Watford wins N.C. House District 80
By Sharon Myers
Published: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 10:19 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 at 11:26 p.m.
Davidson County Commissioner Sam Watford has claimed the seat he previously sought by appointment in the primary race for North Carolina House of Representatives District 80 on Tuesday.
The unofficial tally has Watford defeating incumbent Rep. Roger Younts, R-Davidson, in a relatively close race, 3,194 votes to 2,658. Watford claimed 54.6 percent of the votes compared to Younts’ 45.4 percent in a heated primary race for the position formerly held by long-term representative Jerry Dockham. Dockham resigned last year after being appointed to the North Carolina Utilities Commission, and Younts was appointed to fill the remainder of the term in a disputed vote.
With no Democrat or Libertarian on the November ballot, Watford will claim the seat.
Watford said it was a sweet victory after everything that has gone on since Younts was appointed to the seat in July 2013.
“It renews my faith in the voters in this party,” Watford said. “I want to thank all of my supporters for their help and their votes. I am looking forward to the many challenges this state faces. Now that I am an official legislator, I will have a small part in it. This is a different set of challenges of what I have been used to over the past 12 years.”
Watford said he has several issues he hopes to work on when he begins his tenure in Raleigh later this year.
“I want to work towards making North Carolina more competitive with our neighboring states, mainly in the area of economic development,” Watford said. “The main thing is I will represent Davidson County and House District 80 and the state of N.C. with honor and dignity.”
Younts said although he didn't win this particular race, he still plans on running for office again at some point. He also said he has a few more months of work ahead of him.
“I would like to congratulate Mr. Watford on his victory,” Younts said. “I wish him all the best. Considering I am 30 years old and I ran against a household name, I think I did a pretty good job getting 46 percent of the vote. I am looking forward to serving out the remainder of my term and can tell you this is not the last time you will see my name on the ballot. We'll just have to see what the future holds.”
Younts' appointment after Dockham's resignation created ill will between some members of the Davidson County Republican Party over the process.
Dockham was in his 12th term in the N.C. House in June 2013 when he was appointed to the position with the utilities commission and resigned his seat. In July, Younts was appointed by members of the Davidson County Republican Party Executive Committee by a 3-2 vote, with one of those votes coming from Younts himself. Watford was another candidate up for nomination to fill the vacant position and received the other two votes.
At the time, some Republican Party members opposed Younts' blocking an absent eligible voting member, Dwight Story, from voting via telephone. Younts, along with party members Michael Byrd and Gary Craver, voted not to allow Story to vote over the phone.
Watford, 61, is a life-long resident of Davidson County. He attended Western Carolina University and Guilford Technical Institute where he received a degree in civil engineering technology. He owns Watford Construction Co., a utility contracting and heavy construction company. He is serving his third term on the Davidson County Board of Commissioners and has served on the Davidson County Planning and Zoning Board.
He is a life member and past president of the Thomasville Jaycees. He served as a North Carolina Jaycees Junior Chamber International Senator and was in the Cardinal Corps for North Carolina Jaycees. He was also past president of the Chair City Shrine Club.
Watford has been married to his wife, Karen, for 35 years. They have two daughters and two grandchildren. He and his wife are members of Liberty Baptist Church where Watford teaches Sunday school.
Younts, 30, is a native of Davidson County and a graduate of Central Davidson High School. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Wake Forest University. Younts is a former trust analyst for BB&T. He also worked in the Capitol Hill office of U.S. Congresswoman Virginia Foxx, R-5th, and was the county chairman for Lt. Gov. Dan Forest and the county coordinator for U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8th, in 2012. Younts also served as the treasurer of the Davidson County Republican Party from 2009 until 2013.
Paid for by Sam Watford