New Bern mayor's race heating up as early voting begins

Dana Outlaw, left, mayor of New Bern will square off with Lee Bettis and Ernie Williams

NEW BERN, Craven County - Early voting for the primary elections in New Bern began Thursday. The race to see who will be the city's next mayor is a big one for voters to decide.

On almost every block you'll see a sign promoting someone running for a city position. Early voting for primary races helps narrow down to two candidates. The race for mayor has three candidates that have been getting a lot of attention.

The incumbent mayor, Dana Outlaw, has served the community since being elected in 2013 and hopes to extend his time in office. He said he feels his last term alongside the aldermen has been very productive.

"We've been going around New Bern for the last four years," Outlaw said. "We've been trying to improve our financial condition and at the same time look at needed repairs infrastructure needs. Water and sewer, keeping rates down and taxes down."

The other two candidates for mayor are itching to get their chance in office.

Lee Bettis is a familiar face to many and if you notice the signs on the road, they say "re-elect Lee Bettis." Bettis was the former mayor before Outlaw, serving from 2009-13, and said he's ready to serve again.

"We have horrible horrible Draconian electric deposits that are costing the city money and driving businesses and people out of New Bern," Bettis said. "I will stand up for that and lead the charge to reverse that."

Ernie Williams is a life-long resident of New Bern and said he feels the area is in need of not change but improvements. He hopes he'll have the chance to implement those changes.

"I think just a good honest dialogue with everybody on the board and the citizens of New Bern with somebody that is not, I don't mean to knock either one but one is a New York lawyer and the other is from around here," Williams said. "I mean just a good honest dialogue."

At the end of the day, all three candidates are just ready to serve the city of New Bern.

"Both of these guys had their chance and I'm looking for mine," Williams said.

"I'm extremely excited to get back into office and be New Bern's vocal leader," Bettis said.

"I look forward to being the mayor of New Bern for the next four years and improve the progressive mode of our city," Outlaw said.