Candidates stated goals and answered questions Feb. 18

Published 1:25 pm Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Seventy-nine people attended Candidates’ Night at VanHorne Auditorium in Columbia on Feb. 18.

On stage were nine candidates for county commissioner and two for board of education.

The candidates gave opening statements, answered audience-generated questions, and then each made a closing statement. Kim Wheeler moderated the two-hour program, sponsored by the Tyrrell County Chamber of Commerce.

The six Democratic aspirants for their party’s nomination on Mar. 3 to fill three county commissioner seats in the November general election are Tommy Everett, Joyce Fitch, Darryl Liverman, Kisha Norman, Dorothy Spencer, and Carl Willis.

The Republican candidates for county commissioner are Seth Gibbs and Rob Thompson. Lawrence Swain is seeking re-election as an unaffiliated candidate. Their names will be on the November ballot.

School board incumbents Lee Scripture and Janie Spencer participated in Candidates’ Night. Challenger Janet Bowser was absent. The school board election will be on Mar. 3.

After all candidates had made opening statements, Wheeler posed questions collected earlier from those attending. She toggled between questions for commissioner and school board.

Commissioner questions were:

  1. What should be done about the drainage problem in Alligator, and what is the date for construction of phase 3 sewer system in Alligator township?
  2. Do you support Tyrrell law enforcement, and will you work for higher deputy pay?
  3. What would you do to make Tyrrell County a better place to work, live and raise a family?
  4. How would you work to bring more business to help the tax base?
  5. What do you think about Tyrrell County becoming a Second Amendment sanctuary, and what can citizens do to ensure Second Amendment rights?
  6. With a shrinking population, do you see consolidation of services with Columbia and/or regionally with other counties?

Candidates for board of education fielded these questions:

  1. How long have you lived in Tyrrell County, and how has it equipped you for membership on the board of education?
  2. What do you think about term limits?
  3. Do you have sufficient time and energy for the board of education?
  4. What are the current challenges our schools are facing?
  5. What is your vision for education in our community?

Answers by the commissioner candidates brought to light differing viewpoints on the county’s role, if any, in attempting to address local economic woes. They also pointed out to the audience that state and federal regulations severely limit the county’s flexibility to respond to certain other problems.

The loudest laughter and most applause came when Lawrence Swain, speaking about poor drainage, said, “If we could bar all these environmental groups from coming in here for one year, the farmers would pretty much clean out all the ditches.”

The 79 people present represented 3.6% of the county’s 2,215 registered voters and was regarded as a “very good turnout” by several local political observers. One said it was comparable to 3,600 Pitt County voters attending a similar event in Greenville.