The two-week filing period has closed, and 70 candidates have filed to run for the nearly 40 offices up for election in Johnston County’s 11 towns.
In Smithfield, voters will elect a new mayor and at least one new councilman in November.
Incumbent Mayor John Lampe announced in May he would not seek reelection, and Councilman Andy Moore, whose seat is up this year, decided to run for mayor instead of seeking a fifth term on the council. Moore faces a challenge from Jim Snyder, a political newcomer who’s retired from Short Journey Retreat Center.
The three at-large seats on the Smithfield Town Council are up for grabs this year, and six men filed to run.
Voters will pick three of the following candidates:
Emery Ashley (incumbent): Age 54, Ashley is an attorney in Smithfield. First elected in 2011, Ashley said he enjoyed his first term and feels the council has been successful but has more to do. His goals include efficient budgeting; improving infrastructure; ensuring local children get a quality education; and promoting the positives about Smithfield. “I’m not looking to be a long-termer, but I felt like I needed to give it another go if the voters will have me,” he said.
Andy Byrd III: Age 52, Byrd owns and operates Byrd’s Wholesale Inc. out of Clayton. Byrd said the town council needs to be more even-handed in its dealings to avoid running afoul of the law. For instance, Byrd said Smithfield could have avoided a lawsuit with Sunlight Partners of Greensboro if it had clearer rules for approving solar farms. “I think Smithfield causes a lot of its own problems, and I think a lot of that could be streamlined to where it didn’t create quite so many problems,” he said.
John Dunn: Age 41, Dunn is a certified public accountant at Dunn, Dunn & Oakes CPAs in Smithfield. Dunn said he has always been active in the community, and the timing is right for him to get involved in local politics. He plans to talk with the heads of town departments to formulate goals for his campaign. “I’ve grown up in Smithfield my whole life, and I would just like to be a part of what’s going on,” he said.
Stephen Rabil: Age 56, Rabil is vice president of Rabil Inc., a taxicab service in Smithfield. Rabil said he thinks downtown is moving forward, and he would like to help carry that momentum. The current Town Council has done a good job of cutting unnecessary spending, he said, and he would like to see electric rates fall. Also, he would like to attract more downtown restaurants and improve the town’s finances so that it can enjoy lower interest rates on borrowing. “I’m liking what the guys are doing now, and I’d like to jump on board to help them,” he said.
Charles Snyder: Age 39, Snyder is a salesman at Wayne Oil Co. in Pine Level. Snyder would like to see some new equipment for the fire and police departments, and he would like to pave and repair streets. He wants to make sure the town collects all of the fees it charges, he said, while looking for new revenue streams. “I want to make a difference in this town,” he said.
Charles Williams (incumbent): Age 45, Williams is an assistant fire marshal with the Raleigh Fire Department. Williams said he wants to continue pursuing the goals and objectives the council pursued during his first term. Those include improving the quality of life, infrastructure, streets, schools and the town’s finances. “I want to ensure that we can make lives better for the town citizens,” he said.
2 Smithfield mayoral candidates
3 Selma mayoral candidates
6 seeking three Smithfield council seats
7 seeking two Selma council seats
In the race for Selma mayor, incumbent Cheryl Oliver filed for reelection, and she has been challenged by William Overby, a current Town Councilman whose seat is not up for reelection. Joining them in the race is Jeffrey Watson, 43, who runs Christian Home Health.
Watson wants to make Selma more attractive to young people, he said, and growing its population would put more money into town tax coffers. Watson would like to build a community youth center, where people of all ages could mingle and learn from one another.
Watson also wants to grow the scope of the Selma Railroad Days Festival and to begin hosting more events in town.
“That way we can draw more people into the area and stop depending on Smithfield so much,” he said.
Two of five seats are up for grabs on the Selma Town Council, and a newcomer will fill at least one of those. Incumbent Councilman Eric Sellers, who has served since May 2009, did not file for reelection. It has been a privilege to serve, Sellers wrote in an email, but it is getting harder for him to find the time to perform his due diligence as a councilman.
“My business ventures and other areas of my life are demanding a lot of time, so at this juncture it seems prudent for someone new to step up and serve,” he wrote.
Selma residents will pick two of the following candidates:
Anthony Baxley Jr.: Age 42, Baxley is a retired U.S. Army sergeant first class and a sales associate at Lowe’s Home Improvement in Smithfield. Baxley would like to attract more business and jobs to Selma, and he wants to crack down on code violations, such as decaying houses. Also, Baxley said he wants small businesses to take off in the town. “I want to see Selma flourish and be brought back to life like it was in the ’40s and the ’50s,” he said.
Tommy Holmes (incumbent): Age 65, Holmes is a retired gas station owner. Holmes won his first term in 2011 on the promise that he would stand up and be a voice for the people, he said. If reelected, Holmes said he would continue on the same course. As an example, Holmes pointed to a motion he made at this month’s Town Council meeting that will lower town electric rates by 10 percent on Aug. 1. The motion passed 3-2, with the dissenters wishing to wait for more information. “After what happened, the citizens should know who’s working for them and who’s not working for them,” he said.
