It has been eight years since Democrats held a majority on the nine-member Guilford County Board of Commissioners, but the board will be blue once again in December when the winners of the Tuesday, Nov. 3 election are sworn in.
The Guilford County Board of Elections still has to count provisional votes and incoming mail-in votes postmarked by Election Day, but that won’t alter the coming Democratic control of the board.
Two Democratic commissioner candidates in contested races beat their Republican rivals handily on election night to give the party solid control of the board.
The outcome of one race could change. On Tuesday, in District 4, Mary Beth Murphy, who calls herself a “dedicated teacher, coach, wife, mom and advocate for change in Guilford County,” came out ahead of incumbent conservative Alan Branson by 18 votes. Outstanding votes or a recount could change that, but the board, which currently holds a slim 5-to-4 Republican majority, would still be controlled by the Democrats.
In District 5, Carly Cooke, a small business owner, beat Troy Lawson, the former chairman of the Guilford County Republican Party and, in District 6, which covers much of southwest Guilford County, Democrat James Upchurch beat out Republican Jim Davis. Cooke won her race with 56 percent of the vote and Upchurch won his with 53 percent. Democratic Commissioner Skip Alston, who was first elected to the Board of Commissioners in 1992, was on the ballot but did not face a challenger in the general election.
Democratic rule of the county has historically looked completely different than Republican rule. In this century, the Democrats have been much more willing than Republicans to fund a wide variety of projects, programs and non-profits that the Republicans haven’t – and the Dems have been willing to raise property taxes to do that.