In what could only be deemed nothing less than a political shocker, write-in candidate Maxine Holley claimed the top spot on the Benson Board of Commissioners Tuesday night by hauling in 174 votes to top what turned a three-candidate race into a four-candidate contest.
According to Leigh Ann Price, Director of the Johnston County Board of Elections, Ms. Holley’s write-in victory was not only the first in any election in her 23 years in office, it was also the first time a write-in candidate claimed a win in any race in Johnston County during the span.
The political newcomer said she was looking to become one of the new faces of the board, but did admit she will accept the seat and attempt to make Benson a better place to live.
“I am truly humbled that my neighbors provided me an opportunity to serve them as a member of the Benson Board of Commissioners,” Holley told The Daily Record. “I never sought this position, but it will be an honor to devote myself as a commissioner to making Benson even better.”
Holley said she was open to the idea after being contacted by people in the community who indicated they wanted her to represent them, despite not being a declared candidate.
“As I received calls and visits over the past few days from community leaders asking me if I would allow my name to be put forward, I greeted each person with hesitation and humility — who among us ever truly feels worthy,” she said. “We’ve all struggled in life, and it is from those struggles that we become our best selves — that we are more filled with love and compassion for our community, this new challenge to make a difference in the lives of all who are blessed to call Benson home.”
With the final tally, Ms. Holley, who is the sister-in-law of outgoing Mayor Pro Tem Fred Nelson, will take her seat at the table along with second- and third-place finishers Jim Johnson (157) and William Neighbors (155) leaving declared candidate Ray Adams (103) off the panel.
While Ms. Holley was chosen by voters to fill her first political post, it is not the first time she has been in the public spotlight.
In the 1990’s she was employed as the Benson Housing Authority director — a position she was terminated from after allegations of financial mismanagement surfaced following an audit by federal officials. Auditors alleged in 2000 the housing authority had mishandled $1.6 million in tax funds. The allegations ranged from nepotism to contracts not being put out on bids, to rent not being collected adequately.
In December of 1996, Ms. Holley pleaded no contest to misdemeanor fraudulent representation after three felony counts of obtaining property by false pretense and three felony counts of fraudulently obtaining housing assistance in May of 1994 were dismissed by the District Attorney’s office. That same year she was sentenced to probation after being charged with misdemeanor fraudulently misrepresenting food stamp amounts. Story courtesy The Daily Record