DOBSON — The field of candidates is growing for elected offices at stake in Pilot Mountain this year, including the filing of a second mayoral candidate and another person seeking a town commissioner seat.
Evan Cockerham, who is in his first four-year term as a member of the Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners, officially threw his hat into the ring Monday to run for mayor. Another sitting member of the town board, Gary Bell, earlier had filed as a mayoral hopeful shortly after the candidates filing period for municipal offices in Surry County opened, opting not to seek another term as commissioner.
While Cockerham and Bell will be running against each other, and any other candidates who file for mayor, they will not be facing the incumbent, Dwight Atkins.
Atkins announced last week that he would not be filing to run this year for his second term in that position, in order to devote more time to personal goals.
That was the catalyst for Cockerham deciding to enter the mayor’s race, he said Tuesday.
“I would never run for mayor against Dwight,” Cockerham explained. “I have a lot of respect for what he has done.”
The possibility of one day campaigning for the town’s top job had been in the back of Cockerham’s mind, however.
“I had considered it for a little while,” he said. Then about a month ago. Atkins told Cockerham that he wasn’t going to run for a second term, which led to the proposition of Cockerham in that position.
He said Tuesday that the motivation for this is to follow through on some of the efforts the town has undertaken in the past couple of years, related to economic revitalization and infrastructure investment.
Cockerham, 32, lives on Lynchburg Road and works in the computer field. He and his father own PC Medic, a business in Mount Airy.
Donna M. Kiger filed Tuesday as a candidate for the Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners.
In addition to the mayoral office, two seats on the town board are up for re-election this year which are now held by Bell and Linda Needham.
Scott Needham, Linda’s son, previously filed to run for commissioner.
Unlike Mount Airy which has races divided by wards, Pilot Mountain’s seats will go to the top two vote-getters overall.
Kiger, 56, a Realtor who lives on Main Street, said her entry into town politics reflects a desire to help continue progress under way. The candidate said she has been involved with the Main Street Committee, which was formed to stimulate economic revitalization in the downtown Pilot Mountain area.
“And I just feel like we’re finally making some progress in downtown Pilot, and I don’t want to lose that momentum,” Kiger said.
She believes town leaders also have made much headway in the past four to six years, of which she would like to be a part as a member of the board.
“I just want to work with them and keep it going.”
The filing period ends at noon on Aug. 3 at the Surry County Board of Elections in Dobson for candidates seeking municipal offices in Pilot Mountain, Dobson and Elkin, along with the Mount Airy Board of Education.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.