Tynes ousted in town election; challenger Rountree leads four-candidate field

Published 1:20 am Wednesday, May 20, 2020


By Stephen Faleski

Staff Writer

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Denise Tynes, who has served on Smithfield’s Town Council for the past 12 years, will be leaving her seat effective June 30 as a result of Tuesday’s election results.

In her place starting July 1 will be Renee Rountree, who was elected to her first term on the council with 729 votes to Tynes’ 527, according to unofficial results from the Isle of Wight County Registrar’s Office.

Rountree was unable to be reached for comment Tuesday night, but Tynes was, not unexpectedly, disappointed to learn of her loss.

“I gave this town 12 good years, and I want to thank all of those citizens that came out today, even in the bad weather, who voted for me,” Tynes said. “I lost, but I don’t think I lost. I think the citizens of Smithfield lost.”

She then added that she was most proud of having advocated for all the people of Smithfield, not just one particular group, during her time on the council.

Asked to choose from four candidates for three available seats, voters also reelected Michael Smith and Randy Pack, with Smith receiving 588 votes and Pack, 628. Write-ins – 14 in total – accounted for less than 1% of all votes.

While some voters chose to request mail-in ballots in light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, others still chose to vote in person at the Smithfield Center on North Church Street. Lisa Betterton, Isle of Wight County’s voter registrar, was unable to be reached by presstime as to how many absentee ballots were cast in the Smithfield election.

“I prefer to vote in person,” said voter Mike Willard, adding that he felt the precautions the Registrar’s Office had taken were adequate.

To ensure social distancing, the registrar’s office had worked with the Smithfield Police Department to restrict the center’s occupancy to no more than four voters at a time. Election officials also took precautions in light of the pandemic, each wearing masks and gloves, and spraying down each voting booth with a disinfectant between voters.

• • •

In an effort to facilitate social distancing, Surry County Voter Registrar Sharná White had mailed absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in each town in late April and early May. Despite this, only 62 mail-in ballots were cast, with that total including all three towns.

In-person voting was still allowed at each town’s polling location, but the number of voters allowed inside at any given time was restricted in light of the pandemic, with election officials sanitizing each voting booth and pencil in between voters. In-person voters were further instructed to maintain their distance from others while waiting in line.

In the town of Surry, Benny Junior Savedge was elected mayor with a total of 45 votes, having run unopposed on the ballot. Four write-in votes for mayor were cast.

Only two candidates – Robert Berryman and Joe Garcia – had filed to appear on the ballot for the town’s five available Town Council seats. Both incumbents were reelected, Berryman with 43 votes and Garcia with 39 votes. Write-ins – 74 in total – accounted for just over 47% of all votes, but White said the identities of the write-in candidates and how each fared individually won’t be reported until later today.

In the town of Dendron, Mayor Wallace Faison Jr. was re-elected with 45 votes, having run for the position unopposed. Five write-in votes for mayor were cast.

Only three candidates – W.E. “Bill” Richardson Jr., Edward Eugene Joyner and Kevin Spain – had filed for the town’s five available Town Council seats. Each was re-elected, with Richardson receiving 24 votes, Joyner receiving 38 and Spain receiving 41. Write-ins – 57 in total – accounted for just over 31% of all votes.

In the town of Claremont, Mayor George Lee Edwards was re-elected with 46 votes, having run unopposed. Each of the five candidates who had run for the five available Town Council seats was also elected, with Sue Gilbert receiving 52 votes, Phillip Yerby IV receiving 45, Rodney Dale Perkinson Jr. receiving 46, Jennifer Helton receiving 43 and John Ross receiving 46. All except Yerby and Helton were incumbent. A total of 21 write-in votes were cast – seven for mayor and 14 for Town Council.