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Kaplan not ready to endorse Besse after defeat in Forsyth County primary

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Defeated Commissioner Ted Kaplan says he’s not ready to endorse former Winston-Salem Council Member Dan Besse, following Besse’s victory Tuesday in the Democratic primary for the at-large seat on the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners.

Complete but unofficial returns showed Besse winning 61% of the vote, and beating Kaplan by some 4,500 votes out of almost 21,000 votes cast.

Kaplan said he wants to wait until he knows more about what Besse intends to do on the board of commissioners, before deciding whether to endorse.

“Congratulations to Dan Besse on a good campaign,” Kaplan said, when asked for his reaction to the primary. Kaplan attributed Besse’s win to hard work on Besse’s part and the leanings of the electorate.

“It was progressives against moderates,” Kaplan said, identifying himself as the moderate in the two-candidate contest. “I didn’t hear anybody complain about the things we have done over the years.”

Kaplan thinks that the leaked Supreme Court abortion opinion may have motivated more progressive voters to go to the polls, and that Besse may have been the beneficiary. Kaplan is pro-abortion rights himself, but has seen Besse as running to his left generally.

Besse discounts the idea that abortion played a role in the turnout. Even though Besse worked for abortion provider Planned Parenthood years ago, Besse said he did not make the connection one of his campaign points. Besse did speak briefly to a rally in favor of abortion rights last October, about the time he announced for the county office.

To Besse, the result was proof that people want more cooperation between the county and the cities, especially on issues affecting less-wealthy neighborhoods, and want a commissioner who spends more time meeting and talking with residents.

“I would put it in terms of people who think we have done enough ... and people who feel that in some areas we have made progress but there is more to be done,” he said.

Kaplan said most of the projects he’s been interested on as a commissioner are underway, and he sees no major unfinished projects to get started before he leaves office in December. Kaplan said he disagrees with Besse’s take that he hasn’t done enough for urban residents.

Besse’s win sets up a fall contest between him and Terri Mrazek, the Republican contender for the at-large seat.

Meanwhile, the candidates and their supporters in District A on the county board will have to await the final canvass of the votes, to see whether Malishai Woodbury keeps the apparent victory over incumbent Fleming El-Amin she achieved in the Democratic primary on Tuesday.

Competing in a district that elects two commissioners, incumbent Democrat Tonya McDaniel easily gained first place in the primary. But just 78 votes separate Woodbury and El-Amin for the second slot.

Unofficial returns showed McDaniel with 3,377 votes. She placed first in 20 of the district’s 38 precincts, and tied for first place in two others.

“Democracy works and the people have spoken,” said McDaniel. She said she agrees with Besse that a candidate needs to keep interacting with the constituents.

“I have been working so hard to make sure I continue to stay in front of the people and come up with solutions” for community problems, she said. She added that while she does not know Woodbury well, she is hopeful that they can work together if Woodbury’s win is confirmed by the canvass.

“Her experience on the school board will be valuable,” McDaniel said.

The unofficial election night returns had Woodbury in second place with 2,935 votes, and El-Amin with 2,857 votes.

El-Amin said on the night of the election that he thought his chances were slim at bridging the gap to second place, even with an unknown number of provisional and absentee ballots to count.

Elections Director Tim Tsujii said the number of provisional ballots to go through will be determined during Thursday’s meeting of the elections board. During early voting, there were 11 provisional ballots case.

Provisional ballots are cast by voters when there are doubts about whether they have the right to vote. The ballots are separated from the rest and ruled on by the elections board.

Two Republicans, Michael Owens and Reginald Reid, will contest District A in the fall.




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