Elizabeth City, N.C. — With a solid win Tuesday in the Elizabeth City's municipal election, Councilman-elect Montravias King has become the state's youngest elected official.
King, 22, is a senior at Elizabeth City State University, where he's lived and voted since 2009. He was one of seven candidates to file for Ward 4, the City Council seat representing the school.
It wasn't exactly a smooth road to Town Hall.
In August, Pasquotank County Republican Party Chairman Pete Gilbert filed a challenge to King's candidacy, arguing that his residency in a dormitory did not qualify him for candidacy as a permanent resident of the 4th Ward.
Despite decades of legal precedents to the contrary, the Republican majority on the Pasquotank County Board of Elections agreed with Gilbert and voted to kick King off the ballot.
King appealed to the State Board of Elections, which voted unanimously to throw out the local board's decision and put King's name back on the ballot.
Tuesday night, he won his ward easily, with support from 68 percent of the voters, more than enough to avoid a runoff. He'll be sworn into office in December.
Reached by phone, King said he thinks the national attention to his story "gave us a good boost," especially in fundraising.
"We raised about $4,000," he said. "When (MSNBC host) Rachel Maddow did her show from Elizabeth City, we brought in $500 that night alone."
But in the end, he says, it was a "good ground game" and hard work, not national coverage, that won the local race.
"We connected with the voters, and that’s something that’s been missing here in the 4th Ward for a long time," he said.
King said he also hopes his win will encourage other students to run for office, despite the legal battles he had to fight along the way.
"I would tell them to persevere," he said. "I would tell them to not allow anyone or anything to stop them from fulfilling their dreams. They have to believe in themselves, and in the people that they’re going to represent."