After three rounds of voting, the Durham County Democratic Party endorsed Durham attorney Hampton Dellinger last night to fill the county commissioner seat vacated by Becky Heron.
“I want to represent every resident in Durham County. I want to be the hardest working elected official this county has ever had and I want to be a great teammate,” said Dellinger, a former lieutenant governor candidate who served as legal counsel for Gov. Mike Easley and a state deputy attorney general. “And I will be with your help.”
The recommendation will be forwarded to the Durham County Board of Commissioners, who will ultimately make the decision on who will replace Heron, who stepped down Aug. 1 for health reasons. Dellinger sought votes from party members along with Will Wilson, Wendy Jacobs and Anita Daniels after they were nominated by their peers at the meeting. Earlier Tuesday, Heron had endorsed Jacobs, a local environmentalist, to serve out her term.
Commissioners have received applications from those and five other candidates: Pamela Karriker, Tonya Kemble, Rickey Padgett, Jane Redoble and Jane Volland.
Only 74 of the about 90 Democrats who gathered at White Rock Baptist church Tuesday night were able to vote in the weighted election. Chairs and vice chairs of Democratic precincts split the weight of their total precinct vote, which was based on the population in its borders. For example, Durham’s largest precinct -- No. 30-2 that represents residents in the neighborhoods that surround its polling place Southern High School – had a total weighted vote equaling 39. Elected officials, state, district and county party officers, along with members of the party’s executive committee could cast one vote.
To receive the nomination a candidate had to receive a 50 percent majority, or 206.5 votes.
Through out the voting, Dellinger maintained the lead followed by Jacobs, a former county planning commissioner and community activist who spearheaded the effort to prevent development on property now set to house a park project reffered to as The Hollow Rock Access Area or New Hope Preserve. The final vote tally was 248.5 to 139.5.
Candidates were given about five minutes to sell their candidacy to the crowd.
While most candidates used the time to touth their experience and priorities, Wilson pointed out that nearly 81,000 voters elected Heron, and Heron has indicated she supports Jacobs to take the seat, Wilson said.
“To respect the voters, is to respect to this process,” he said, and urged the crowd to vote for Jacobs.