Sims becomes city’s first black mayor
HIGH POINT – Bernita Sims won a hard-fought race among three leading contenders for the city’s top elected office, but also shattered a barrier by becoming the city’s first black mayor in Tuesday’s general election.
With all High Point precincts in Guilford County reporting, the veteran councilwoman from Ward 1 had a 6 percentage point margin over her closest competitor, businessman Coy Williard. When Sims takes the oath of office next month, she’ll become the first black mayor in the 153 years since High Point was chartered as a municipality.
At a multiracial gathering of her supporters at Jackie’s Place on Washington Street Tuesday night, Sims credited her victory
to her name recognition, involvement in the community in a variety of roles and connections with people in a cross-section of settings.
Sims didn’t make her chance to become the city’s first black mayor a focal point of her campaign. But in an interview with The High Point Enterprise, she recognized the historic significance.
“To have been able to make this happen is a turning point,” Sims said, recognizing that many black High Pointers who voted for her lived through a period of segregation where they couldn’t cast a ballot in an election.
Sims won the mayor’s post despite being outspent by a wide margin by Williard, who raised an unprecedented amount of money for a High Point mayor’s race.
Williard accrued more than $50,000 through mid-October. By contrast, Ward 5 Councilman Chris Whitley, who finished third in the mayor’s race, raised nearly $10,000 while Sims raised nearly $8,000, according to Guilford County Board of Elections campaign finance reports.
Williard said Tuesday night that he has no regrets about the campaign he put together.
“I’m pleased with my support and the help I had. The best thing that came out of it is that I met a lot of great people I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” he said.
Williard, a longtime businessman and civic leader making his first bid for public office, campaigned as a reformer of city government who would bring an outside perspective to City Hall. Sims ran on her experience in municipal government and her contention that the city has improved its standing during her long service on City Council.
Sims also benefited from being the only candidate in the five-person mayor’s race who was endorsed by the local Democratic Party. Sims is a long-time Democratic activist. Williard and Whitley are both Republicans, and many analysts expected them to split the GOP vote, though the race was nonpartisan on the ballot. firstname.lastname@example.org | 888-3528