At 3 p.m. Thursday, only one of four incumbents for the Richmond County Board of Commissioners has filed for reelection at the Richmond County Board of Elections. A challenger has filed for the county board of education.
Paul Wilson Jr. of Ellerbe, a Democrat, is the only incumbent to have made his intentions to stay on the Richmond County Board of Commission official as of 3 p.m. Thursday.
A farmer and business owner, Wilson said his focus remains on giving the citizens of Richmond County more opportunities for economic prosperity.
“My biggest focus continues to be bringing jobs and industry into Richmond County,” Wilson said this week. “We’ve worked hard to do it in the past, and we’re still working hard, but we’ve got to get this done, regardless. The economy’s been rough and things have been tight, but we’ve still had some luck in Richmond County.”
He said he enjoys the working relationship shared between the commissioners, County Manager Rick Sago and the Richmond County Chamber of Commerce, and wants to continue to be a part of the partnership.
Commissioners Thad Ussery, Jimmy Maske and Pam Dillman are yet to file for 2010, though none of the three have indicated they do not intend to run.
Another challenger for the county commission registered Wednesday; Larry Rogers.
During his 15 years of Special Forces service in the U.S. Army, Rogers said he gained valuable experience in public service assisting foreign governments in rebuilding infrastructure.
After running as an unaffiliated candidate in 2008, Rogers filed in 2010 as a Democrat, as did Bryant and Capps.
Rogers joins retired Richmond Senior High School Horticulture teacher and small business owner Don Bryant of Bryant’s Turf and small business owner Jimmy Capps in seeking county office.
For Bryant, this is his third time running for the county commission. He has served multiple terms on the Hoffman Town Council.
“We need jobs,” Bryant said this week. “The rest of the world just caught up with Richmond County - we’ve been in a recession for eight years. Our belts have been tight for awhile.”
He said he feels his experience as a small business owner, and his 30 years of experience as an educator, would be good additions to the county commission and its economic development efforts.
Capps is also a small business owner, with several businesses in Richmond County including a tobacco store.
He said he was inspired by the amount of improvement that could made in the county.
“I employ 14, and I used to employ 27,” Capps said. “Over the last couple of years, I’ve had to lay people off and shut businesses down because there’s just no growth in the county.”
He said his three biggest issues are jobs, education and accountability in the expenditure of tax money.
“I want to know where the taxpayers’ money is being spent, improve education and get some good jobs in here,” he explained.
The race for the North Carolina House of Representatives seat representing Richmond County now has two competitors.
Richmond County School Board Chairman and Rockingham furniture store owner Kenneth Goodman was the first to file for the seat, which represents RIchmond and Montgomery counties.
In a Monday press release, Goodman cited three platforms for his campaign in economic development, education and lowering taxes.
“Finally, the recent scandals in both Washington and Raleigh, along with partisan rancor, have severely damaged the bond of trust between the public and its elected officials,” Goodman said. “We must, if we are have effective government, restore respect for the institution. The first step in restoring that respect is for our leaders to act in an ethical manner in both public and private matters. You have my pledge that I will follow that course.”
Republican James Haywood Parsons of Candor filed in Montgomery County to seek the seat this week.
A farmer and former furniture factory worker, Parsons is currently the President of the North Carolina Peach Grower’s Society.
He said he was inspired to run by conversations he has on the roadside with customers at his produce stands.
“People come by my roadside stand, and they’ve always got concerns, things they’re worried about,” Parsons said. “Whether it be a job or their kid’s schools or how their taxes are being spent. There’s a lot of money being spent, and I just feel like we could get by spending a little bit less and putting more into education.”
However, Parsons greatest concern for the district is job creation and industry recruitment.
“We need to get some more jobs in Montgomery and Richmond counties, and they need to be higher paying jobs,” Parsons said. “It would be nice if we could make this area more attractive to industry, and bring some big corporations in here.”
He said economic development is key to industry recruitment, and said he would like to see more development such as hotels and restaurants.
In the school board race, three of the four incumbents in this year’s election have registered to run, along with a challenger.
Board of Education Vice Chairman Tom McInnis and members Ed Ormsby and Pam Easterling were joined by UNC-Pembroke professor Irene Pittman Aiken on the ballot.
A retired Richmond County Schools Principal, Ormsby is seeking his second term on the school board.
“I think we have provided the best opportunities for the overall student population of Richmond County that we’ve had in a long time through school redistricting and other changes we’ve made,” Ormsby said. “We’d like to continue to follow the course we’ve set, especially in regards to the dramatic increase in student test scores.”
Aiken is a former student and teacher at Richmond County Schools, and holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as an undergraduate degree from the same institution and a master’s degree from Pembroke.
McInnis and Easterling were unable to be reached at press time.
The filing period for candidates to register for the May 2010 Primary and November 2010 General Elections is noon Feb. 26.
In other election news:
n Richmond County Bar Association President Reece Saunders has formed a committee to explore challenging North Carolina Prosecutorial District 20 A District Attorney Michael Parker.
As of Thursday afternoon, neither was listed as a registered candidate on the North Carolina Board of Elections Web site.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.