Change was the theme of Tuesday’s elections in Pembroke, as both contested races were won by the challengers.
Judy Cook, who was Pembroke mayor for 12 years but decided not to run for a fourth term in 2011, defeated incumbent Mary Warnell 315-
267 (54.1 percent to 45.9 percent).
Also, Karen Lynn, who has never held an office before, topped incumbent Kimberly McGhee 93-55 for the District 2 seat on City Council. They will take their seats in January.
Cook said she had a general sense of the voters wanting someone different.
“Basically, they said they wanted a change,” she said. “Nothing was elaborated; they wanted a change.”
Cook, whose career with the city of Pembroke began in 1972, described this campaign as different for her than her previous election experiences. Including the rise of social media as an important part of campaigning, she said there was more involvement with citizens this time around.
Cook thanked her supporters, especially considering the persistent rain that fell most of the day in Pembroke.
“It was horrible today, but I appreciated everybody who voted,” she said.
Warnell, who ran unopposed in 2011 to succeed Cook as mayor, said she was disappointed with the outcome and couldn’t think of any one issue that swayed the election. She thanked the citizens who supported her, the City Council and the employees, and also cited the “enormous improvements we have made as a team” in the city.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as a mayor in my hometown,” she said.
Lynn reached a similar viewpoint to that of Cook — that voters wanted change.
“I don’t think it was any one issue. I think some people wanted a new face, a new perspective, and hopefully, I can do what they want me to do,” she said.
Lynn said campaigning was overwhelming at first, but became more comfortable as she went out and did door-to-door meetings with voters. She said it was fun to meet the people in her district and get an idea of who lived there — and finding that they feel the same way about Pembroke she does.
“They want it to be success, and maybe we can work together to make it that way,” she said.
McGhee did not respond by press time to messages from the News seeking comment.
Election Supervisor Cindy Reynolds described Tuesday’s turnout as “moderate.”
Even in the election’s waning hours, soggy campaign supporters were at the intersection of Main and Bacon streets, waving at passersby and holding signs for their candidates. A short distance from the voting booths, tents were set up for other supporters, creating a scene more akin to a football-game tailgate.
One voter who braved the wet conditions was Randi Lyn Creech, 31.
“We wanted to show support for our mayor. We wanted to support Miss Warnell,” she said. “She’s very active in our church; we go to First Baptist. She’s done a lot of good for the community, and we wanted to continue to see it grow.”