The 30th District N.C. Senate seat no longer will be filled by someone from Surry County as a result of Tuesday’s election in which Shirley Randleman defeated Ric Marshall.
Randleman’s victory was actually her second in three days for the Senate seat affecting Surry and two other counties.
On Sunday, area Republicans had selected her to replace the late Sen. Don East on the ticket, as a result of East dying of complications from back surgery on Oct. 22. This came after ballots containing the name of East, a veteran senator from Pilot Mountain, already had been printed.
That means Randleman, a present member of the N.C. House of Representatives who was not seeking re-election to her seat, was credited with all votes cast for East in the three counties, which also include Stokes and Wilkes.
Unofficial totals showed Randleman capturing 49,082 votes compared to 27,186 for her Democratic opponent Marshall, a 51-year-old resident of Ararat in Surry County who is the president of Southland Logistics, a general freight trucking company.
That represented a margin of 64 to 36 percent of the ballots cast. Randleman won big in all three counties, including Surry, where she captured 66 percent of the votes, 16,988, compared to Marshall’s 10,944.
The winner’s reaction Tuesday night to the election outcome and the events of recent days — including the death of East — was bittersweet.
“I have mixed emotions about it, just the overall election, because Don was one of my dearest friends,” Randleman said. “And it’s kind of difficult to go into an election like this — I only had a couple of days to prepare.”
Randleman, 62, is a resident of Wilkesboro who has served two terms in the N.C. House of Representatives’ District 94, which includes Wilkes County. She is a retired clerk of Superior Court in Wilkes who held that position for nearly 11 years and logged more than 34 years in the clerk’s office altogether.
Wilkes County became a player in the Senate seat that covers Surry County due to a redistricting plan that was approved in the wake of the 2010 U.S. Census. The 30th District now includes Surry, Stokes, Yadkin and Alleghany counties, but is changing to Surry, Stokes and Wilkes as a result of the redistricting.
It goes into effect when members of the Legislature are sworn in to office in January.
“I just look forward to serving the people of the district,” Randleman added Tuesday night. “I am a constituent-oriented person.”
Randleman earlier had opted not to seek re-election to her present House seat because of family issues at that time, but said Tuesday night that she had discussed with East the possibility of one day replacing him as senator.
“We had that discussion last January,” Randleman added, which she said was based on East’s intent to seek only one more term and his desire to have her run in his place. She pledged to maintain his leadership.
“Sen. East was well-respected and I know I have the responsibility of carrying on his conservative legacy — and that’s what I intend to do.”
Randleman’s Democratic opponent, Marshall, said Tuesday night that Republican unity overall among the three counties was a key factor in the election outcome.
“It’s just tough when you’re up against 70-percent straight-party ticket voting,” said Marshall, who had charged in the days leading up to the election that citizens in the 30th District have not been getting the representation they deserved.
He also had blamed the GOP-controlled N.C. General Assembly for deep cuts in educational funding, and jeopardizing future economic development due to students not receiving proper training to meet employer needs.
“We’re really going to struggle in the next two years,” the Democratic candidate predicted Tuesday night with the votes counted. “This conservatism is really going to affect North Carolina.”
Marshall also reiterated his concern for the impending impact on education. “I’m just scared to death with what’s going to happen to our school system,” the Surry resident said, adding that he hopes the state can withstand two more years of budget cuts.
However, the runner-up in Tuesday’s race made a point of expressing sympathy for the family of Sen. East and the need for everyone to continue thinking about what it has faced in recent weeks.
“It’s been a tough time for them.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or email@example.com.