After a drawn out election season with a runoff in the Democratic primary for Wake County sheriff and for two seats on the Cary town council, the election results are finally in. 

Of the two Democratic candidates running for Wake County sheriff, newcomer Willie Rowe beat incumbent Gerald M. Baker by a landslide. Rowe received 23,763 ballots, or 75 percent of the vote total, while Baker gathered only 7,773 votes according to unofficial results

None of the seven Democrats vying to lead the sheriff’s office had received 30 percent of the vote in the initial primary in May, prompting Baker—who came in with 4,673 fewer votes than Rowe—to call for the second primary.

The INDY endorsed Rowe in this election, in part due to Baker’s mishandling of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 in downtown Raleigh and sheriff’s deputies use of tear gas and rubber bullets leveled at demonstrators, among other scandals in the sheriff’s office. 

Rowe, on the other hand, is a retired major from the county sheriff’s office with a long record of community service, and says that, within law enforcement, crime can be better prevented by engaging with the community rather than making arrests.

In November, Rowe will face Republican Donnie Harrison, a former longtime Wake County sheriff. 

In Cary’s town council election, newcomer Carissa Johnson beat Ken George with 53 percent to George’s 47 percent of the vote for the at-large election. The town council’s District C saw incumbent Jack Smith winning 55 percent of votes to Renee Miller’s 45 percent.

Cary Town Council member Jack Smith

The INDY did not make endorsements in the Cary town council races in the May primary, but we endorsed both Johnson and Smith in the runoff races earlier this month. 

Carissa Johnson

Voter turnout was projected to be low for this election, but unofficial results indicate that it exceeded expectations. In the Wake sheriff’s race, 31,536 Democratic and unaffiliated voters cast ballots (there are 289,620 total registered Democrats and 6,515 unaffiliated voters in Wake county as of July 2022, according to county data). Rowe received only slightly fewer total votes in the second primary than he did in the primary in May (25,731). Baker received far fewer this time around (he received 21,058 votes in May).

And while 10 percent of the electorate turning out isn’t ideal, Democrats should remain diligent about voting as we approach November. As the kind people volunteering at my precinct told me today, how lucky are we to get to vote three times in one year? 

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