Stevens, Ballard win legislative primaries

By Tom Joyce -
Stevens -
Ballard -

One incumbent state legislator representing Surry County will advance to the general election in November, while another has lost her re-election bid, as a result of Republican primaries on Tuesday.

Rep. Sarah Stevens, who lives in Surry, easily withstood a challenge from another local resident, Allen Poindexter, to win her party’s nomination for the 90th District seat in the House, where she has served for nearly a decade.

However, Sen. Shirley Randleman, a Wilkes County resident who has represented Surry County in the state Senate since replacing the late Don East on the GOP ticket after his death just before the 2012 election, will not be returning to Raleigh after her present term ends.

Randleman lost to fellow Republican Sen. Deanna Ballard for the party nomination for Senate District 45.

Both local legislative districts involved in the primary voting are reflecting facelifts necessitated by redistricting.

House result

In commenting on the election results Tuesday night, Rep. Stevens expressed gratitude for the continuing confidence voters showed in her.

“I think the citizens have spoken and they’ve spoken loudly,” she said.

As a result of the state legislative redistricting to go into effect after this year’s election cycle, the 90th District of the N.C. House of Representatives will include part of Surry County (18 precincts), a portion of Wilkes County and all of Alleghany County. This covers 34 precincts in all.

Stevens won by a wide margin over Poindexter in every county involved, an overall total of 4,038 to 2,027 votes, according to unofficial results, a margin of 67 to 33 percent. She captured Surry County by a tally of 2,581 to 1,104.

“I think it was experience,” the incumbent said in dissecting reasons for the outcome. “I think experience does count.”

Stevens rejected an implication by Poindexter of being a career politician, saying she always has spent more time listening to constituent concerns than campaigning, particularly in recent days.

A longtime attorney who lives in Mount Airy, Stevens now will face Democrat John Worth Wiles of Elkin in the Nov. 6 general election. Wiles, an automatic nominee due to facing no primary opposition, lost to Stevens in the 2014 general election.

“I will stand by my values,” Stevens said of looking ahead to that encounter, “and will get out and meet the people.”

The incumbent has served in the N.C. House since 2009 and now is seeking her sixth two-year term. She became speaker pro tem of the House last year.

Poindexter, 40, is a resident of the Beulah community who owns and operates a graphics arts business and ran unsuccessfully for Surry County commissioner in 2016.

He was gracious in defeat Tuesday night.

“First of all, I’d like to congratulate my opponent,” Poindexter said.

He added that Stevens’ name recognition was a major factor in the outcome, one that was not what he had hoped.

“But it is what it is,” the challenger said in taking a philosophical approach toward the matter. “Life goes on.”

The 90th District now includes all of Surry and a portion of Wilkes County. With the redistricting, 11 Surry County precincts will move to District 90 now represented by Kyle Hall of King. He had no primary opposition.

Senate showdown

Tuesday’s primary between Randleman and Ballard represented the unusual situation of two sitting Republican senators squaring off against each other for their party’s nomination for the newly configured 45th Senate District. It basically meshes existing territories of each.

Redistricting left both women residing in District 45, which after the November election will include 15 precincts in Surry located in the western three-fourths of the county, and all of Wilkes, Alleghany and Watauga counties. This covers 84 precincts altogether.

Unofficial totals showed Ballard winning with a vote count of 8,364 to 7,238, or 54 to 46 percent. Randleman won big in her home county of Wilkes and in Surry (1,829 to 1,091).

Ballard, however, took Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties by wide margins.

Randleman’s present 30th District includes Surry, Wilkes and Stokes counties.

Waiting in the wings for the November general election is Democrat Brandon Anderson of Millers Creek in Wilkes County, who had no party opposition.

Randleman, 67, of Wilkesboro, is now completing her third term in the N.C. Senate representing the 30th District, and before that served in the House from 2009-2013.

She also is a former clerk of Superior Court in Wilkes County, and an employee in the clerk’s office for more than 34 years altogether.

Randleman could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Ballard, 39, of Blowing Rock, who has served as District 45 senator since 2016, is employed as director of public policy for Samaritan’s Purse in Boone, which is affiliated with the Rev. Franklin Graham.

Her 45th District presently includes Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell and Watauga counties.

Due to the redistricting, 14 precincts now in Surry have been switched to a new District 30 seat for which Sen. Phil Berger is running. Berger, whose present 26th District now includes Guilford and Rockingham counties, was not opposed in Tuesday’s primary for District 30, which after this year will cover eastern Surry along with Stokes, Rockingham and Caswell counties.



By Tom Joyce

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.