Lillie “Shorty” Langston: Age 75, Langston is marketing director for Rainbow Vacuum in Clayton. Langston grew up in Selma and said the town needs an overhaul. Langston would like to see Selma back like it was a long time ago, when people could stroll the streets to shop for groceries, get an ice cream cone and sit around and chat. “It’s important for the people to have somebody to go to with their needs and their wants,” she said. “I want to be that somebody.”
Eric Jackson: Age 52, Jackson is a history instructor at Johnston Community College. Jackson said he’s running because the people need someone on the council to represent their interests. In particular, he said, the town has neglectedthe needs of property and business owners, he said. Those stakeholders are the backbone of Selma, he said, because they pay taxes and actively try to bring people to Selma. “You walk through downtown Selma and there’s 20 empty buildings, and that’s unacceptable in a town that could really be a tourist and visitor mecca.”
Mark Petersen: Age 62, Petersen teaches physics at Smithfield-Selma High School. Petersen is a leader in Johnston County veterans’ groups, and he said Selma needs a voice for veterans on the council. The town needs to work on its infrastructure, he said, and deal with its aging sewer system before its problems get worse. Petersen described himself as a fiscal conservative and said he would be careful with taxpayer money. “We need to look at the monies we’re taking in and make sure we’re getting the most bang for our buck,” he said.
Timmy Strickland: Age 47, Strickland is a maintenance supervisor at the Hexagon Wake Park at Tucker Lake. Selma needs new leadership, Strickland said, and he would like to see property and power bills go down. He wants to clean up the abandonned houses and junk vehicles around town. Strickland also wants Selma to start collecting its own trash instead of using Waste Management, which costs residents $300 a year. “I just decided that we needed change in Selma,” he said.
Byron Wickline: Age 35, Wickline is a fight and music promoter and owner of Xtremefight Promotions and The Music Hall. From his perspective as a local businessman, Wickline said Selma needs to become more business-friendly. That way the town could grow its revenue, he said, and residents would have more to do around town. “This town has great potential if it just had the proper leadership,” he said. “There ain’t much of anything but a bunch of antique stores and a bunch of nothing.”
2015 municipal elections
A total of 70 candidates filed for nearly 40 offices up for election across Johnston County’s 11 towns. Here’s a list of who is running outside of Smithfield and Selma.
Archer Lodge: Debbie Barnes, council seat; Clyde Castleberry, incumbent, council seat; Mike Gordon, incumbent, mayor; Mark Jackson, incumbent, council seat; Matt Mulhollem, incumbent, council seat.
Benson: John R. Bonner, incumbent, commissioner, District 2; Jack Chrismon, commissioner, District 3; Tracy Johnson, mayor; William W. Massengill Jr., incumbent, mayor; Curtis Dean McLamb, commissioner, District 1; Max Raynor, incumbent, commissioner, District 3; Casandra Peacock Stack, incumbent, commissioner, District 1.
Clayton: Kurt Bienias, council seat; Bobby Bunn, council seat; Jacqueline Jones, council seat; R.S. “Butch” Lawter, incumbent, council seat; Jody McLeod, incumbent, mayor; Jason Thompson, incumbent, council seat.
Four Oaks: Chris Haley, incumbent, commissioner; Sandy Lee, incumbent, commissioner; Vic Medlin, incumbent, commissioner.
Kenly: Keith Davis, appointed incumbent, council seat; David Grady, incumbent, mayor; H.L. “Tooie” Hales, mayor; Eleanor “Ellie” Johnson, council seat; Linda Lassiter, council seat; Christel McGowan, council seat; Bobby Peele, council seat; Moses Robinson, incumbent, council seat; Larry Smith, incumbent, council seat; Mark Smith, council seat.
Micro: Russell Creech, council seat; Tim Earp, incumbent, council seat; Kenneth Holland, council seat; Jay Langston, council seat; Jimmy Lee, council seat; Christina Waid, council seat; Walter “Jay” Warren Jr., mayor; Jim Wiesner, incumbent, mayor;
Pine Level: Karen Anderson, incumbent, commissioner; Greg Baker, incumbent, commissioner; Jimmy Garner, incumbent, commissioner; Jeff Holt, incumbent, mayor; Phil Pittman, incumbent, commissioner seat.
Princeton: John Taylor Brantley, mayor; Walter Martin Jr., commissioner seat; Donald B. Rains, incumbent, mayor; Michael David Rose, incumbent, commissioner seat; Terri Toler Sutton, commissioner seat.
Wilson’s Mills: Johnny Eason, incumbent, council seat; Maxine Eason Murdoch, council seat; J.C. Triplett, council seat.