Election 2014 kicks off
At noon Monday, the Haywood County Board of Elections office was filled with candidates — and their supporters — as they signed the paperwork to run for public office.
On hand for the first day of filing at noon Monday were incumbent County Commissioner Michael Sorrells, Register of Deeds Sherri Rogers, Clerk of Court June Ray and Sheriff Greg Christopher, who will be running for sheriff following his appointment to the office early last year.
Christopher supporters — the Committee to Elect the Sheriff — joined him at the election office.
In a prepared statement, Christopher said he has worked hard over the past 11 months to instill a new level of professionalism, work closely with other law enforcement agencies and partner with school officials to increase school security.
In less than a year, the number of sheriff’s office drug arrests increased 34 percent, with meth seizures increasing by 101 percent and opium-based drugs seizures increasing by 99 percent.
The sheriff’s office dispatch was consolidated with the county’s emergency operations center, which has allowed fire districts to save thousands of dollars for homeowners because fire districts have better state ratings.
Additionally the sheriff’s office has expanded the jail ministry and work with nonprofit organizations in the county, as well as beginning a new program to reach out to industry.
“As we continue to move forward, the people of Haywood County can expect to see more professionalism, integrity and loyalty to and for them than they ever have,” Christopher said.
Democratic incumbent Michael Sorrells is seeding a second four-year term on the county governing board.
The Tuscola graduate operates Sorressl Store in Jonathan Creek and referenced his broad range of public service in the county ranging from being an elected school board member to representing the county on the tourism development authority board, the social services board and the economic development commission.
He referenced county debt renegotiation that saves the county about $57,000 annually, increased support for the schools and community college while keeping the tax rate low and increased private-public partnerships as accomplishments during his tenure as a commissioner.
“If I am re-elected, I will continue to be diligent in the monitoring of tax rates, ensuring fiscal responsibility and championing streamlined government,” he said.
Incumbent Democrat commissioners Bill Upton and Kirk Kirkpatrick also filed for re-election.
Upton worked as a school administrator in the county between 1971 and 2005, as was Superintendent of Haywood County Schools for eight years before he retired. He was first elected as commissioner in 2006.
"If re-elected, I would work toward keeping education a top priority, building our local economy by providing job opportunities, keeping taxes as low as possible, providing services for our seniors and others in need and working toward a viable future for our hospital," he said.
By Tuesday’s press deadline, others who paid a filing fee to officially seek election included H.D. 118 legislative candidate Rep. Michele Presnell, R-Burnsville, and Dean Hicks, a former Yancey County commissioner, retired teacher and coach, who filed for House District 118 as a Democrat. House District 118 includes precincts in Haywood, Madison and Yancey counties. Mike Clampitt, a Bryson City Republican, filed for the House District 119 post.
Presnell touted her record of lowering taxes, expanding employment, standing up for gun owners, requiring voter I.D. and regulatory reform as campaign promises kept.
"It has been my honor to serve District 118," she said. "I am proud to be able to say that I made promises during my 2012 campaign, and I kept those promises."
In a news release, Presnell listed her signature accomplishments as the passage of House Bill 628, which requires energy efficiency standards in state construction contracts to not exclude products grown and manufactured in North Carolina.
Prior to serving in the House of Representatives, Presnell served as a Yancey County commissioner.
Hicks, who is currently employed by Mt. Mitchell Golf Club, said what happened to public education and educators during the last legislative session prompted him to run for office.
He said children are the greatest asset to North Carolina’s future and need to be prepared for many challenges in a complex world.
“I truly do not believe they will get that with what is happening in Raleigh today,” he said in a news release. “If I can be a voice for them then I feel it is my obligation to be one of those voices.”
He pledged to work with anyone in Raleigh toward that end.
Rogers referenced her 20 years experience in the Haywood County Register of Deeds office, including serving as a deputy and then assistant register of deeds. She was appointed appointed to the position in July 2009 and elected in 2010.
“I have an extensive knowledge of this office and am proud to serve the citizens of Haywood County in this capacity,” Rogers said. “I enjoy working with the public. I am able to help people during important events in their lives like the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, when they marry, or when they purchase their home. I take pride in serving as register of deeds and would not choose any other job.
Ray, who has worked in the Clerk of Court office since 1981 and served as the clerk since 2002. She is active in the clerk of courts association and a past board member for Folkmoot USA.