Wilma Laney and Timothy Helms won two contested seats on the Aberdeen Board of Commissioners in Tuesday’s municipal election.
In addition, Mayor Robbie Farrell ran uncontested for another four-year term as town mayor.
Laney, the only incumbent in the race, easily secured a second term with 334 votes, according to complete but unofficial returns from the Moore County Board of Elections. She received 37 percent of all votes cast among the four candidates on the ballot.
“I am so grateful for everyone who supported me, especially with this pandemic going on,” she said. “I just love every one of them and I’m going to prove that by doing the best that I can.”
Laney made local history in 2017 by becoming the first Black woman elected to the board and the town’s first African American commissioner since 1893.
A retired database systems specialist, Laney is the former chairwoman of the Moore County Democratic Party and a past president of the Moore County Democratic Women. She is active in several local groups, including the Aberdeen Friends of the Library, the Aberdeen Friends of the Postmaster’s House, the Moore County NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Moore County.
Laney previously told the Pilot that she plans to continue to focus on issues related to affordable housing and transportation during her second term.
“I’m just going to keep on trying to do the best that I can for Aberdeen,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to another term and I’m going to give it my all. My first term was a learning experience and I feel like I have even more to offer after those first four years.”
Timothy Helms clenched the board’s second contested seat with 199 votes. Helms, who previously served as a commissioner from 1995 to 1999, said he began thinking about re-joining the board after seeing his name earlier this year on the brick walkway dedicated to the town’s past and present commissioners at Aberdeen Lake Park.
“I’m really looking forward to being back on the board,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with everybody on the board and the mayor, too.”
In addition to his one term as a commissioner, Helms was a member of the Aberdeen Board of Adjustment and president of the Aberdeen Primary School PTA. He worked in retail for 45 years before landing his current job as a shift manager for Apex Technology.
Helms recently told The Pilot that he was concerned about calls from activists to divest funds from police departments in some U.S. cities. He worries that the “defund the police” movement, as it is sometimes called, will eventually make its way to Aberdeen.
“I just want to make sure that we don’t defund the police,” he said. “I’ve always been a supporter of the police, and so much of that is going on around the country these days.”
The two other candidates in the race were political newcomers. Daniel Behnke, a professional planner and transportation manager who works for a consultancy in the private sector, came in third place with 186 votes. Tim Marcham, a retired pharmacist, received 176 votes.