PILOT MOUNTAIN — At Tuesday night’s Democrat candidate forum, four candidates running for the two seats that will be opening up on the board got a chance to say a few words about why the crowd should chose them.
The two seats that will open up during this election cycle will be those of Commissioners Carolyn Boyles and Andrew French who did not file for re-election.
Although the seats on the town board are non-partisan, the candidates were asked to attend to formally introduce themselves to local residents.
Tammy Denny, the Democrat precinct chair for District 2, said she was pleased with the turnout of at least 80 people at the Armfield Civic Center.
“I’ve heard many times from people who ask, ‘Do we have any Democrats here?’ And I’m proud to say, yes we do. You need to congratulate yourselves,” said Denny.
Pilot Mountain candidates Dwight Atkins, George Gray, Doug Brannon and Cordie Armstrong were on hand last night.
Armstrong, 49, of 200 S. Academy Apt. 9., is the store manager of the Food Lion in Pilot Mountain. She attended East Surry High School. She said she was born and raised in Pilot Mountain.
“I want to work hard to keep Pilot Mountain a great place. I care about Pilot Mountain,” said Armstrong. “I want to be a voice for not only the African-American community, but a voice for all of the people.”
Dwight Atkins said this is the first time ever running for an elected office.
“A good candidate can insist that no taxes will be raised — anybody can make a claim like that. The leadership we need is that which listens, respects and responds to the concerns of all our citizens,” said Atkins.
He said he would like to help the town to further promote economic development.
Brannon, 55, of 301 W. Pine St., is a Pilot Mountain native as well. He said he moved away for a number of years, but has moved back in order to look after his elderly mother. He said he is active with Mount Pilot Now, which is responsible for hosting the cruise-ins each summer.
“They bring more people into Pilot Mountain and I think that helps everybody in town. It helps the businesses by bringing 5,000 to 6,000 people to town that would not normally be here, who come here one a month to see our great town. I will work for all the citizens of our great town to make it a better place to live, retire and raise our families,” said Brannon. “I will explore all options to control expenses and to keep our costs down.”
Gray moved to Pilot Mountain four years ago. He previously ran for a seat left vacant by former commissioner Sam Rule. He ran against Scott Needham and Gary Bell. Bell now holds that seat. Commissioner Linda Needham also ran and kept her seat last November.
“I love Surry County. The school systems are great here. I wouldn’t move anywhere else. I love this town. I love walking the streets and talking to people. Everyone is so nice around here. You have a lot of good things going on here. I’ve lived in other cities and towns, and it’s so nice that you know your neighbors here. I want to be somebody who is a voice for all of yas and to help make sure we are spending money where it needs to be spent,” said Gray.
He said he would like to see the sidewalks get fixed and to diminish the stray cat population in town. He said he also wants to make sure that water bills don’t keep going up every year.
Scott Needham, 31, of West Main Street, also has filed to run in this year’s race.
Larry Wall has filed to run as well. Wall, 65, of 500 S. Davis St., is a Pilot Mountain native. He served on the town’s board from 1989 to 2005.
Denny said they were both unable to attend because of health reasons.
Tony Foriest, who is running against Howard Coble in the 6th District for Congress, said he decided to run against Coble because he was running unopposed in the seat he has held for 28 years. When Foriest decided to run, he went to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He said they wished him, “Good luck.”
“They said they didn’t believe anyone can beat Howard Coble,” said Foriest. “I hope you give me your support because I believe we can change things.”
Also at the forum was Carolyn Comer, the incumbent for the Surry County Register of Deeds office. She is being opposed by former Mount Airy commissioner Todd Harris.
Candidates John Collins and David Diamont, who are both running for seats on the Surry County Board of Commissioners, both spoke during the forum as well.
Ric Marshall, who is running for N.C. Sen. Don East’s seat in the 30th District, also spoke at the forum.
Reach Mondee Tilley at email@example.com or at 719-1930.