Friday, 06 December 2019 22:02

Candidate begins signature process to run as Richmond County commissioner

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Candidate begins signature process to run as Richmond County commissioner Pixabay

ROCKINGHAM — One potential candidate will have to collect more than 1,000 signatures before earning ballot access.

According to Elections Director Connie Kelly, T.J. Davenport started the petition process Friday afternoon to be a candidate for the Richmond County Board of Commissioners in the 2020 election.

Since he’s planning to run as an unaffiliated candidate, Davenport will have to collect 4% of the total number of registered voters on Jan. 1, Kelly said. Based on current numbers, he will need at least 1,116 signatures by noon on March 3.

Davenport could not be reached for comment Friday.

Kenneth Robinette, the current chairman of the commissioners, had to do the same thing several years ago when he switched his affiliation from the Democratic Party to unaffiliated.

There are three seats up in 2020, including those currently held by Robinette, Vice Chairman John Garner and Jimmy Capps.

Capps filed earlier in the week, but Robinette and Garner have yet to do so.

If Robinette runs again, he’ll have to go through the signature process as well.

Two former mayors have also entered the race: Lee Berry of Ellerbe and Jeff Smart of Hamlet.

“As a local business owner, I understand the importance of maintaining and increasing job opportunities in Richmond County,” Smart said in a statement. “As the former Hamlet Mayor I understand the challenges of maintaining the daily necessities that we all expect such as clean water, safe neighborhoods, and updated infrastructure.”

Berry, who is also a business owner and farmer, said earlier this week that he wants the northern end of the county, which is rural, to have a voice on the board.

Capps, who would be heading into his third term if elected, said he wants to keep the momentum going that the county has built up in recent years.

The Richmond County Board of Education also has three seats up for reelection, those held by Chairman Wiley Mabe, Jerry Ethridge and Ronald Tillman. The latter two filed earlier this week.

The only other local candidate to file on Friday was Superior Court Judge Dawn Layton. The former assistant district attorney was appointed to the seat earlier this year.

State Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin announced on his Facebook page this week that he planned to run again for state insurance commissioner, a position he previously held for two consecutive terms.

While records with the N.C. State Board of Elections have yet to reflect that he has filed, another Republican, Ronald Pierce of Charlotte, is challenging Commissioner Mike Causey, who defeated Goodwin in 2016.