Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce to host candidate forum on Oct. 27


By Tom Joyce - tjoyce@civitasmedia.com



Mount Airy citizens have another opportunity next week to see candidates for municipal offices up close and learn how they stand on the issues.

This will occur through a forum hosted by the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce, to be held on Oct. 27 in the Mount Airy High School auditorium — exactly one week before the city’s Nov. 3 general election. It will begin at 7 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Candidates for three seats on the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners and mayor have been invited to attend, who number nine in all.

That includes four candidates who were the top vote-getters in an Oct. 6 primary election, incumbent At-Large Commissioner Jim Armbrister and challenger Jerry Taylor and incumbent North Ward Commissioner Dean Brown and his opponent, N.A. Barnes.

Others in the field are mayoral aspirants Steve Yokeley, a city commissioner now serving as mayor pro tem, and David Rowe, a former member of the Mount Airy Board of Education.

They were not involved in the primary — which is required only when more than two candidates file for a particular seat — and neither was Commissioner Shirley Brinkley of the South Ward.

No one filed to run against Brinkley before the official filing deadline in July, but since then two people have declared write-in candidacies for her seat, Bill Clark and, most recently, Joe Reid.

Different format

Next week’s candidate event at the high school is coming on the heels of another held on Sept. 30, a “Rock the Local Millennial Vote” forum organized by a group of younger citizens.

That forum was geared toward what candidates might do to aid those of the millennials generation.

The format for next week’s chamber-sponsored event will be different, according to Randy Collins, the organization’s president and CEO.

“There will be opening statements from every candidate and closing statements — and in between there will be a series of questions,” Collins said. “The only difference (from the earlier forum) is the candidates won’t be given the questions in advance.”

Collins said the chamber leadership “thought about it long and hard,” and settled on a format that will be guided by citizens attending the event. “We will take questions from the public.”

When they arrive at the auditorium, residents will have the opportunity to list their questions for the candidates on index cards. Those posed to the candidates will be drawn from that pool.

This will allow for more of a spontaneous exchange among the candidates rather than relying on responses prepared in advance.

“We’re going to get in as many questions as we can in a short amount of time,” Collins added of the event expected to run about two hours.

He said the goal of chamber officials is to have as many citizens attend as possible so they can learn about candidates and make informed decisions for the general election.

Local radio station owner Kelly Epperson will serve as moderator for the event.

Reid candidacy

Joe Reid, the latest write-in challenger to Commissioner Brinkley, completed campaign finance paperwork for his candidacy on Oct. 12, according to Susan Jarrell, director of the Surry County Board of Elections.

Jarrell explained that such paperwork must be filed within 10 days after someone publicly declares himself or herself as a candidate for public office. This can include an announcement through the newspaper or social media network such as Facebook, she said.

Biographical information supplied by Reid Monday shows that he is a resident of Renfro Lofts on Virginia Street and is retired from Pike Electric as director of information systems with 28 years of service.

He also formerly was employed as a systems operator with Quality Mills and as an industrial engineer with Armtex Inc. in Gastonia.

Reid has a degree in business administration from Appalachian State University.

“Our citizens need and deserve a growing and prosperous community with high quality of life,” he stated of his reasons for seeking the South Ward council position.

There needs to be “more opportunities for existing businesses to expand and to attract entrepreneurs and create new jobs, with greater appeal to more tourists who bring in new dollars, and to support our families and young people, schools, faith community, civic organizations and senior citizens,” Reid added.

“To achieve these goals, we need a board of city commissioners who leads with integrity, financial responsibility and with the vision and commitment to pursue and ensure a brighter future for Mount Airy.”

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.

By Tom Joyce

tjoyce@civitasmedia.com

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