Competition for the May 8 primary got off to a quick start in Davidson County Tuesday, as nine candidates filed for county and state offices.
Davidson voters will elect a sheriff, five county commissioners, a register of deeds, clerk of court, three House members and two senators. County offices carry four-year terms; state offices two-year terms.Three candidates filed to succeed Paul R. ``Jaybird' McCrary, sheriff for the past 16 years. McCrary, a Democrat, announced last week that he would not run again.
Democrat Richard L. Sink, 43, of Yadkin College Road, Lexington, will make his first run for political office in that race.
Sink, who manages rental property in Lexington County, left the sheriff's department in August after 14 1/2 years, after deciding he had reached his ``maximum level of advancement,' he said.
``I've had an awful lot of experience on the Davidson County Sheriff's Department and I've had the opportunity to see the different types of training available,' Sink said. ``I would like to see more advanced training in the Davidson County Sheriff's Department,' including forensics, narcotics, crime scene investigation and general management.
The second sheriff's candidate is Chief Deputy Jim Johnson, who has been McCrary's top aide since 1983.
Johnson, 42, of Route 9, Box 765, Lexington, joined the sheriff's department in 1973.
``I've been with the sheriff's department most of my adult life,' Johnson said. ``I've thought about running for years. I always had ambitions to be sheriff.'
Johnson said his first priority will be combating the county's drug problems. He said he wants to expand the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, which brings law enforcement officers into elementary school classrooms. He said he will also push for more arrests, more convictions and longer sentences for those convicted.
The third candidate is Larry B. Weaver, 42, of Route 13, Box 2815.
Weaver, an administrative assistant to the president at Forsyth Technical College for the past five years, has been a reserve officer with the sheriff's department during that time, volunteering about 60 to 70 hours a month.
``What I've seen is a lot of good talent leaving the sheriff's office because of the image of the sheriff's department and the lack of morale,' he said.
Weaver said he would like to initiate training programs for deputies and encourage them to seek advanced degrees that would increase the professionalism of the office. There also is a need for more modern, computerized equipment in the department and more outreach into the community, he said.
Four candidates filed for the five seats on the Davidson County Board of Commissioners.
Priscilla Hunt Hege, 39, of Route 21, Box 1854, Lexington, is making her first run for office.
Hege, a Democrat, recently received a bachelor's degree in education from Catawba College and plans to teach school.
``I plan to do my homework when it comes to studying the issues and knowing the issues that affect Davidson County,' she said. ``I feel like I can listen to the people and talk about the things that are important to them.'
R. Bruce Cope, 62, of Route 16, Box 2454 in Lexington, also is a political newcomer.
The Democrat was tax administrator for Davidson County from 1974 to 1987 and interim tax administrator in Rockingham County from 1988 to 1989. He has also been a printer and a vocational instructor.
``I would do my utmost to restore the integrity of the board and the confidence of the voters,' Cope said. ``The voters of Davidson County have been shortchanged by the current administration.'
K. Randall Rhodes, 38, of 215 Beach Retreat in Lexington also is a newcomer.
Rhodes said his experience as a self-employed contractor has brought him in contact with several county departments and their problems.
``I've seen a lot of things going on that should not be,' Rhodes said, citing disorganization in the tax and inspections offices. The county needs leadership that can ensure residents will receive the services their taxes pay for, Rhodes said.
Carroll Smith, 58, of Route 19, Box 878, Lexington, also is making his first run.
Smith, a Democrat, works at Davidson Office Equipment and as a part-time salesman for the Sherwin-Williams Co. paint store.
``I'm not satisfied with some of the things happening in county government,' Smith said. ``I see that there are things that need to be improved,' including increasing the quality of county services and programs, he said.
Filing for clerk of court was Marshall D. Nance, 48, of 704 Windsor Ave., Lexington.
Nance, a Democrat, has been a member of the Davidson County sheriff's office for the past 20 years.
``Dealing with the complex problems of our citizens ... has helped me understand that we need a qualified person to serve as clerk of court,' Nance said. ``I feel that I have the qualifications and skills to do the job.'
Finally, Charles L. Cromer, 50, of Route 4, Thomasville, filed for a fourth consecutive two-year term representing the 37th District in the state House of Representatives.
Cromer, a Republican and an attorney in Thomasville, said one of his priorities in the upcoming session of the General Assembly will be tightening the budget.
``One of our main focuses is going to be on the budget, because we went over budget,' said Cromer, who predicted a $500 million shortfall. ``We will either have to raise taxes or find a way to reduce government.'