First Posted: 7/7/2009
DOBSON A local retiree who has been a frequent critic of Mount Airy government is now a candidate for mayor.
Paul Eich, 65, of 124 Plantation Place Lane, filed Tuesday for the office now held by Jack Loftis, who announced last week that he would not seek another four-year term.
I think I have something to offer, Eich said after completing paperwork at the Surry County Board of Elections, where filings for 2009 municipal elections in Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and Dobson began Monday.
Eich, a graduate of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), cited his love for Mount Airy, work experience in a variety of industries and his knowledge of city government among the tools he would bring to the mayoral post if elected.
I think Ive got the time, I think Ive got the skills, I think I can get it done, he added during an interview Tuesday.
Though he has lived in Mount Airy for only a couple of years, Eich has been a fixture at City Hall who regularly attends meetings of the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners. Often, he will address municipal officials during a public-comment period of the meetings.
He frequently takes aim at budgetary matters, most recently charging that too much of the city budget is spent on personnel. Last winter, he also criticized a golden parachute contract approved for City Manager Don Brookshire, which the commissioners later dissolved.
Eich additionally has called for more openness in local government, at times advocating that certain matters discussed behind closed doors be aired before the public instead.
In written material issued Tuesday, the mayoral candidate said he believes the fact that he is a relative newcomer to Mount Airy gives him the advantage of an open mind.
Eich also thinks his logical and analytical approach to governmental affairs will help Mount Airy meet the challenges of the economy and the needs of citizens.
He added during the interview that he is good at organizing, facilitating discussion and making sure public business is adequately addressed. I dont have to vote, Eich said of the mayors role, a job he envisions more as streamlining the process rather than voting on individual items.
Eich was one of 12 candidates vying for a North Ward commissioner seat on the city board which was vacated last year with the resignation of Tom Bagnal. That post eventually went to Jon Cawley, based on a vote among the remaining commissioners.
The mayoral candidate explained Tuesday that he sought the commissioner slot because it involved filling out a seat for about a year and a half, and he wanted to demonstrate to citizens that he was willing to serve.
Eich, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War, has worked in laboratory research and development, process engineering, various levels of management and other professional capacities. He has been active in volunteer service, including Habitat for Humanity and church activities.
He is not the only candidate who has indicated an interest in the Mount Airy area mayors job.
Gene Clark, a longtime executive with Bassett Furniture Industries, has said he will officially file for the office next week in a candidacy aimed at giving city government a change of direction.
But officially, Eich and Cawley are the only two people who had filed as of Tuesday.
In addition to the mayoral and North Ward commissioner offices, the South Ward seat now held by David Beal is affected by this years election. Beal announced last week that he wont run again.
Those filing for office in Dobson so far include incumbent Mayor Ricky Draughn and a challenger to his post, Kenneth Earnest, along with Kermit Draughn, a candidate for one of two town commissioner seats affected.
In Pilot Mountain, only incumbent Commissioners Carolyn Boyles and Andrew French have filed for the town election.
The candidates filing period ends at noon on July 17.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.