Arnhols qualifies for spot on ballot

Published 8:47 pm Thursday, June 3, 2010

Staff Writ

Beaufort County has a seventh county commissioner candidate.
Aurora resident Bertie Arnhols has collected the signatures she needs to become an official, unaffiliated candidate in the Nov. 2 general election.
“They certified her yesterday,” said Anita Branch, deputy elections director, referring to the Beaufort County Board of Elections’ Tuesday certification of Arnhols’ candidacy.
Among the final formalities ahead for Arnhols was the payment of a $95 filing fee, according to Branch.
Arnhols said she planned to fill out her candidate paperwork and pay the filing fee today.
“I’m so excited, I can’t tell you,” she said Wednesday.
The next thing the candidate plans to do is send a thank-you mailer to all 1,252 people who made her petition drive work, she said.
Because she was running outside of the traditional party structure, Arnhols was required by law to collect 1,252 valid signatures from county voters. The signatures had to be verified by the Board of Elections.
Arnhols had until noon June 25 to get all of the signatures, Kellie Harris Hopkins, county elections director, said in April.
The board checked 1,566 signatures gathered by Arnhols and her team of volunteers, Branch said Wednesday.
Of those signatures, 1,290 were valid, she said, adding that others were discarded for a handful of reasons, including lack of voter-registration records for a given signer.
Arnhols’ name will appear on the ballot along with three Democrats and three Republicans running for three available seats on the county board.
The Democrats are incumbent Ed Booth of Washington, Jerry Evans of Washington and Sonya Shamseldin of Pinetown.
The Republicans are incumbents Stan Deatherage and Al Klemm, both of Washington, and Cindy Baldwin of Bath.
Though she lacks the support traditionally afforded partisan candidates, Arnhols contends she doesn’t have to campaign harder than the competition.
“I feel like I have more freedom to campaign on the issues as I see them than ever before by running as a nonpartisan candidate,” she said.
She said her platform isn’t based on what either party says it should be.
“It’s what I think we need to do to move the county forward,” Arnhols commented. “We have got to get the ball rolling to get this county moving forward, and what we have is not working.”
Larry Britt, chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party, said the success of Arnhols’ petition doesn’t alter the GOP’s election strategy.
“We had always figured Bertie would get the signatures that she needed,” Britt said, adding that perception was based on the number of votes she got when she ran for commissioner as a Republican in 2008. (Arnhols lost that year.)
“She had plenty of time, she’s put a real strong effort, spent a lot of her own money doing it,” he said.
Asked how Republicans can work against someone who doesn’t subscribe to the party formula, Britt said, “I don’t think you work against her. The effort has got to be on her part. She’s got to get the votes. We’re not really concerned about taking her votes away from her.”
Alice Mills Sadler, chairwoman of the Beaufort County Democratic Party, also anticipated that Arnhols would make it to the ballot.
Sadler said Arnhols’ entrance into the field won’t change the game for the Democrats.
“You run against them the way you run against the rest of them,” she said. “It’s just another candidate in the pot, it’s just another person on the list.”
Sadler said that voters who signed Arnhols’ petition won’t necessarily vote for the candidate this fall.
“I wouldn’t count 1,500 signatures as 1,500 votes,” Sadler noted. “Folks still have a lot to hear with regard to platforms and issues.”
She added, “We don’t discount her one bit. She’s as viable a candidate as anybody else that’s on the roster.”