Arnhols continues circulating her petition

Published 12:12 pm Friday, April 23, 2010

Staff Writer

An unaffiliated candidate-hopeful petitioning to be placed on the ballot for the November general election has collected around 457 approved signatures as part of her effort.
Bertie Arnhols of Aurora needs 1,252 approved signatures to be placed on the ballot as an unaffiliated candidate for Beaufort County commissioner.
The deadline for Arnhols to gather the signatures she needs is noon June 25, according to Kellie Harris Hopkins, Beaufort County’s elections director.
The candidate actually had collected 552 signatures, all of which had been reviewed by the Beaufort County Board of Elections by Thursday afternoon.
The elections board has to verify that all of the signers are registered to vote in Beaufort County.
Of those 552 sign-ups, 84 could not be accepted because the Board of Elections had no record of those signers’ having been registered to vote in Beaufort County, elections documents showed.
A handful of other names also were removed from the list for various technical reasons, including one duplicate signature, the records indicated.
Arnhols said she expected a petition “fallout” rate of 10 percent to 15 percent.
“I never dreamed there’d be a 20 percent (rate),” she said, adding that it’s impossible to verify all of the signatures on the spot.
Arnhols applauded elections officials for their efficiency in handling the petition drive.
“They were quick, they give you a report — it’s really a neat process,” she said.
Arnhols had submitted more pages that elections officials hadn’t been able to review as of Thursday afternoon, related Anita Branch, deputy elections director.
Arnhols said she plans to do mail advertising concerning her candidacy.
Arnhols said she has been campaigning at public events, like Washington’s Music in the Streets festival and the Beaufort County Music Festival.
The would-be candidate also placed advertisements in the Washington Daily News in an effort to get the word out about a series of town-hall meetings she held in order to bring her message directly to voters.
Arnhols said she and volunteers working with her managed to get around 250 signatures during the past Friday and Saturday nights.
She expressed confidence in her chances at getting the 1,252 signatures she needed.
“I don’t have a doubt that I’m going to get them,” she said. “It may be down to the wire.”
As an unaffiliated candidate, Arnhols is working outside the dominant two-party system. As such, she is unable to take advantage of the networking and other resources the parties can provide.
Currently, five Republicans and four Democrats are on the ballot for the May 4 primary election.
After the primary, three Republicans and three Democrats will emerge to run for three available slots on the board of commissioners.
If she is able to garner enough petitioners, Arnhols will be the seventh commissioner candidate on the general-election ballot.
She will not be an official candidate until the required signatures have been signed off on by the Board of Elections.
Arnhols last ran for commissioner in 2008 as a Republican, but her bid was unsuccessful.
In a January interview, Arnhols said she wouldn’t miss having party support this time around.
“I didn’t have that before, so I didn’t lose anything,” she said. “The Republicans are so busy fighting each other, and I don’t know who the Democrats are busy fighting.”