Rheajean Benge

Rheajean Benge defeated incumbent Victor Varela in the race for Ronda mayor.

Ronda has a new mayor and all five Wilkes County commissioners are still Republicans, according to unofficial election results posted Tuesday night.

Wilkes County had a record 80.45% voter turnout (35,345 out of 43,934 registered voters). With 95% of the votes in (2,603 out of 2,662 precincts), the statewide voter turnout was 74.33%.

Incumbent Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was declared the winner in the North Carolina governor's race. Other incumbents who won races with challengers included U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, N.C. Sen. Deanna Ballard and N.C. Rep. Sarah Stevens.

Tuesday night, the race for president in North Carolina between Republican  Donald Trump, the incumbent, and Democrat Joe Biden was too close to call. Trump was listed with 2,729,743 votes (49.96%) and Biden with 2,654,390 (48.58%).

Results in the U.S. Senate seat race between incumbent Thom Tillis, a Republican, and Democrat Cal Cunningham also are close. Tillis had 2,638,123 votes (48.72%) to Cunningham's 2,542,731 (46.95%).

In Wilkes County

Rheajean Benge defeated incumbent Victor Varela, 100 to 80 in the race for Ronda mayor. Varela was seeking his fourth mayoral term. Benge was elected a commissioner in 2013, made an unsuccessful bid for mayor in 2015 and lost when she sought a Ronda commissioner seat in 2017. Kevin Reece and incumbent Sandra Simmons were elected Ronda commissioners Tuesday. Ronda races are non-partisan.

Republicans Casey Joe Johnson, Eddie Settle and Keith Elmore easily claimed the three Wilkes County commissioner seats on the ballot Tuesday.

Unofficial results listed Johnson with 24,929 votes (28.48%); Settle, 24,770 (28.30%) and Elmore with 22,241 (26.55%). Settle and Elmore are incumbents and Johnson is a first-time candidate. The two Democratic, first-time candidates, D. Jerome Watkins and Chalma W. Hunt, were listed with 7,395 (8.54%) and 7,193 (8.22%) votes respectively.

In the race for a seat on the Wilkes Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors, incumbent Charles Sink edged out Charles Porter 14,855 (50.22%) to 14,340 (48.48%).

A runner-up candidate for a statewide office can request and be granted a recount of ballots if the vote difference is 10,000 or fewer. For non-statewide contests, the difference between the candidates must be 1% or less of the total votes cast in the contest.

The Wilkes Board of Elections must still research eligibility of each provisional ballot, count eligible provisional and absentee by-mail ballots and conduct post-election audits and any necessary recounts.

Ballots are deemed provisional when an individual’s name doesn’t appear on the poll book or other questions arise about that person’s eligibility to vote or to vote a particular ballot.

There is speculation on the likelihood of numerous challenges in court nationwide, depending on election results.

One potential legal challenge in North Carolina concerns absentee, by-mail ballots. The issue is whether the state board’s procedure allowing absentee, by-mail ballot voters to “cure” (correct) errors on their ballot return envelopes complies with state law.

Tim Wigginton, N.C. GOP press secretary, said the N.C. Republican Party will challenge ballots that don’t comply with law.

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