DOBSON — Three more candidates tossed their hats into the ring Thursday for this year’s municipal election in Mount Airy, including a former local school board member and commissioner who is running for mayor.
Along with David Rowe, who served on the Mount Airy Board of Education for 16 years and as a city commissioner for one year, two more candidates filed for the at-large council post also up for grabs in the election. They are Jerry Taylor, a first-time office seeker, and Gail Proffitt, who sought the same seat in the past.
Rowe’s entry into the mayoral race means Commissioner Steve Yokeley, acting mayor of late, will have at least one opponent in a bid to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Deborah Cochran.
Cochran resigned in March, and Yokeley has served as interim mayor since.
Rowe said the first thing he wanted to emphasize was that he has no problem with Yokeley.
“I think he has done a good job as mayor pro tem, and I am not running so much against him as I am for running for the office of mayor.”
Rowe, 71, a highway contractor who lives on Country Club Road, said he believes he has the skill set to serve the city in that capacity, and wants to continue a legacy of public service by his family. That includes a relative who was a former longtime mayor, the late Maynard Beamer.
“I don’t have any particular issue on which to base my campaign,” Rowe continued. But he mentioned that money is a perennial concern and thinks supporting actions that benefit the citizens should always be a priority.
Rowe said he had contacted Yokeley about his campaign plans and that the two have agreed to remain friends regardless of the outcome.
Jim Armbrister, Mount Airy’s at-large commissioner who is seeking his first full term, already had one opponent, former mayoral candidate Gene Clark. And that grew by two with the Thursday filings of Taylor and Proffitt, which will force a primary.
Taylor, although he has never run for public office, said he was motivated to enter the commissioner race by a need for more jobs locally.
“There are a lot of things that I see,” he said of municipal issues, “and I guess the most important one is economic development.”
Taylor added, “I just don’t think the city is doing enough to bring development, economic growth, to the city.”
The candidate also would like to see more opportunities for youths.
“I am concerned about what we can do to bring more young people into the city,” Taylor said. “Mount Airy needs to have more young people — it’s a great place to live, not just for retired people.”
Taylor, 62, who resides on Plantation Place Lane, worked at the local Sherwin-Williams Paint Store for 36 years in various capacities before retiring.
For the past four years, he has operated a small consulting business.
Proffitt, the fourth candidate seeking the at-large commissioner post, also cited economic development as a concern Thursday.
“There’s lots of issues, but I’m going to stick with jobs,” Proffitt said of her top priority.
The candidate, who is 50 and lives on Cora Lane, is self-employed in the housecleaning field.
Proffitt ran for the at-large commissioner position in 2011, a race that involved a three-way primary and ultimately led to the election of Scott Graham.
Graham died in January 2014, leading to Armbrister’s appointment as his replacement later that year.
Other candidates filing so far include incumbent North Ward Commissioner Dean Brown, who is being challenged in his bid for a third term by Bruce Springthorpe, the third person involved in the 2011 at-large primary. Springthorpe joined the race earlier this week.
As of Thursday, no one had filed to run against South Ward Commissioner Shirley Brinkley, who is seeking her second four-year term.
There is still time for other hopefuls to enter the city races, with the candidates’ filing period for the 2015 municipal election closing at noon today.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.