NORTH TOPSAIL BEACH — A decision on the outcome of the mayoral election in North Topsail Beach remains in the hands of the state court.
A hearing date has yet to be set in the case and an injunction that puts the certification of the election on hold remains in place, according to State Board of Elections attorney Kelly Tornow.
Tornow said the hearing could be held soon.
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She said current Mayor Dan Tuman, who is contesting the results, has requested that his petition be heard in Wake County Superior Court during the week of Feb. 24, and that’s when the court is expected to schedule it.
Until the election is certified, Tuman remains in office despite a potential write-in upset by Alderman Joann McDermon, who continues to hold her board seat and is serving as mayor pro tem.
McDermon filed as a candidate for re-election to the alderman seat and simultaneously ran a successful write-in campaign for the mayor’s seat during the Nov. 5 municipal election.
McDermon received 126 write-in votes, or 58% of the total, while Tuman received 80 votes, or 37%, The Daily News reported. Tuman protested the outcome of the election claiming McDermon should be disqualified as a mayoral candidate because she filed as a candidate for the NTB Board of Alderman.
The Onslow County Board of Elections dismissed Tuman’s appeal on Nov. 14.
At the time, the Onslow BOE said there was no law on one candidate running for two positions, and with a lack of a law on the issue decided to dismiss the appeal, The Daily News reported.
Tuman then filed appeals with the N.C. State Board of Elections on Nov. 21 and 25, according to SBE documents.
On Dec. 2, the state BOE decided not to hear the protest, according to the documents.
Tuman then appealed to Wake County Superior Court and a judge will now decide the outcome of the election.
Judge A. Graham Shirley II signed a stay and preliminary injunction on Dec. 13 which stays the certification of the election.
"The current mayor holds over until the successor qualifies; an officer cannot qualify until the election is certified and the officer can take the oath of office," Tornow said, citing state General Statute 160A-62.
McDermon said that the injunction hasn’t kept the Board of Aldermen or town officials from conducting town business.
"We have a very qualified and competent staff to keep things running," McDermon said.
At the board’s Jan. 8 meeting, she said, the board approved the decisions by Town Manager Bryan Chadwick and Town Clerk Laura Oxley to rescind their resignations and continue their employment with town.
McDermon said the main impact to the board is that it has not been able to swear in newly elected officials or hold its organizational meeting.
Part of that is approving the annual meeting schedule. The board continues to meet at the regular time but until the schedule is approved, meetings are being called as special meetings.
While town business continues as it has been, McDermon said she hopes to see the outcome of the mayor’s race decided soon.
"Until the election is certified, we’re still in flux," McDermon said. "It is not fair to the voters who took the time to vote."
Tuman is currently out of the country on vacation but replied by text to The Daily News that the injunction stands until his protest is heard in court and that the order granting the injunction cites merit to his appeal.
"As you know, the court granted me the injunction because in their judgment it was likely that my protest would prevail," Tuman wrote.
Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 910-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com.