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Guilford County election recount confirms wins for commissioner and school board candidates
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Guilford County election recount confirms wins for commissioner and school board candidates

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GREENSBORO — Recounts finished Tuesday in three local races on the Nov. 3 ballot ended with no changes for who won or lost.

In the race that helped flip control of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners to Democrats, challenger Mary Beth Murphy maintained her win over incumbent Alan Branson after the Guilford County Board of Elections finished its recounts Tuesday on the local races and one statewide race.

Murphy's margin increased by two votes from the 70-vote lead she had when the board completed its first full tally at its canvass on Nov. 13. On election night, Murphy led by 18 votes.

Branson requested the recount, which was completed Tuesday, and later filed a separate challenge to the election. He alleged in his Nov. 20 filing with the county that 464 absentee ballots had irregularities and, "lacked sufficient information to identify witnesses."

Guilford County elections officials forwarded the challenge to the state for consideration, however, the N.C. State Board of Elections has said it will not hear the challenge.

Noah Grant, a spokesman for the board, said Monday Branson’s challenge was submitted after the deadline and, "our legal team advised the Board of Elections that they could certify the race."

Reached Tuesday, Murphy said she had been expecting to hear that she still had more votes than Branson, so she was not surprised by the results.

Murphy said Charlie Collicutt, the county elections director, said previously that the non-prevailing candidate, in this case Branson, could request a hand recount for a sampling of precincts after the machine recount. But she said Collicutt told her a second recount would be uncommon, and she also said she's unsure what the deadline for that would be. Murphy is otherwise set to be sworn in on Monday.

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Branson did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday night.

Murphy said her top priority on the board of commissioners would be building a collaborative approach to tackling COVID-19 with the local municipal governments and private sector businesses, such as Cone Health. From her outsider's perspective, she said, conversation with those partners has seemed limited.

The goal, she said, should be, "keeping people safe and alive and well."

"I think that happens when we all work together with the understanding that this virus is serious and that we have an obligation to do what we can to keep people safe," she said.

Murphy, who is a social studies teacher at Western Guilford Middle School, said her second highest priority is working on funding for schools. That includes issuing the school bonds that voters approved on the Nov. 3 ballot and preparing to ask voters to OK more bonds to address school construction needs in the years ahead.

In the District 3 Board of Education race, Republican incumbent Pat Tillman extended his lead over Democrat Blake Odum by one vote, to 75. Odum had requested the recount.

In the District 5 school board race, unaffiliated candidate Deborah Napper still came out ahead over Republican Michelle Bardsley. Napper's lead dropped by one vote, to 146, after the recount requested by Bardsley. She replaces board member Darlene Garrett, who did not seek reelection.

Along with the three local races, Guilford County also conducted a recount of its share of votes in the statewide race for chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The local recount netted five more votes for challenger Paul Newby and two more votes for Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.

The Guilford County Board of Elections is set to hold a hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday for a protest in that race filed by Beasley. With the completion of Guilford County's recounts, Forsyth County is now the only county left still retallying, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections website. 

Staff Writer Richard M. Barron contributed to this report.

Contact Jessie Pounds at 336-373-7002 and follow @JessiePounds on Twitter.​

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