Monday, 06 December 2021 17:27

7 candidates file for Richmond County elections, 2 request peititons opening day

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William R. Toler - Richmond Observer William R. Toler - Richmond Observer Scotty Baldwin fills out a check to pay the filing fee to run for the Richmond County Board of Education on Monday.

ROCKINGHAM — Several candidates signed up to run for their respective offices in the 2022 election when filing opened at noon on Monday.

Sheriff Mark Gulledge, who was appointed to fill the remainder of the term following the death of Sheriff James Clemmons, was the first one in line at the Board of Elections office.

Before being named to the position, he served as Clemmons’ chief deputy for a decade.

Gulledge was hired by then-Sheriff Dale Furr in 1999 and worked in the detention division before becoming a road deputy, where he was assigned to Clemmons’ shift.

Joining him for his filing were Chief Deputy Jay Childers and Administrative Assistant Lynn McKinnon.

“I will continue to work hard every day to provide professional law enforcement services to the citizens of Richmond County, alongside the men and women that make up the sheriff’s office,” Gulledge said in a statement released later in the afternoon. “My commitment has always been, and will always be, to serve the citizens of Richmond County with integrity, loyalty and dedication.”

Nigel Bristow, who is actively campaigning for sheriff, intended to file but lacked certain paperwork because elections officials had a wrong email address for him.

Elections Director Connie Kelly said she believes he will be able to get the paperwork complete in time.

According to his campaign page on Facebook, created Aug. 30, Bristow is a chief probation and parole officer with the N.C. Department of Public Safety and a member of DPS’ Statewide Emergency Response Team.

He retired in 2010 as a detective with the New York Police Department after 20 years of service and also worked as a substitute teacher in the Big Apple, according to the page.

Bobbie Sue Ormsby, a longtime member of the Richmond County Board of Education, filed for reelection and newcomer Scotty Baldwin threw his proverbial hat in the ring for school board.

This is the first time Baldwin, 35, has filed for an election.

“I’ve always had the idea I wanted to run for public office,” Baldwin said, adding that he’s been close the political realm, helping other candidates with their campaigns and events.

Baldwin said there was a time he considered running for the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, but decided during the COVID-19 pandemic that the school board would be a better fit.

“The school board stuck out to me because I’ve got small kids, my wife works in the school system … to me there’s no more noble and glorious purpose than going out and doing something that’s going to benefit your children and our future,” Baldwin continued. 

One major impetus behind Baldwin’s decision was the response — or lack thereof — he said he received after sending an email to all seven school board members in January, imploring them to put kids back in the classroom following months of remote learning.

Baldwin said he received three responses: two were generic; and the other was in the form of a phone call with a 20-minute discussion.

If elected, Baldwin would be the youngest member of the board, and said he believes “new ideas need to be brought forward.”

“I’m not downing anyone that’s on the school board,” he added. “They’ve faced an uphill battle in this past year and they’ve done a tremendous job in handling it. You’re not going to make everybody happy.”

Baldwin said “it’s likely” that he may have done differently.

“But at the same time, you’re trying to please the masses and do what’s good and safe for everybody,” Baldwin said. “There were a lot of unknowns in that time … I think they adapted and did the best they could with it, but I would like to be there just to present new ideas.”

Baldwin is a 2005 graduate of Richmond Senior High, has lived in the county his entire life and doesn’t plan to leave.

Don Bryant, who is finishing up his third term on the Richmond County Board of Commissioners, also filed for reelection.

Also running for a seat on that board are Commissioner Justin Dawkins and Michael Legrand.

Dawkins was appointed last year to fill out the rest of Ben Moss’ term after Moss was elected to the N.C. House of Representatives and was soon elected vice chairman.

One of the main goals Dawkins had when joining the board was to help clear up the “misunderstandings” between the county and the municipal governments, following the previous board’s decision to change the method of sales tax distribution.

“I think we made really good progress there and I want to see it continue,” Dawkins said. “We’ve got a good working relationship, for the most part, now and we’re starting to talk about initiatives and I want to make sure that keeps going.

Dawkins said his main goal is to have a unified strategy for the entire county “that makes the whole county better, just not one individual spot.”

Legrand ran in 2020 and lost to Commissioner Andy Grooms by fewer than 85 votes, even after a recount.

In addition to Dawkins and Bryant’s seats, those held by Tavares Bostic and Dr. Rick Watkins are also up for reelection.

Bostic and Watkins were both first elected to the board in 2018.

According to records with the elections office, Watkins switched his affiliation to the Republican Party on Sept. 5 — just prior to the 90-day cut-off date.

Kelly said late Monday afternoon that former Hamlet City Councilman Johnathan Buie filed a petition request form to run in November for the Board of Commissioners.

Buie, who is unaffiliated, resigned from the Hamlet board in 2019 because of a job transfer.

Ashley Brower also filed a petition request to run for clerk of Superior Court against Vickie Daniel, who also filed for reelection Monday.

Daniel was appointed to the position in 2013 following the resignation of Kathy Gainey and won her first election in 2014.

Brower and Buie will have to collect verified signatures from at least 4% of the number of registered voters as of Jan. 1, 2022, according to Kelly. Using current registration numbers, they would need around 1,100 signatures.

Those petitions must be turned in by noon on March 8, the same day the primary elections are scheduled.

Rep. Ben Moss, R-Richmond, also showed up to file — but it was a wasted trip.

Filing for state and federal office seekers has been temporarily suspended by a judicial order in reference to legal challenges against recent redistricting maps.

“The North Carolina Court of Appeals just issued an order temporarily suspending filing for congressional and legislative offices,” Paul Cox, associate general council for the N.C. Board of Elections said in an email to elections directors less than 30 minutes before filing opened. “By order of the court, the county boards may not file candidates for State House and State Senate until further notice. Likewise, the State Board may not file candidates for U.S. House until further notice.

“This is a temporary stay to permit the parties to submit their arguments to the Court of Appeals. The court then will make a decision whether to continue the suspension or lift it. We will let you know as soon as we have further word from the courts.”