DOBSON — County Commissioner Van Tucker handily defeated Democrat challenger Ronald Bowman in Tuesday’s general election.
Tucker beat Bowman by a margin of about 72 percent to 28 percent for the East District seat on the Surry County Board of Commissioners, according to unofficial election results. More than 30,000 county residents cast ballots in the election.
Tucker, 60, of Shoals Road, was appointed to fill the unexpired term of long-time East District Commissioner Paul Johnson in February after Johnson pleaded guilty to felony charges related to his county travel vouchers.
Prior to Johnson’s plea, Tucker had already filed to run against the veteran commissioner in the GOP primary. After the plea, Johnson became no longer eligible to hold public office, and Tucker sailed to victory in the March primary.
Tucker founded a home healthcare business in Pilot Mountain and had served on various public boards, including the Surry Community College Board of Trustees.
Bowman, 67, of Groundhog Trail, is a life-long Democrat, who said he holds conservative values. Throughout his campaign, he conveyed a message of the importance of economic development and safety in schools and noted he would like to eventually provide tax relief for senior citizens.
Bowman is retired from working security at Northern Hospital of Surry County and had never held nor sought public office.
“The margin is far greater than I expected,” said Tucker. “I am deeply humbled by those margins.”
“I am appreciative and thankful the good people of Surry County have placed their confidence in me,” added Tucker.
Tucker said he wouldn’t be doing any cartwheels Tuesday night. Instead, he believes the standard is now set high for him.
“I feel like there’s even more responsibility to live up to the expectations of Surry County residents,” explained Tucker. “I’ll repay that debt by working as hard as I possibly can. I’ll try to do the best I can for this great county.”
Tucker said the county faces many challenges, and he will continue to work at addressing those challenges, which include capital needs such as a jail and updates to school facilities.
“There are great challenges and expenses which lie ahead, and I’ll be working alongside the other four commissioners to address those,” said Tucker.
Tucker also had kind words for his opponent.
“Mr. Bowman seems to be a very nice gentleman, and I appreciate that he ran a clean campaign — on his part,” said Tucker. “I can appreciate anybody who gives the time and effort to do this.”
“I’ll be his commissioner, just like I’ll be everybody else’s commissioner.”
Bowman was congratulatory Tuesday night.
“We did everything we could possibly do. I don’t know of anything we could have changed,” said Bowman after election results trickled in. “Congratulations goes to him.”
Other positions in the county were also up for grabs. However, Register of Deeds Carolyn Comer, Mount Airy District Commissioner Larry Johnson and Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor Glenn Stuart Pruitt ran unopposed on Tuesday.
Comer, a veteran Democrat who has survived multiple election cycles in a GOP stronghold, said she’s happy to have earned the public’s trust.
“I’m incredibly grateful to have been re-elected. After 40 years in the Register of Deeds office – the last 12 as our elected registrar – I am humbled to have had, and continue to have the trust and confidence of the people of our county,” wrote Comer in a statement.
“We’ve worked hard to make sure our office operate above the political fray, and I believe that approach has been appreciated,” added Comer. “I thank our citizens for their belief in me, and want them to know that I truly do appreciate the opportunity to serve as their Surry County Register of Deeds.”
Johnson won a five-way race to unseat Commissioner Jimmy Miller in March’s GOP primary. He also filled Miller’s unexpired term after the veteran commissioner resigned in March. However, Johnson had no Democrat challengers on Tuesday.
He could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Four members also faced re-election races for Mount Airy School Board, and all four won by default on Tuesday.
School Board Chair Wendy Carriker was among the four. She was first appointed to the board in 1996 and represents District D.
Michael Marion, who represents Mount Airy District B on the board, faced a bid to be retained after being appointed to his seat in 2015. However, since no opponent filed against him, Marion earned his first elected term in office Tuesday evening.
Phillip Thacker was first elected to the Mount Airy School Board to represent District A in 2000. He earned his fifth term in office when he put his name on the ballot.
Kate Appler, who represents District C on the board, also rode to an unopposed victory on Tuesday, garnering her fourth term on the board.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.