Status of New Bern Municipal Election – Will there be Runoffs?

New Bern City Hall

The Municipal Election for the City of New Bern and NC Primary Election was on May 17, 2022. Let’s explore what happens next.

Prior to the election, we asked Director Meloni Wray, Craven County Board of Elections (CC BOE), when the Board of Aldermen would be seated and she responded, “The elected officials for the City of New Bern cannot be sworn in until after they receive the official Certificate of Election. We have 6 days to issue these after the canvass of the election. Canvass for the May 17 election is May 27. If there is a runoff for any races it will be July 26 with the canvass being August 5. “The City of New Bern will set the date for the swearing in of the new elected officials.”

We followed up with an email to Director Wray on May 19, 2022, asking her to review this article prior to publishing.

The only clear winner was Bob Brinson for Alderman of Ward 6. Wray added, “Barbara Best for Alderman Ward 5, Johnnie Ray Kinsey for Alderman Ward 4, and Bobby Aster for Alderman Ward 3 were unopposed and elected.”

Ballots are still being counted and it’s probable that Alderman Jeffrey Odham and Toussaint Summers, Jr. for Mayor; Sabrina Bengel (Incumbent) and Rick Prill for Alderman Ward 1; and Jennell Reddick and Hazel Royal for Alderman Ward 2 are the candidates going forward.

To determine the results, we turned to NC § 163-293, “…When more than one person is seeking election to a single office, the majority shall be ascertained by dividing the total vote cast for all candidates by two. Any excess of the sum so ascertained shall be a majority, and the candidate who obtains a majority shall be declared elected…”.

Meloni Wray explained, “There are 66 Provisional ballots to be considered and 154 outstanding absentee ballots (77 of which are City of New Bern Ballots) that need to be counted.” This will not affect the outcome. A runoff election is expected for Mayor and Alderman for Ward 1 and 2.

Once the CC BOE completes the canvass, the candidate with the least number of votes has until 12 noon on June 2, 2022, to file for a runoff. If they don’t, the person with the majority of votes will be elected.

What happens if there’s a tie?

Per NC § 163-293, the CC BOE will conduct a recount and declare the results. If there’s a tie, the runoff will be between the two candidates with the highest number of votes as long as no one withdrawals. If that happens, the remaining candidate will be declared elected.

Candidates with the highest number of votes in a runoff election will be elected. “If in a runoff election there is a tie for the highest number of votes between two candidates, the board of elections shall determine the winner by lot.”

We asked candidates in contested races for statements and two responded:

“I am honored and humbled that so many citizens have placed their faith in me and the ideas that I have expressed throughout this campaign. Together we will bring new ideas to the governance of the city. Those who voted for me voted for inclusion, transparency, accountability, and open communication. Those principles will be the foundation of my time in office.  It is my intention to truly listen to the communities and to bring people together.” – Toussaint E Summers, Jr.

“I am very excited with the election results. My candidacy was based on offering Ward 1 with a choice, and having received 506 votes, is a solid showing. I see a strong message coming out of the Primary. Over 700 voters in Ward 1 voted for change. I will build on this message over the next two months. I have submitted my Runoff election request and invite everyone interested to join me in achieving the desired change.” – Rick Prill

Food for thought:

There were a lot of people talking about low voter turnout. Here’s the actual numbers (with the exception of 77 Ballots that are pending):


5/17/2022 – 5759 Ballots cast

10/10/2017 – 3759 Ballots cast

Alderman Ward 1

5/17/2022 – 1347 Ballots cast

10/10/2017 – 799 Ballots cast

Alderman Ward 2

5/17/2022 – 691 Ballots cast

10/10/2017 – 329 Ballots cast  (Uncontested including misc. and write-ins)

Alderman Ward 3

5/17/2022 – 998 Ballots cast  (Uncontested including misc. and write-ins)

10/10/2017 – 822 Ballots cast

Alderman Ward 4

5/17/2022 – 562 Ballots cast  (Uncontested including misc. and write-ins)

10/10/2017 – 516 Ballots cast

Alderman Ward 5

5/17/2022 – 486 Ballots cast  (Uncontested including misc. and write-ins)

10/10/2017 – 393 Ballots cast

Alderman Ward 6

5/17/2022 – 1338 Ballots cast

10/10/2017 – 721 Ballots cast  (Uncontested including misc. and write-ins)

Thank you, Meloni Wray, staff, and volunteers. We appreciate your work.

Questions or comments, send us an email.

By Wendy Card, Editor