DOBSON — The final day of a candidates’ filing period often produces a surprise or two, and that is the case for the 2017 municipal election in Mount Airy.
Slightly more than an hour before the deadline on Friday, Ivy Sheppard’s notice of candidacy for mayor was entered at the Surry County Board of Elections office in Dobson. She was the only candidate to file on the final day and became the fifth person overall to join a field vying for three offices in this year’s city election.
Sheppard’s filing ensures that Mayor David Rowe will have opposition in a bid for his first four-year term in the office. Rowe was elected in 2015 to fill the last two years of Mayor Deborah Cochran’s term after she had resigned earlier that year.
The election also features another contested race with incumbent Commissioner Steve Yokeley, one of two South Ward representatives on the city council, being challenged by Todd Harris for what would be Yokeley’s third term in office. Harris served 12 years in the other South Ward commissioner seat before losing it to Shirley Brinkley in 2011.
No one filed to run against incumbent North Ward Commissioner Jon Cawley, who has never faced election opposition since he was appointed to the city board in 2008.
Since three or more candidates did not file for any of the three offices at stake, no primary will be required this year.
All the races will be decided during the general municipal election on Nov. 7.
Sheppard pledges “new ideas”
Sheppard said after filing for mayor Friday that it is a move she had considered for some time.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years,” said the candidate, who is 37 and lives on Pine Street in Mount Airy’s South Ward.
Sheppard, a professional musician who plays with an old-time band and also produces radio shows, explained that her work schedule kept her from seeking municipal office before now.
“We were always away playing music so much,” she said. Sheppard now produces old-time and gospel shows for seven different radio stations, including WPAQ in Mount Airy.
She also wants to inject a different tune into city government if elected mayor.
“I think I can bring a fresh perspective to the office and new ideas,” Sheppard said, which she hopes would translate into positive results for citizens.
The challenger said running for mayor represents a type of “calling” for her. “You know, some people have a calling to preach and I have a calling, but I can’t explain it 100 percent.”
Sheppard said she does not have any problem with the incumbent Mayor Rowe. “I think he’s a great guy.”
Yet she indicated that city government could be doing more to develop economic opportunities aimed at keeping Mount Airy’s young people in town rather than taking jobs elsewhere. Sheppard said she is excited about the potential of the Spencer’s redevelopment project and wants to see such efforts expanded.
She advocates everyone working together to improve the city.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.