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Retired teacher Linda Cooper-Suggs has been a member of the General Assembly since late July, and voters have selected the 67-year-old to serve for the next two years, according to unofficial election results.*
“I want to say thank you to my community for their confidence in me,” Cooper-Suggs said. “I am proud that voters responded to our campaign’s vision of what North Carolina can be.”
According to early voting, Election Day ballots and the mail-in ballots processed so far, Cooper-Suggs garnered 52.57% of the votes while Republican challenger Mick Rankin received 47.43% of the tally to represent District 24 in the N.C. House of Representatives.
Executives in the local Democratic Party appointed Cooper-Suggs to finish the remainder of former Rep. Jean Farmer Butterfield’s term as well as replace her on the ticket. She said she appreciated Rankin’s candidacy and his contributions to the discussion around issues important to voters.
“Well, I appreciate all the hard work everybody has done. It certainly has not gone unnoticed,” Rankin said at a Republican watch party at the Wilson Elks Lodge. “I know it is bittersweet, but it is what it is. Elections are about the will of the people, not the will of the candidate.”
Rankin served for four decades in the U.S. Navy and now has a ranch on 35 acres in Wilson County.
“I’ve got to decide whether I’ll make another run at this, but tonight is not the night to make that decision,” he said. “But for the 18,724 people that voted for me, I owe them the commitment that I’m not going to give up.”
Cooper-Suggs watched the results come in with loved ones rather than having a gathering due to COVID-19 concerns. She said her priorities when the General Assembly reconvenes will be schools, health care and COVID-19 relief.
“This was a historic election for House District 24 with a record number of voters making their voices heard,” she concluded in a prepared statement. “The voters of Wilson County have shown that they are ready to join together and address the many issues facing our community, and I am ready to be a voice that represents all of us in the 24th House District.”
There are nearly 2,500 Wilson County mail-in ballots yet to be counted. All voters opting to vote by mail had to have ballots postmarked by Election Day, but ballots can be received and counted until Nov. 12.
* = CORRECTION, Nov. 4, 1:02 a.m. — A previous version of this story misstated the length of a North Carolina House term. State legislators in the House and Senate serve for two years, not four. The story above has been corrected. The Times regrets the error.