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Parker elected, makes history

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Mayor-elect Bettie Parker raises her arms in victory as she enters the Island Breeze Grill where her supporters were waiting for her to arrive Tuesday night. Parker won Elizabeth City's mayor race on Tuesday, becoming the first woman ever elected the city's mayor.

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From staff reports

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Bet­tie Parker made his­tory once again on Tues­day, be­com­ing the first woman ever elected mayor of El­iz­a­beth City.

Parker, the first black woman ever elected to the Pasquotank County Board of Com­mis­sion­ers three years ago, de­feated Sam Davis III, a lo­cal Real­tor, by more than 800 votes in Tuesday’s municipal election.

According to unofficial results, Parker collected 1,584 votes or 67.55 percent to Davis’ 756 votes or 32 percent. Parker will be sworn in as the city’s new mayor in December, succeeding Joe Peel, who elected not to seek a fourth two-year term.

Surrounded by supporters at a campaign party Tuesday night, Parker said her history-making victory was still sinking in.

"Oh my goodness, so many things are running through my mind right now," she said. She and her campaign staff worked very hard to win, "and tonight, I feel it was worth it," she added.

Parker, a retired educator, said she was humbled and inspired to have so many voters support her — even those with little to give. One man had only $3 to contribute to her campaign, but insisted she take it, she noted.

With voters placing their trust in her, Parker also pledged, "I plan on doing on awesome job."

Parker thanked Davis for running a genuinely cordial race.

Davis could not be reached for comment Tuesday night. 

Parker built a commanding lead earlier in the evening Tuesday following release of early voting totals. She collected 1,146 early votes to Davis’ 525 early votes. She also defeated Davis in every city voting precinct, carrying the East precinct by more than 300 votes and the South precinct by nearly 250 votes.

Some of those who voted for Parker on Tuesday said they had history on their minds. Others said they voted for Parker because they knew her and believed her to be the best candidate. Some thought her past experience as an educator would be a large benefit to the city.  

Interviewed outside her polling station on Tuesday, First Ward voter Beverly Powell said she voted for Parker, noting the historic nature of her candidacy. 

T’Shawn Gorham, a Fourth Ward voter, said she cast her ballot for Parker because Parker was once a schoolteacher of hers.

“I think she’ll be a great mayor,” she said.

Just before stepping into River Road Middle School to vote, Zach Commander, a 1991 graduate of Northeastern High School, said he was going to vote for Parker because he knew her when she taught there.

"She has provided her dedication to the city and the community for years," he said.

Over at the Knobbs Creek Recreation Center, Second Ward voter Patrick Detwiler, 49, a marketing director, said he voted for Parker because he knew her from her prior service on the Albemarle Hospital Board of Commissioner, adding that he respects her experience as a teacher.

Facing a classroom of unruly children is good preparation for maintaining order and decorum at council meetings, according to Detwiler.

"I think her experience in teaching children will help with City Council," Detwiler said.

A voter at Mt. Hermon precinct said he voted for Parker because he recalled her as "an awesome teacher" and described her as "a pillar of the community."

The voter also believes Parker was the best candidate to bring an often-divided council together.

"I think it'll be a change for the better" if she’s elected, he said.

Another voter, Rebecca McKee, said she voted for Parker because they shared similar views.

"I'm a teacher myself, so I feel a lot of my ideals line up with hers," McKee said.

McKee also said she agreed with Parker's support for relocating Pasquotank County's Confederate monument; Davis has said the public should decide that issue.

Over at Pasquotank Elementary School, Third Ward voters Leslie and Carolyn Williams said they, too, voted for Parker.

A 60-year-old woman who voted in the 3rd Ward said she voted for Parker because of her experience as a teacher.

"She has been in the school system already," she said. "And plus I remember her from when I was growing up.

Voters who cast ballots for Davis said they did so because they knew him through personal connections. Others said they liked his generosity to others. Still other voters thought he’d be the best candidate to replace Peel, whom Davis lost to in the 2015 mayoral election.   

Dot Lane, a First Ward voter and lifelong Elizabeth City resident, said she had voted for Davis, saying she's known him since he was a young man working in his father's business, and she trusted his character and work ethic.

“He takes after his father,” she commented.

First Ward voter Alvin Boone, a pastor at Melton Grove Baptist Church in Winfall, said he, too, voted for Davis. He recalled Davis coming to his church last year and, without making fanfare, donating to help a family burned out of their home.

Another voter said she voted for Davis for similar reasons, explaining she had seen him act selflessly on behalf of others numerous times.

“He’s giving, thoughtful man,” she said.

Second Ward voter Pam Flowers backed Davis for mayor, saying "Peel has done a great job as mayor so I want to see the great job keep going."

Peel endorsed Parker for mayor but Flowers decided it was Davis who was best suited to continue Peel's legacy.

"I think he has a lot of the same beliefs that Joe Peel has and I think that's the way to move forward,” she said.

One First Ward voter, who asked not to be named, said she planned to vote for Davis, whom she's known for many years. 

A 50-year-old man who voted in the 3rd Ward said he was concerned about the local economy. He voted for Davis.

"I think he will do a better job of getting the businesses and getting jobs around here," he said.

A 49-year-old woman who voted in the 3rd Ward said she was most concerned about electric bills and the city's utility billing crisis. She, too, voted for Davis.

"Be consistent for us," she said. "Don't decide when you want to mail us a light bill and then have it fluctuate."

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