More join town, school races

By Tom Joyce -

DOBSON — More hats have been thrown into the ring in Surry County by candidates for municipal offices in Pilot Mountain, Dobson and Elkin, along with the Mount Airy Board of Education.

This includes incumbent Wayne Atkins filing Tuesday for another term on the Dobson Board of Commissioners, and Gary Marshall becoming a candidate in the Pilot Mountain commissioners’ race the same day.

Also, recently appointed city school board member Kyle Leonard filed Wednesday to seek his first four-year term, and incumbent Elkin Commissioner Jeffrey Eidson did so Tuesday to run again there.

The candidates’ filing period for the municipal races ends this Friday at noon and for school board seats on Aug. 3 at noon at the Surry County Board of Elections in Dobson. (It earlier was reported that the filing period for both closes on Aug. 3.)

Atkins, 74, is seeking his second four-year term as a Dobson commissioner, and has been on the town board about 10 years altogether after initially being appointed to fill the unexpired term of another commissioner who vacated his seat.

However, Atkins’ service with the Dobson municipal government goes back much further, including working as town manager from 1986 until 2007.

The retiree said Wednesday that there was no overriding reason compelling him to seek another term as commissioner in the November municipal election, while pointing out that Dobson is engaged in a number of projects at present.

This includes revamping its water plant, improving the appearance of the downtown area and exploring plans for a greenway.

“And we’ve got to hire a new town manager here pretty soon,” Atkins said of replacing the recently departed Josh Smith. “Of course, we’ll probably do that before the election.”

Atkins said he is mainly motivated by a desire to provide good representation to citizens regardless of what might arise. “I’m willing to serve if people want me to,” he said.

Also in Dobson, the seat of Commissioner John Lawson is at stake this year, along with that of Mayor Ricky Draughn. Draughn filed to seek his fifth four-year term on July 9.

Pilot voters

have choices

Gary Marshall’s filing as a commissioner candidate Tuesday in Pilot Mountain ensures that all offices in the 2018 municipal election there will be contested.

Two seats on the town board are affected, now held by Gary Bell and Linda Needham, along with that of Mayor Dwight Atkins, who is stepping down after one term.

Bell has filed as a mayoral candidate along with fellow Commissioner Evan J. Cockerham.

In addition to Marshall, Scott Needham and Donna Kiger have filed so far to run for commissioner. The top vote-getters in the election will win the two seats available.

Marshall, 66, a resident of East Main Street, could not be reached for comment regarding his candidacy.

He spoke at a recent meeting of the Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners, questioning the town government’s handling of an issue involving New River Tire Co.

School board filing

When appointed in May to represent District A on the Mount Airy Board of Education — to replace a member who moved outside the district — Kyle Leonard said he planned to file for election to that position.

And he did so Wednesday.

Leonard, 28, a resident of Cherry Street, said he is interested in the local educational system and making sure it is adequately serving students, especially as the father of two sons, the oldest a first-grader.

“I want to be active in the community,” he said, which in the school board’s case includes “helping out the kids and making sure they’re getting the best education possible.”

Leonard, who is employed by Lincoln Financial Group in its operations area, said that one effort he is excited about is the dual-language immersion program implemented in Mount Airy schools which he believes greatly benefits students.

“I really like that program and want to be able to keep it,” he said, “and make sure it is able to grow.”

Candidates for the District A seat now held by Leonard are required to live in the Mount Airy No. 1 precinct.

Also up for grabs this year is the District B seat of Ben Cooke, which is limited to residents of the Mount Airy No. 2 or 3 precincts.

While Cooke has yet to file to run for another term, Tim Matthews, another school board member whose at-large seat is involved in the 2018 election process, has done so along with a challenger for that position, Greg Perkins.

By Tom Joyce

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

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