The races defining two local elections became much clearer in Tuesday’s primary election.
Charles Gaylor and Raymond Smith Jr., received the most votes in the Goldsboro Mayoral race to advance to the Nov. 7 general election.
Gaylor received 1,274 votes, 44.2 percent of the vote. Smith received 1,200 votes, 41.6 percent of the vote.
Zach Lilly received 138 votes, Bevan Foster had 137 votes, Chuck Henry got 68 votes and Dave Craig collected 64 votes.
In the race for Goldsboro City Council District 5, Beverly Weeks and Phyllis Merritt-James received the most votes and will vie for the seat in November. Weeks received 250 votes, 43.9 percent of the votes. Merritt-James collected 207 votes, 36.3 percent of the vote.
Chretien Dumond received 112 votes.
Of the 20,867 registered voters, just 2,886 actually voted.
A Goldsboro native and Goldsboro High School graduate, Smith touted his efforts to serve the community throughout his political career and in the months leading up to Tuesday’s election.
Smith was elected as the first African American to serve in the At-Large seat of the Wayne County Public Schools Board of Education from 2017-2019 before being elected to the N.C. House of
Representatives in 2019. He served in the House of Representatives from 2019-2023.
“It’s very heartwarming that the citizens have made a choice,” Smith said. “We will continue our community outreach. Although I have been serving in this community most of my life, we will continue our community outreach. I will continue to introduce myself to citizens who have not met me, and reintroduce myself to others.”
The lack of voter turnout concerns Smith, and is an issue he hopes to continue to address with the citizens of Goldsboro.
“I think there will be tremendous interest in the upcoming election,” Smith said. “I want to increase voter turnout and I want voters to understand the importance of local elections. In order for municipal elections to increase in turnout, I don’t know there’s anything besides voter education that can increase voter turnout. It is going to require a tremendous effort.”
Gaylor was appointed to Goldsboro City Council District 5 in November 2021, and he is currently the Senior Staff Attorney serving Community Care of North Carolina, Inc. Gaylor is also a former Associate Vice President and Small Business Center Director at Wayne Community College, and a former Associate Engineer at 3TEX, Inc.
“The emotions going through my head were humility and gratitude,” Gaylor said. “When you’ve got this many people who have rallied around you to push across the finish line, at least stage one of the finish line, and invested time, energy and money in a campaign, it’s humbling. Especially, when these are people you’ve known your whole life. If you’re not humbled by that, then you’re in the wrong role.”
Gaylor plans to continue interacting with the citizens of Goldsboro in the weeks leading up to the general election.
“My (focus) will be getting back in the neighborhoods,” Gaylor said. “We had to prove that I was a viable candidate to certain neighborhoods and certain parts of town, and that is a transcendent on social economics and we were able to do that. Now, we’re playing with a very slight edge. What I will be doing is going into those same living rooms, and those same neighborhoods, and not just trying to connect with their neighbors, but their neighbors’ neighbors.”
Merritt-James expressed her gratitude for the opportunity as well as the support she received from voters and her team.
“I would first like to thank God,” Merritt-James said. “I want to thank my team for their hard work and for believing in the message we developed. I pray for the next leg of this journey, it’s so important to be a part of this process. It’s so important for everybody to have their voice heard.”
Merritt-James anticipates continuing to make a dedicated effort to connect with citizens of District 5 before the Nov. 7 general election.
“We will continue to do the leg work and get our message out,” Merritt-James said. “We will continue to listen to the heart of God for how He wants us to go forward.. We have a wonderful district. It’s so important for us to consider everybody and make sure everyone’s voice is heard.”
Weeks, is the CEO of Cry Freedom Missions and Wayne Pregnancy Center, a local nonprofit assisting battered, abused, and trafficked women. She too was humbled by the outcome of Tuesday’s election. ‘
“I was extremely, extremely humbled,” Weeks said. “I am grateful for every single individual who turned out to vote and let their voice be heard in our city. I think the thing that excited me is I have been raised in Goldsboro all my life. I actually grew up in District 5, on Herman Street. I’ve always been proud of our city and been passionate about serving. Tuesday night brought about that affirmation that God was indeed calling me to serve in an even greater capacity for our city.”
A self-described “boots on the ground,” person, Weeks plans to use the time prior to the general election to continue being visible in the community.
“I’m already in the community,” Weeks said. “I truly want to be a part of the solution, whatever that looks like. It’s no secret that one of my emphases has been our first responders. I believe the proper police force in place and firefighters, that we don’t have a safe city, and it’s critical that we have a safe city. First responders will be a first priority for me, and that is why during this campaign I have been sharing that any income or salary I would receive if I am elected, all of that salary will be donated to programs and training that can help benefit our first responders, because I recognize the value they bring to the city of Goldsboro.