ROCKINGHAM — Forty-eight voters have cast their ballots in this year’s municipal elections in the first three days of early voting, according to Elections Director Connie Kelly.
Early voting began Thursday at the Richmond County Cooperative Extension office on Caroline Street and ends at 1 p.m. Nov. 4.
Of the four races across the county, two are contested, one is uncontested and another has an open seat.
The Hamlet City Council race pits incumbents Jesse McQueen and Eddie Martin against challengers Jerry Lamont and Stephanie Dixon. Ernie Johnson also has recently announced his bid as a write-in candidate.
To be named in election results, write-in candidates must have at least five votes, according to Kelly.
There are three Ellerbe incumbent commissioners up for re-election — Corey Brewington, Archie Robinson and Jean Fletcher. Brewington was elected four years ago and resigned earlier this year when he moved out of town — but was recently appointed back to his vacant seat when he moved back, Kelly said.
There are also two challengers in that race: Fred Cloninger and Lee Freeman.
Freeman ran for a seat in 2015, along with his wife, Elsie Freeman. She was elected that year — along with Jeremy McKenzie — and currently sits on the council.
With Hoffman’s election schedule, all council seats and that of mayor are up for grabs every two years.
Council members Daniel Kelly, Rory Kevin Jones, Cynthia Northcutt and Ricardo Anderson all made the filing deadline. While Althea Sloan Cobb did not, newcomer John D. Taylor filled out his paperwork with a day to spare.
The past two elections, there has been at least one Hoffman to candidate not make the filing deadline. In 2015, it was Cobb. Two years before that, the elections director said the final member was decided by write-in.
Mayors Bill Bayless (Hamlet), Steve Morris (Rockingham), Lee Berry (Ellerbe) and Tommy Hart (Hoffman) are all running unopposed, as are Rockingham council members Gene Willard, Anne Edwards and Denise Sullivan.
Earlier this month, Dobbins Heights council members Tyre Holloway and Angeline David were re-elected with no competition.
Election Day is Nov. 7.