Updated at 3:08 p.m. to correct the date of the swearing in.
The two incumbents and the three other Republican candidates will make up the last five-member Onslow County Board of Commissioners.
Incumbent Jack Bright was the highest vote-getter, receiving 31,705 votes, or 17.85 percent. He said he was excited to get back to work.
“We’ve got a lot of big issues coming up. We’ve got to select a new county manager. We’re going to have to make a selection on the county attorney,” Bright said, adding that a new chairman will be selected following the commissioners’ swearing in at the regular meeting on Dec. 5.
Newcomer Royce Bennett came in just behind Bright with 31,263 votes, or 17.60 percent. He said he appreciated the confidence voters had in him and looks forward to representing the county.
“We need to have some meetings and make sure we know what’s going to happen because we’re going to have to hit the ground running,” he said. “We’re going to have to make some decisions right to start with.”
Robin Knapp followed with 30,902 votes, or 17.40 percent. He said although his campaign was grassroots and had limited limited, their efforts paid off.
“From the beginning, my platform has been we need to focus on the needs of this county and not the wants,” Knapp said, adding that he’d like to see the commissioners address the county’s budget, along with mental health and detox issues in the county. “I think we have a good team of county commissioners. The citizens have spoken and want change; now it’s up to the commissioners to live up to the change.”
Mark Price, who received 30,541 votes or 17.19 percent of the votes, said he was excited and grateful to have been elected, considering his campaign was “basically spread by word of mouth.” Upon being sworn in on the Dec. 4 meeting, he will have to take a training course at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, along with the other newly elected officials.
“From there, I think one of the concerns is hiring the county manager or an interim county manager so that will probably be one of the top early issues we’ll have to deal with,” Price said.
The only other incumbent on the ballot, Paul Buchanan, received 29,493 votes, or 16.60 percent.
“The people have spoken and I’m ready to go back to work,” he said.
Buchanan said he looks forward to finishing the projects the board already had in process, including the new courthouse and the construction of Dixon Middle School and Richlands Elementary.
The lone Democrat on the ballot, Ernie Wright, received 23,725 votes or 13.36 percent of the votes for Onslow County Board of Commissioners. He congratulated the winners and said he was glad the race was an issue-based one.
“I wish them well and ask that they do something about the mental health and substance abuse issue,” he said. “Having roughly 7,000 Democrats (in Onslow County), I just couldn’t climb that mountain.”
Wright said he planned to stay active in the community in the civic organizations he’s already a member of in an effort to try to bring about change in the county.
On Tuesday, voters also approved a referendum to increase the board from its current five members to seven.
Election results remain unofficial until the Nov. 18 canvass.