Hatley, the current school board chairman, had been re-elected.
“It is wonderful to maintain our chairman,” she said. “That was very important to us.”
Hatley noted that the chair position would be up for a new appointment by the new board.
“At the December meeting we will vote for the chair position,” he said. “For now I’m just on the board. But I’m looking forward to serving the citizens of Lincoln County for another four years and doing what’s best for the kids. I’m excited about the opportunity.”
McCall, Hatley’s opponent, thanked her supporters and Republican headquarters despite her close but unsuccessful race.
“It was a good run,” she said.
Mullen and Jenkins also thank Republicans for backing their winning campaigns.
Mullen noted that one of his first goals will be to talk with teachers to find out what their needs are.
“I’m happy to be on the board again,” Jenkins told the Times-News. He said he thinks the Board of Education can do many things better.
“There’s a lot of work to do,” he said, noting that he’s ready to move forward.
He said board members have to agree to disagree and to butt heads — but in a positive way. “I’m ready to get in there,” Jenkins said.
Times-News staff members Frank Taylor, Amanda Sebastiano, Sarah Lowery and Michael Gebelein contributed to this report.