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After weeks of frantic campaigning by incumbent Mayor Bruce Rose and challenger Carlton Stevens, voters opted for a fresh face over experience.
“I think it was the simple fact that I talked about ‘One Wilson,’ growing as one. That was on the minds of a lot of people and that is what they wanted,” Stevens said. “Wilson is a city of love and love trumps hate all day long. They wanted change, and that is what they are getting.”
According to preliminary results from the Wilson County Board of Elections, Stevens garnered 51.7% of the vote while Rose captured 48.25% across 18 city precincts.
The father of six awaited news with loved ones at Westview Lanes, bowling a few games to relieve the anxiety until results came in. He said he preferred to mix it up on election night rather than host a formal dinner.
“I’m just elated. I’m just happy,” he said, noting he hadn’t really thought about the fact that he would break the barrier to become the city’s first black mayor. “I know I have a lot of work to do and I have humongous shoes to fill, but I’m ready. I’m so ready.”
Rose was at Something Different on Airport Boulevard with his supporters as results were released.
“I’m happy. I’m not sad I lost. I’m disappointed a little bit, but the people voted,” he said. “I hope that he can keep our city moving forward. We have got a lot of good things going and I hope he’ll work with the council to move the city forward.”
Rose said he looks forward to relaxing a bit, spending time with his grandchildren in Charlotte, but said he will continue to be involved to help the city however possible.
“I’m really proud of my career with the city,” Rose said. “I’ve had 68 years serving the city of Wilson and I couldn’t ask for a better group of people.”
Stevens said he looks forward to getting to work to unite the city, especially to bring development and investment to east Wilson. He said his first order of business is to schedule a forum in each of the city’s seven districts to speak with council members and residents about what is working and what isn’t. From there, he said he’d like to develop a plan of action to tackle issues that traverse the city and drill down to district-wide complaints.
“I’m so excited. I’m humbled to have this opportunity because it is a dream come true,” Stevens said. “I’m going to give Wilson my all. I’ll give my entire heart and everything to make this position work for our city and take our community to another level.”