Two first-time mayoral candidates in their 30s won major races in Eastern North Carolina yesterday, defeating opponents with more experience in city government.
Greenville City Council Member for District 5 P.J. Connelly, 32, defeated three other candidates by a wide margin in the city's mayoral race. And in Kinston, Mayor B.J. Murphy narrowly lost his bid for re-election to Don Hardy, 35, who has a background in law enforcement.
After receiving 54 percent of the vote, Connelly will serve as the first elected mayor of Greenville since former Mayor Allen Thomas resigned during his third term earlier this year. Connelly’s rival At-large Council Member Calvin Mercer received 40 percent of the vote. Mercer has served 10 years on the city council.
The competitive race in Greenville was filled with attack ads on both sides, aggressive fundraising and uncertainty about the outcome. Mayoral candidates Ernest Reeves and Curtis Pulley received five percent and one percent of the vote respectively.
In Kinston, Murphy lost after serving two, four-year terms as mayor. Hardy, who's never held elected office, defeated Murphy by five points, with Murphy taking 48 percent of the vote. After the votes were tallied, Murphy declined to comment on the results.
Though the Election Day totals are complete, the results are not yet official.