The field for the 2015 municipal election in Mount Airy got a little larger on Tuesday when Bruce Springthorpe filed to run for a North Ward seat on the city board of commissioners.
Springthorpe was an unsuccessful candidate for the at-large council seat in 2011 and says recent actions of the commissioners have prompted his latest entry into Mount Airy’s political arena.
“I don’t know Dean well,” the candidate said of Dean Brown, the present occupant of the North Ward seat Springthorpe is seeking. What he does know about Brown, who is the senior member of the board, indicates that “he’s a nice man,” Springthorpe said.
“But it’s time to put some new blood in there,” the challenger added, based on board actions of the last couple of years.
“The two main issues with me were the redevelopment commission and the rezoning issue on South Franklin Road,” Springthorpe said of controversial items that came before the council in 2014. The Mount Airy Redevelopment Commission was formed amid citizen concerns about its power to seize by eminent domain property designated as blighted.
Meanwhile, the rezoning matter cited by Springthorpe involved the board voting to accommodate an apartment complex, action a judge later overturned on legal grounds after one affected property owner took the municipality to court.
“These were two cases where the public turned out en masse,” Springthorpe said of citizen opposition to both moves by the commissioners, “and they passed it anyway — that’s not the way it’s supposed to work.”
Springthorpe, 58, is a computer programmer who resides on East Country Club Road.
So far, only one other challenger besides Springthorpe has filled along with three incumbent commissioners and a fourth not up for re-election, Steve Yokeley, the city’s mayor pro tem, who is running for the unexpired term of former Mayor Deborah Cochran, who resigned unexpectedly in March.
Gene Clark is seeking to unseat At-Large Commissioner Jim Armbrister, and before Tuesday neither Brown nor South Ward Commissioner Shirley Brinkley had garnered opposition.
“The idea of this board getting re-elected unopposed was too much for me,” Springthorpe said.
He said the citizens’ wishes will be his top priority if elected.
“I will listen to what the people want, not what the city wants — and there is a difference,” Springthorpe said.
The candidate pledges to represent the public’s position as long as it is not unconstitutional or illegal.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.