Current Sampson County Commissioners Chairman Billy Lockamy won’t be seeking re-election to the Dist. 2 seat he’s held for the last nine years; instead he’ll be throwing his support behind political newcomer Jerol Kivett, who filed for the seat Thursday at the Sampson County Board of Elections.
With wife Telia by his side, and Lockamy close at hand, Kivett made it official, indicating his desire to hold Lockamy’s seat. He will run as a Republican. So far no one else has filed for the seat. The filing period ends Dec. 21.
With well over a dozen supporters, including the likes of former county commissioner Jefferson Strickland and son Stephen, Sheriff Jimmy Thornton, long-time Republicans Curtis Barwick and Allie Ray McCullen and T.A. Britt, just to name a few, flanking him, Kivett offered a humble thank you for the turnout and pledged his efforts toward building a better future for Sampson County.
“I would like to thank everyone for supporting me this morning in my decision to file for county commissioner,” Kivett said. “I especially thank my wife, Telia, for all of her encouragement and support. This is a decision that I have prayed about and thought through with my family.”
The county, Kivett said, has been blessed with committed and dedicated commissioners for many years. “It is my desire to continue to build a better future for our county. With that said, I will apply the ability that made me successful in business for the last 40 years to the business of running our county.”
Kivett, 63, president and CEO of the 57-year-old church furniture company that bears his family’s name, said as a lifelong resident of the county, he has always been interested in seeing Sampson grow and prosper. “The county has been good to me; it’s time for me to return a little of that. I feel I have something to offer, so I decided it was time to run.”
A Clinton High graduate, Kivett said he decided to dabble in local politics because of his love for Sampson County and his desire to see it continue on a positive path, paving the way for a brighter future for generations to come.
“I’m offering my services if I’m honored with the votes to do so,” he attested.
Kivett said his father taught him a work ethic at an early age, and it is one he has carried with him throughout his life. His first job was sharpening blades at the age of 11. He worked every day after school, holidays and weekends. If he was not in school, he said, he was at work with his parents.
“Hard work never hurt me; I think it made me a better person,” he acknowledged.
He will bring that same hard work to the Board of Commissioners, he said, if voters elect him to the District 2 seat.
Lockamy: Time to give up seat
Even as Kivett dips his toes into the political waters, Lockamy said it was time to take his out.
“Eight years is enough,” Lockamy attested when he confirmed earlier this week that he wouldn’t seek another term. “I want to back off and let someone else have a shot.”
That somone, Lockamy said, should be Kivett. “He’s a really good man with a good head on his shoulders. He’ll be good for this county, a strong leader, someone who will represent Sampson well.”
Just elected chairman of the county board, Lockamy said while he’s enjoyed his tenure on the board, he realized there were other things he wanted to do.
“I wanted to serve; that’s why I ran for the board and it’s why I’ve served for two terms. But there are other things I want to do. I want time to enjoy life, my grandchildren, running my insurance agency and riding my motorcycle. I’m proud of what we accomplished while I was on the board, but now seemed the right time to let go.”
Lockamy won a seat on the Board of Commissioners in 2009 and has held both the vice chairman and chairman’s positions several times during his tenure.
During his eight years on the county board, Lockamy said there had been good times and a fair share of tough decisions to be made, as well, but he never regretted being a part of the leadership team that is the commissioners. “I tried to give it my best each and every year, and I would like to think I helped the county ride out the storms we had to go through. We are on a good course now and a lot of that can be attributed to a good county staff and a great manager in Ed Causey. Ed is a good leader and we are fortunate to have him, and I am fortunate to have been able to work with him.”
Lockamy said he believed in community service and was humbled that voters gave him an opportunity to serve for the last eight years.
“It has been my privilege,” he said.
He said he fully supported Kivett’s run for his District 2 seat and believed he was the right man to take the reins. “He’s an excellent man. He loves this county, understands business and believes in giving back. I don’t believe we could find anyone more fitting to hold the seat,” Lockamy said.