When the filing period opens at noon on Feb. 10, it looks as though Sampson might have a full slate of candidates ready to toss their hats into the ring, and a few who are going to step aside and let others fill the seats they’ve held.
Already two incumbent commissioners — Jarvis McLamb (Dist. 3) and Jefferson Strickland (Dist. 1) — have announced their intentions not to seek re-election, and at least one candidate has stated his intentions to seek the Dist. 3 seat. And we’re still two weeks away from the first official day to sign on the dotted line.
While there’s been no formal announcement yet, we know Sheriff Jimmy Thornton will be seeking another term, and it’s expected at least one, maybe more, individuals might make their own bid for the highest law enforcement office in the county.
With all the early interest and stated intentions, it looks like the 2014 race, at least on the county level, should pique the interest of voters and, hopefully, ensure that we have a good turnout at the polls come the start of both primary early voting and ballot-casting prior to — and on —election day.
Up for grabs this year are four seats on the Sampson County Board of Eduction currently held by G.H. Wilson, Mary Brown, Telfair Simpson and Dewain Sinclair; three positions on the Clinton City Board of Education now held by Georgina Zeng, Carol Worley and Randy Barefoot; Thornton’s position as sheriff; the Clerk of Court, now held by Norman Wayne Naylor; Strickland and McLamb’s seats on the Board of Commissioners along with the District 5 seat currently held by Albert Kirby; as well as state seats currently held by Sen. Brent Jackson, Representative Larry Bell and Representative William Brisson.
It’s a virtual buffet of seats that will be up for grabs, positions of public service that we hope those seeking a place at the table will want for all the right reasons, whether they are incumbents or newcomers.
Public service should be just that — service, a willingness to offer time, talent, voice and representation to the people within our county. What it shouldn’t be is a power trip, a status symbol or an agenda-creating place for self-serving purposes.
People should for office simply because they don’t like someone currently in a seat, or because they want more Democrats or more Republicans on a particular board. They should run because they care about this county, believe they can make a difference and truly want to work toward achieving goals that will better life for every resident of Sampson and not just a select few.
Anything less would be a disservice to Sampson and its residents.
While there are still many unknowns about the upcoming races, what we do know is this: Sampson has a legacy of good leaders who have placed service above self. While we haven’t always agreed with them on every issue, we’ve never questioned their intentions.
As we step into a new era, where at least two faces in local government will change, we are hopeful that this year’s elections will take the high road, where discussions will center around how individuals can best serve constituents rather than a verbal free-for-all where the focus is shifted from issues to personalities.
Sampson residents deserve that kind of election.