25 seats up for grabs in fall elections

Daily Journal file photo Richmond County could see a change in municipal leadership with 25 seats, including those of every mayor, up for grabs in this year’s election.

ROCKINGHAM — Anyone wanting to take an active part in local government will have two weeks to file for this year’s upcoming elections.

Municipal filing for Richmond County’s two cities and four towns will run from 8 a.m. Monday, July 6 through noon on Friday, July 17. The last day to withdraw as a candidate is Tuesday, July 14.

Connie Kelly, director of elections, said filing would generally begin this Friday, but has been pushed back due to the office being closed for the Fourth of July holiday.

The mayor of every municipality in the county — Steve Morris in Rockingham, Bill Bayless in Hamlet, Antonio Blue in Dobbins Heights, Lee Berry in Ellerbe, Tommy Hart in Hoffman and Kenneth Broadway in Norman — could face competition later in the year, as each of their seats are up for grabs.

The towns of Dobbins Heights — which holds its election in October — and Ellerbe each have two council seats on the ballot: those currently held by Mary Ann Gibson and Gracie Jackson in Dobbins Heights, and John Sears Jr. and a vacant seat in Ellerbe.

Three of Norman’s council seats — held by Stephen Cranford, Tonia Collins and Cynthia Ingram — are also set to be filled.

Because Hoffman has two-year terms, all five council members — Ricarrdo Anderson, Althea Sloan Cobb, Rory Kevin Jones, Daniel Kelly and Cynthia Northcutt — will all be up for re-election.

Hamlet’s city council could see three new faces, although one is guaranteed.

The seats of Johnathan M. Buie, Tony Clewis and Pat Preslar are all up for grabs.

Preslar announced late last month that he was not running for re-election after 16 years on the council. He was later named interim police chief of Mount Gilead in Montgomery County.

Eugene Willard is the only member of the Rockingham City Council who is guaranteed to remain, as Bennett Deane, John Hutchinson, Denise Sullivan and Anne Edwards all have to file to try to keep their seats.

Edwards was appointed by the council last month to fill the spot opened following the resignation of Travis Billingsley.

The filing fees for Norman, Hoffman and Dobbins Heights are $5 for both mayor and council members.

Those filing for council seats in the remaining municipalities will have to shell out $10. Mayoral fees for Ellerbe and Rockingham are the same, but the filing fee is $30 for Hamlet.

Important dates for voters to remember include:

• Absentee voting by mail begins Aug. 14 for September primary, Sept. 4 for October election, Oct. 2 for November election;

• Voter registration deadline is Aug. 21 for September primary, Sept. 11 for October election, Oct. 9 for November election;

• One-stop (or early) voting runs Sept. 3-12 for September primary, Sept. 24-Oct. 3 for October election, Oct. 22-31 for November election;

• Last day to return absentee ballot is Sept. 15 for September primary, Oct. 6 for October election, Nov. 3 for November election;

• Election days are Sept. 15, Oct. 6 and Nov. 3, with polls opening at 6:30 a.m.

Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.