Smithfield Herald

Political Roundup

Clayton attorney files for clerk

With the impending retirement of longtime clerk Will Crocker, the race for Johnston County clerk of court is wide open.

The first candidate to file was Clayton attorney David Ford, a 39-year-old Republican and North Carolina native.

“I am passionate about this position because it’s an opportunity to serve my community in a role for which I am uniquely and well qualified,” said Ford, who owns a law firm with his wife, Heather, on Main Street in Clayton.

“As an attorney,” Ford said, “I’ve conducted business in more than 50 Clerk of Court offices throughout North Carolina and believe this will help me bring a fresh, new perspective to our clerk’s office.”

Clerks of court serve as judges in the probate of wills and the administration of estates. Clerks also decide adoption, incompetency and foreclosure matters and are empowered to issue arrest and search warrants.

Additionally, clerks have a number of administrative duties, including handling traffic-ticket payments and managing jury duty.

Ford said his goal is to make the experience as pleasant and convenient as possible.

“It’s that service attitude, legal knowledge and business experience that I can bring to this office,” said Ford, who managed a bank before receiving his law degree from the University of Mississippi.

Ford graduated cum laude from the University of Memphis in 1996 and spent four years working in finance and management before attending law school at Ole Miss, where he met his wife.

Ford was a managing attorney with statewide law firms before joining his wife in 2010 to form their own law firm. He has served on the board of the Johnston Community College Foundation.

Pope facing primary challenge

District 5 County Commissioner Cookie Pope will face a least one challenger in the May Republican Party primary.

Smithfield Fire Chief Patrick Harris filed for the office on Monday. He is also chief executive officer and chief financial officer of Smithfield Crossings Family Healthcare and Urgent Care of Smithfield.

Harris has been a member of the Smithfield Fire Department since 1992. His experience ranges from the N.C. Forest Service to Federal Emergency Management Agency, where he served on the Southeast Regional Response Team from 1986 to 1994.

“I believe that after serving the past 29 years in state and local government, my commitment to small business, fiscal and resource management, as well as my strong family and Christian values give me the experience and decision-making background needed to serve the citizens of Johnston County as a Commissioner,” Harris said. “I truly look forward to this amazing opportunity and would consider it a great honor to be chosen by the people as the next Johnston County commissioner for District 5.”

Harris resides in Smithfield with his wife, Victoria, and daughter, Taylor Anne.

Pope also filed on Monday.

Primary guaranteed in District 3

At least two Republicans will seek their party’s nomination for the District 3 County Commissioners seat.

Chad Stewart, who has served since the death of his father, filed for election on Monday. So did Keith Brinson, a self-employed Farm Bureau insurance agent who lives in Princeton with his wife, Michelle.

“The feedback and encouragement I have received since announcing my candidacy last month have been overwhelming,” Brinson said. “It is clear that the people of Johnston County are ready for some new voices on the board of commissioners.”

“We live in a great county, but we must make wise, forward-looking fiscally conservative decisions to keep it that way,” Brinson added. “As a county commissioner, my top priorities will be promoting economic growth, ensuring that we have adequate infrastructure, ensuring that our citizens’ tax dollars are spent wisely and fighting to keep property taxes as low as possible.

“We need to ensure that our economic-development team has the support, resources and guidance they need to effectively promote Johnston County and attract jobs for our citizens.”

Strickland to seek fifth term

Johnston school board member Larry Strickland of Pine Level filed Monday for a fifth four-year term.

First elected in 1998, Strickland has been the board’s chairman for the last five years.

Strickland said his priorities would be to “work with educational leaders to continue to provide a high-quality education for all Johnston County Schools students and to reward employees for their hard work.

“Other priorities in the new term will be to continue making prudent and wise decisions with the citizen’s tax dollars (and) to continue strengthening the board’s relationship with county commissioners, municipal leaders and state legislators.”

Other filings

Also filing for office on Monday were incumbent Craig Olive, registrar of deeds; incumbent Butler Hall, school board; incumbent Allen Mims, District 7 county commissioner; incumbent Steve Bizzell, sheriff; incumbent J.H. Langdon Jr., N.C. House District 28; and incumbent Leo Daughtry, N.C. House District 26.