Filing period for 2015 elections opens July 6

By Kevin Spradlin

Now that the dust has settled from the 2014 general election in November, incumbents and challengers alike have less than six months before being able to formalize their candidacy.

ElectionThe Richmond County Board of Elections will open at 8 a.m. on Monday, July 6. Practice generally dictates the filing period opens on the first Friday in July, which is July 3, but that is a recognized holiday in connection with Independence Day, said Connie Kelly, county elections director.

The filing period will close at noon on Friday, July 17.

In Dobbins Heights … 

The town of Dobbins Heights will conduct its election October. Mayor Antonio Blue, who lost his bid to unseat Republican Richard Hudson in the U.S. House of Representatives, is expected to face at least two challengers who have been active in town activities in recent months.

Town Council members Mary Ann Gibson and Gracie C. Jackson, both Democrats, are up for re-election as well. Jackson, however, has indicated she will not seek another term.

November will see municipal elections for Rockingham, Hamlet, Ellerbe, Hoffman and Norman.

In Rockingham … 

Mayor Steve Morris, a Democrat, is up for a second two-year term as the head of the county’s largest city. Three City Council members — C. Bennette III, Denise A. Sullivan and John P. Hutchinson — also face re-election bids.

Deane and Sullivan are Democrats while Hutchinson is unaffiliated.

In Hamlet … 

Mayor Bill Bayless is expected to seek a second term in office and continue to oversee the city’s transition in leadership. Since Bayless won his first term in October 2013, when he ran unopposed, the city has replaced its city manager, police chief, museum manager and downtown coordinator and, soon, its parks and recreation director, among others.

In addition, City Council sats held by Johnathan Buie, Tony Clewis and Pat Preslar are up for grabs. Buie, unaffiliated, is expected to seek re-election, while Clewis’ status is unknown. Preslar, who like Clewis is a Democrat, has indicated he will not seek re-election.

In Ellerbe … 

Mayor Lee Berry is expected to seek a second two-year term in office. Berry is registered as unaffiliated.

Democrat Town Council members Buddy Cooper and John Sears Jr. are up for re-election.

In Hoffman … 

Voters have a chance to keep the status quo or vote in significant, as the mayoral seat and all five town council seats are up for grabs.

Mayor Tommy Hart is expected to seek a second term at the helm of Hoffman. On Town Council, members Ricarrdo Anderson, Althea Sloan Cobb, Rory Kevin Jones, Daniel Kelly and Cynthia Northcutt must decide whether or not to seek re-election.

Each of the current officeholders are Democrats.

In Norman … 

Like Hoffman, voters in the county’s northernmost municipality of Norman will be able to keep the status quo or vote for change.

Mayor Kenneth Broadway’s seat is up for grabs, as are the seats for Town Council members and fellow Democrats Stephen Cranford, Tonia Collins and Cynthia Ingram.

In 2016 … 

Kelly noted that House Bill 589, passed by state lawmakers, includes not only the Voter ID law still on the books and ready to be implemented for the 2016 election but also will change North Carolina’s presidential primary election.

Advocates for the change felt the state’s original primary election date was too late to matter. It will not be separated from the typical May contests and Richmond County voters will begin to choose their new president no later than February. An exact date has not yet been set.

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