Incumbents prevail in most July 26 local elections

Early voters wait to cast their ballots at the South Regional Library polling location in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RALEIGH — Incumbents won the majority of last Tuesday’s local elections in 15 of North Carolina counties. The summer elections, which were delayed due to the 2020 Census and legal wrangling over redistricting, saw light turnout, around 10-12% in each county. For many of the races, they will see the seats contested next year as well, following a state provision that extended the terms recently completed. Following the canvass of results by the State Board of Elections on Friday, Aug. 6, the certified winners will be sworn in to office. 


Democratic Mayor Vi Lyles cruised to another term as mayor of North Carolina’s largest city, defeating Republican Stephanie de Sarachaga-Bilbao with 68% of the vote. 

The four Democrats running for City Council at-large seats prevailed with Dimple Ajmera, Braxton Winston, LaWana Mayfield, and James “Smuggie” Mitchell winning over a slate of first-time candidates backed by Charlotte Republicans. 

In the city’s closest race, the contest for the 6th District seat held by Republican Tariq Bokhari, he held off Democratic nominee Stephanie Hand by 377 votes. Hand was backed by many of Bokhari’s colleagues on the city council including Mayor Lyles. 

The remainder of the City Council’s district races saw lopsided results, keeping a 9-2 Democratic advantage in representation in the Queen City. 


Mayor Mitch Colvin cruised to another term, winning 63% of the vote in last Tuesday’s election. 

The City Council will see some new faces as three incumbents were defeated, one seat was open, and one race remains too close to call. 

In District 3, Mario Benevente led incumbent Antonio Jones by just 6 votes and told local media outlets he would request a recount. Jones has only been on the city council since December of 2021 following the resignation of Tisha Waddell who had been accused of unethical misconduct by other council members. 

In District 6, Derrick Thompson was elected after also finishing first in the May primary.  

In Districts 7 and 9, newcomers Brenda McNair and Deno Hondros defeated incumbents Larry Wright and Yvonne Kinston. 


Mayor Nancy Vaughan prevailed for another term over councilman Justin Outling, who opted to challenge the two-term incumbent. Vaughan defeated Outling by just over 400 votes. A write-in campaign led by Greensboro Republicans for Chris Meadows could have swayed some voters in the race. 

In the race for the Gate City’s City Council, incumbents Yvonne Johnson, Marikay Abuzuaiter, and Hugh Holston secured another term. Challenger Katie Rossabi came the closest to scoring a win, trailing Holston by less than 600 votes. 

In the city’s city council district races, the results were the same as the May primary. Of note in those races is the return of Zack Matheny to the city council, where he previously served from 2007 through 2015. 

Wake County 

In Wake County, Cary held runoff races for the town council’s at-large seat and District C seat.  

Carissa Johnson received 7,211 votes, edging out Ken George’s total of 6,485 votes. Jack Smith won the District C spot with 3,101 votes to the 2,540 cast for Renee Miller. 

While the town council races remained close, there was a huge difference in the runoff race for Wake Sheriff as challenger Willie Rowe took in a whopping 75.35% of the vote, ousting current Sheriff Gerald Baker as the Democratic candidate. Lowe will face former Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison in November. Harrison won the Republican primary in May with 50,606 votes or nearly 80% of ballots cast. 

Graham County 

The second runoff the office of sheriff was in Graham County, where Republicans chose Russell Moody over incumbent sheriff Jerry Crisp. Moody took 467 votes over 403 for Moody.