DOBSON — When the smoke cleared Friday after the close of the candidates’ filing period for the Mount Airy municipal election, 10 city residents had formalized their intentions to seek mayoral and commissioner seats.
N.A. Barnes was the last candidate to toss his hat into the ring, filing Friday for the North Ward city council seat now held by Dean Brown.
This means all but one of the seats that are up for grabs this year — including three commissioner slots and the mayor’s post — will be contested.
The full slate of office-seekers for the city election includes:
• North Ward commissioner — incumbent Dean Brown, N.A. Barnes and Bruce Springthorpe.
• At-large commissioner — incumbent Jim Armbrister, Gene Clark, Gail Proffitt and Jerry Taylor.
• South Ward commissioner — incumbent Shirley Brinkley (no opposition).
• Mayor — Steve Yokeley and David Rowe. (Yokeley is now the city’s other South Ward commissioner, who is not up for re-election but will be running against Rowe to fill the unexpired term of former Mayor Deborah Cochran. Yokeley has served as acting mayor since March, after the resignation of Cochran, with that term to expire in December 2017.)
Barnes’ filing on Friday will force an Oct. 6 primary for the North Ward seat, due to more than two candidates being involved, along with the at-large position now held by Armbrister.
After the October primary, the two top vote-getters in each race will square off in the Nov. 3 regular election.
Barnes, an 82-year-old resident of Plantation Place Lane, said Friday that one main issue sparked his campaign.
“The reason I filed is I want to see, or would like to see, Mount Airy have more industry coming in,” the first-time office-seeker said.
In the absence of recruiting new companies from the outside, Barnes believes more could be done to help existing industry in the city and county, including initiatives to help small businesses expand.
Barnes is a retired textile executive and present business entrepreneur.
“Another reason I decided to put my name in the hat is I think for any elected office, two terms are enough,” he said. Brown is seeking his third term as a North Ward commissioner.
“That doesn’t mean Commissioner Brown has done a bad job,” Barnes continued. “I think we need some new ideas, some fresh input, to improve the economic situation in our county.”
Commissioner Brinkley, who is seeking her second term, said Friday that she sees the fact no one filed to run against her as a sign citizens are pleased with her work. “That the people consider you as someone who is doing what they elected you to do,” she said.
“But that doesn’t mean there is not someone out there who would do a good job,” who maybe just didn’t choose to run, Brinkley added.
In serving as a commissioner, Brinkley says she has sought to sweat the details on every issue that comes before the city council, thoroughly researching those matters and embracing her role with “vigor and enthusiasm.”
“I am really overwhelmed,” Brinkley said of the confidence the public seems to have in her, and pledged to continue providing a high level of service. “I am going to keep on doing what I do and try to do it better.”
Brinkley also hopes those who are seeking office will start attending the commissioner meetings to gain an understanding of city government operations.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.