As the filing period came to a close Friday, the race for Richmond County Commissioner picked up one more competitor and another Republican cast his hat into the race for sheriff.
“All these races, especially those for county commission and sheriff, are going to be high profile contests,” said Richmond County Board of Elections Director Connie Kelly. “Judging by the number of people we’ve had express interest in changing their party so they can vote for who they want to in the primary, I would say we should have a much higher participation rate than we normally do in primary elections.”
Kelly illustrated her point by comparing voter turnout in the sheriff primaries in 2002 and 2006. Neither of which exceeded 7,500. That compares to 11,000 voters who turned out for the sheriff primary in 1994. That was the last time there wasn’t an incumbent sheriff in the election.
Richmond Senior High teacher Greg Norton filed for county commission, while Doug’s Tire Shop of Laurinburg owner Doug Brown became the sixth sheriff candidate and the second Republican to file.
Brown said his motivation for running for sheriff is primarily to bring changes to county law enforcement.
“I really want to look at decreasing the crime rate and getting a handle on the drug problem in the county,” Brown said.
The Daily Journal will prepare a more in-depth introduction to Brown as a candidate next week.
Norton was unavailable for comment.
The race for county commission now features 11 candidates. That number will be pared down in the May primary, when the 10 Democrats will be whittled to four by voters from their party and independents.
The Richmond County Board of Education race is not subject to a primary, and will feature five candidates vying for four seats.
Board of Education member Cathy Wilson was the only incumbent in the county not to file for reelection. She cited personal reasons for her decision.
“I have considered it an honor and a privilege to serve Richmond County and the kids and staff of the school system,” Wilson said Friday. “I think we’re moving in the right direction, and our test scores show that. At the same time I’ve decided not to file for reelection on the Richmond County Board of Education. I am looking forward to pursuing other opportunities in the future.”
With Wilson sitting out, the race means five candidates will be vying for four seats on the public body.
Incumbents Tom McInnis, Ed Ormsby and Pam Easterling will be challenged by UNC-Pembroke Professor Irene Pittman-Aiken and retired RCS Assistant Superintendent Joe Richardson in November.
The North Carolina Senate race for the seat representing Richmond and Scotland counties will pit the incumbent Democrat, N.C. Sen. Bill Purcell, against Republican Jason Phibbs, who has never held public office.
Purcell is a retired physician, while Phibbs supervises a team of analysts at a call center for a financial institution.
In the race for the seat being vacated by N.C. Rep. Melanie Wade-Goodwin, Richmond County Board of Education Chairman Ken Goodman will face-off with Republican Candor farmer James Parsons.
Goodman is also a business owner, having operated R.W. Goodman Furniture Company in Rockingham for about 30 years.
Parsons operates a roadside produce stand on U.S. 220 in addition to his work on the family farm.
U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell will both face primary opposition in May in their bids to remain in Washington, D.C..
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 32, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.