On Friday, Dec. 1, the Guilford County Board of Elections heard a challenge to the results of the November election brought by Summerfield Town Councilmember Reece Walker, who came only a handful of votes away from winning a third and final open seat on the council that was up for grabs.
After hearing four hours of evidence and arguments that morning and early afternoon, the members of the county’s elections board voted 5-0 against Walker.
At the hearing, Walker argued that former Summerfield Mayor Gail Dunham was electioneering too close to the voting booths in violation of state election laws and that her actions may have swayed the vote toward candidate Heath Clay, who will now take that third and final seat on the Town Council.
If the elections board had agreed with Walker, it would likely have led to a new election between Walker and Clay in March of 2024 for the third open seat.
Dunham, on the advice of her attorney, was not at the hearing. However, the election board members, who heard from poll workers, Walker and other sworn witnesses, didn’t feel it was necessary to hear from Dunham in order to reach their decision.
On Tuesday, Nov. 21, the Board of Elections held a preliminary hearing to determine whether or not there was “probable cause” to move forward on the election challenge brought by Walker. The board refused to hear any evidence at that time but did set up the Dec. 1 hearing to delve into the matter.
In the November election, the two Summerfield Town Council seats that were settled without controversy went to Lynne Williams DeVaney, who got 1,516 votes, and Jonathan Hamilton, who got 1,316 votes. Now Clay, who had 1,265 votes, will join them on that board.