Lineup finalized for municipal election

July 19, 2013

Barring unforeseen circumstances such as a write-in campaign, Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran and North Ward Commissioner Jon Cawley are guaranteed new four-year terms in the 2013 municipal election.

Cochran and Cawley emerged from the end of the candidates' filing period at noon Friday with no one having thrown down the gauntlet to challenge them. South Ward Commissioner Steve Yokeley, on the other hand, is facing opposition from two candidates.

There was an absence of last-minute filings or surprises Friday at the Surry County Board of Elections in Dobson, as the deadline passed with no new office-seekers coming forward except for two candidates in the town of Elkin. It and Mount Airy are the only Surry municipalities holding elections this year.

“The news that no one filed today is hard to believe,” Cochran said in a statement issued about 30 minutes after the noon deadline.

“This is such a contrast to the previous campaigns that were hard-fought with stellar candidates,” added the mayor, who won the job in the 2009 city election against three other candidates.

When reached later, Cochran offered no explanation about why no one chose to run against her, except for perhaps the fact the public recognizes the difficulty of the mayor's position at times.

“Maybe they've seen the grueling schedule and the workload,” the incumbent said of frequent public appearances and other demands it entails. “It's no walk in the park.”

Cochran said in her statement about being the only mayor candidate, “it's humbling and I'm breathing a sigh of relief. I thank God for his unmerited favor in my life. People make this city so special, and I am deeply grateful for their trust and confidence.”

The mayor said she is looking forward to continuing to lead Mount Airy. “In these turbulent times, we need stability. Some cities are on bankruptcy watch. The city of Mount Airy has a strong financial standing due to our fiscally responsible team.”

With job creation her highest priority, Cochran is “excited to see what the future holds.”

Cawley could not be reached for comment about the fact no one filed against him. This is the second-straight election in which he will have no opposition, after being appointed to replace a retiring commissioner in 2008.

Yokeley, who also ran unopposed for his first term in 2009, has no such luxury this time around. His two challengers are Jerry A. Byrd, who entered the race Thursday, and Jimmy D. Mitchell Jr., who filed on July 11.

“I think it's just the way it turned out,” Yokeley said of the fact that his campaign will include two opponents. “I just think that the two people that decided they wanted to file just happened to live in the South Ward.”

Yokeley said this doesn't reflect on what he believes is the “excellent job” that Cochran, Cawley and himself have done in city government.

The primary involving Yokeley, Byrd and Mitchell will be held on Oct. 8. The two top vote-getters will face each other in the Nov. 5 general election.

Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or