It was a fast a furious filing day Thursday, the eve of the deadline for all hopefuls to officially file for a number of local offices as part of the 2015 Municipal Election.
Pastor Gilbert Owens wrapped up the busy schedule at the Board of Elections, signing on the dotted line to seek election for Roseboro mayor. He was one of eight who filed for election Thursday, a number that included a whopping four commissioner candidates in Salemburg.
By the time the dust cleared, Autryville’s longtime mayor Patricia Williams had made it official she was seeking re-election, and Larry Autry announced he would be challenging the mayor’s post in that town. The Salemburg commissioner hopefuls included Thomas Jackson, Don Mack Honeycutt, Johnnie C. Parker and Bobby Tew and Cynthia “Cyndi” Templin entered her name as a candidate for Roseboro commissioner.
For Garland, Ralph Smith went from resigning from the town’s Board of Commissioners to rejoining them and now is seeking re-election to the board.
Filing for the Nov. 3 election extends to noon today (Friday). Seven mayoral seats and 19 other town board seats are set to expire in Sampson. (See related box on A2 for full list of candidates)
Barring any additional candidates during Friday’s abbreviated filing period, Owens will face off against current Roseboro commissioner Anthony Bennett for the town’s mayoral post.
Following Owens’ filing, during which he was joined by his mother Jessie Mae Owens, lifelong friend Dorothy Cooper and other supporters, Owens said he will lead Roseboro to great things.
“I think I can provide for the town of Roseboro something it hasn’t had for a long time — leadership to get the town going somewhere,” said Owens, a pastor for Kingdom of God’s Ministry Church in Clinton and spiritual director of the United Methodist Church Emmaus Walks. “The town has been focused on maintaining the status quo. The town of Roseboro has always had good mayors and good commissioners, many of whom were hand-picked by the status quo.”
Owens said that his involvements in the last two and a half years have included those with the town’s North Carolina Small Towns Economic Prosperity Program (NC STEP) team, as well as the Main Street Program.
“I believe I can provide leadership to take the town of Roseboro places it has never been before,” the mayor hopeful said. “My experience in that two and a half years was used to learn how the town operated and how leadership thinks.”
Ever a pastor, Owens said he couldn’t help but quote Scripture, one particular passage he felt was apt to his running for mayor, and his thoughts about the needs of his hometown.
“The Word says ‘be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind,’” he remarked. “Roseboro is in need of transformation. That can only happen with new thinking in the town among the commissioners and the mayor.”
Owens said he has several ideas he wants to bring to Roseboro that will help it prosper, attesting that he can use “corporate banking connections in Dallas and New York … to generate jobs in Roseboro and the surrounding community.”
At times, the pastor said he has remained quiet during STEP meetings, choosing to sit back, listen and absorb information and formulate his thoughts.
“I wanted to learn and get an idea of how people think. They never know what I’m thinking,” he said. “During the campaign, they will know.”
And Owens attests he is committed for the long haul.
“My vision for the town of Roseboro is one that will not be completed in one term,” he said, noting his commitment to God and Roseboro will go hand in hand. “In addition to serving the Lord, working to improve every aspect of Roseboro will also be my life’s work.”
Reach staff writer Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.