After a nearly 14-hour recount, Wilson County elections officials sustained Rep. Susan Martin’s Election Day victory in the N.C. House District 8 race Thursday night.
Martin, R-Wilson, defeated Democratic challenger Charlie Pat Farris, with results in Wilson and Pitt counties canceling each other out. Martin gained one vote in Pitt County’s recount held Wednesday and Farris earned an extra vote in Wilson.
Officials tallied ballots by hand in a marathon recount begun at 9 a.m. and completed around 10:30 p.m.
Farris won Pitt County precincts in the district with 8,981 votes to Martin’s 8,512, according to Elections Director Dave Davis. Final figures for Wilson County were unavailable at press time.
“I appreciate the trust the voters have placed in me and pledge to keep working hard on behalf of all families,” Martin told The Wilson Times after vote canvasses in both counties held Nov. 22.
Farris, a well-known Wilson attorney, called for a recount after canvass results saw him trailing by just 163 votes. He said the request was made out of respect for his supporters to ensure he saw the race through to its conclusion.
“I thank the good Lord for allowing me to go after my dream,” Farris said last month, explaining that he’s wanted to serve in the General Assembly since age 18. “Most people have a dream and never get a chance to go after it.”
Martin, who campaigned on the Republican-led legislature’s economic reforms that resulted in statewide job growth and education policy that led to teacher pay raises, will return to Raleigh for a third term when the General Assembly convenes Jan. 11.
As she rolls up her sleeves, Martin said modifying state law to allow Wilson’s Greenlight municipal broadband service to keep its customers in the town of Pinetops and Vick Family Farms in rural Nash County connected to its high-speed fiber-optic network will be a high priority.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in August that Wilson is bound to abide by a state law limiting city- and county-owned broadband providers’ service territories and that the Federal Communications Commission overstepped when it gave Greenlight the go-ahead to disregard the law and extend its footprint.
In late October, Martin announced she and Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, would seek a legislative exemption allowing Greenlight to continue serving its existing out-of-county customers. Martin and Brown co-chaired the Joint Legislative Economic Development and Global Engagement Oversight Committee in the General Assembly’s 2015-16 session.
Campaign finance reports show Martin raised nearly $462,000 for her re-election campaign through the third quarter of 2016, while Farris took in more than $135,000.
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