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Runoff election to choose next mayor

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Sandy Roberson, left, and Bronson Williams will advance to a runoff election for mayor in November.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Sandy Roberson and Bronson Williams are on their way to a runoff on Nov. 5 in the contest for mayor of Rocky Mount.

In unofficial results on Tuesday, Roberson was ahead with 4,718 votes, or 48.2 percent, but he failed to get more than 50 percent of the vote to win outright. Williams received 2,652 votes, or slightly more than 27 percent.

Finishing third was Kevin Jones, who received 2,263 votes, or slightly more than 23.1 percent. Finishing fourth was Robert Lee Alston, who received 142 votes, or nearly 1.5 percent.

Fourteen people cast write-in votes.

Roberson, in a prepared statement, expressed appreciation to the voters in the city and said he was proud of the support he and his campaign received.

“While we did not capture the magic 50 percent tonight, I will gladly take 48 percent and get ready for round two with a runoff in November,” Roberson said.

“Folks, here’s what we are facing in November — a candidate who wants to maintain the status quo or a candidate who will embrace change and hold City Hall accountable,” he said.

“I can tell you that the citizens of Rocky Mount are fed up with failing schools, rising crime, declining home values and unemployment above the state average,” he said. “We know the status quo is not working for our city — it is time for a change.

“I will make the campaign over the next few weeks a campaign about new leadership and a new direction for the city of Rocky Mount,” he said. “This campaign isn’t about Sandy Roberson — it’s about you, it’s about the future of Rocky Mount. I look forward to a vigorous campaign and winning in November.”

Williams, when reached by the Telegram, said, “We thought that tonight would have solidified the race.”

Williams said he believes the outcome means he and his team have about four weeks to go back through the same process.

“But we’re ready to put in the work,” Williams said.

Williams said when he and his team saw the count on Tuesday based on the early votes, “It was not as what I projected them to be, but nevertheless, by the time the end of the night came, the support in Edgecombe County grew.”

He said he believes the returns from Edgecombe County brought Roberson under the 50-percent mark.

He said elected officials and those who have been in many past campaigns advised him they believed there would be a runoff between him and Roberson.

As for what he thinks is going to be needed to push to victory, he said making sure voters understand his message is about unity and having a united front.

“And so I hope that people can see the unity in my message,” he said.

The city’s chief executive position is coming open because incumbent David Combs decided not to seek re-election.

Combs first was elected to the council in 2003 before being elected the city’s chief executive in 2007. Combs presently is in the real estate business.

Roberson is managing partner of HealthView Capital Partners, which is an investment group engaging in the acquisition of companies. Roberson also has served as CEO of Community Home Care and Hospice, which was a firm he started.

Williams owns television station WNCR. Williams was an unsuccessful candidate for a position in the state House in 2014 and for mayor in 2015.

Jones is founder and president of the BAC Scholarship Fund, which is an educational nonprofit group in Rocky Mount. Jones also is a policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Alston is a Navy veteran who has been barbering off and on for 25 years.

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