HAMLET — Incumbents Eddie Martin and Jesse McQueen handily won re-election Tuesday to a badly divided Hamlet City Council.
Martin, 73, was the top winner with 365 votes; McQueen, 46, snared 322. Challengers Stephanie Corey Dixon, 27, and Jerry Lamont, 64, tallied 214 and 199 votes, respectively, and write-in candidate Ernie Johnson logged nine “raw” votes. (Not all of the 31 write-in votes had been counted as of late Tuesday.)
Mayor Bill Bayless, who ran unopposed, logged 527 votes.
“I am elated that so many folks came out to vote for myself and Eddie Martin,” said McQueen, whose campaign signs on Hamlet lawns almost always were paired with Martin’s. “I think the citizens of Hamlet are happy with the direction the city’s moving forward in.”
Martin was a bit less ebullient.
“It makes you feel good, I guess, that enough people thought enough of you to go vote,” he said.
A look at the parking lot outside Hamlet’s main polling place provided an illustration of the divisiveness that has characterized the council race.
Under one canopy on the verge of the First Presbyterian Church parking lot sat Martin, alongside council members McQueen and Johnathan Buie, each wearing McQueen T-shirts.
Under another — just the other side of Mayor Bayless’s canopy — sat council members David Lindsey and Wendy Massagee, alongside candidate Dixon. Both council members wore “Vote for the Girl” tees in Dixon’s signature green and pink.
McQueen at first downplayed the split.
“I’m going to do the work of the city of Hamlet the way I’ve always done it,” he said. But then, he took issue with Lindsey’s and Massagee’s “actively campaigning” against fellow council members.
“It was stunning that David Lindsey and Wendy Massagee did a lot of campaigning for a candidate who did very little herself,” he said. Both Lindsey and Massagee campaigned silently for Dixon at the recent Seaboard Festival — they wore “Vote for the Girl” tees under their volunteer vests. Dixon also campaigned there and has attended a handful of recent council meetings.
Martin said he would ignore the apparent division.
“I didn’t draw the divide,” he said, but added that he found it appalling that “sitting board members” would campaign against colleagues.
“I’ve just never heard of board members competing against each other,” he said. “I find it difficult to do that, (but) they set the standard — not me.”
Dixon was at the Lindseys’s house Tuesday evening and could not be reached. David Lindsey’s wife, Kim, said guests were spread “over 13 acres,” and that Dixon would call when she could. She had not done so by 10 p.m.
Candidate Jerry Lamont could not be reached for comment.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673.