“At this time, I’m planning to run if everything goes well,” said Brown, who is in the last year of his present term as a commissioner from the city’s North Ward.
Meanwhile, fellow council members Todd Harris and Teresa Lewis said in recent days that their re-election plans are unclear at this point, citing demanding family and work-related responsibilities, respectively.
“I’m right in the middle — I don’t want to say I’m leaning one way or the other,” Lewis said, acknowledging recent conversations in which she indicated she wouldn’t seek another term as the city’s at-large commissioner.
“I think I may have said to some people I wouldn’t run again, and I’ve had others come forward and encourage me to,” added Lewis, who is facing the prospect of vying for an office she was appointed to just 13 months ago.
“At this point, I am still considering running.”
Harris, meanwhile, said multiple factors are figuring into his re-election plans, including the continuing challenges of a sluggish economy.
“In all honesty I can muster, I haven’t decided,” Harris said. “In all reality, it’s the tough times that we live in — I haven’t made up my mind.”
The candidates’ filing period for this year’s municipal election opens on July 1, with the election to be held in November. If more than one candidate files for a particular office, a primary will be held, with the two top vote-getters squaring off in November.
“It’s Been Enjoyable”
Brown, who was elected to his first term as a commissioner in 2007, said he has thrived on what can be a demanding job, and believes he has the time and energy to continue contributing to local government.
“I’ve enjoyed my work with the city and have put a lot of hours in and traveled a lot of miles. And I feel like I’ve gotten a lot of things accomplished,” said Brown, a retired educator who is 72, but added that he still has “a 26-year-old mind.”
He has been especially active in trying to recruit jobs through involvement with the Surry County Economic Development Commission and independent efforts including an ongoing campaign to have a prison built here when the state can afford that.
“There’s a lot of projects that I’m working on that I want to complete,” Brown said.
Attending meetings, fielding telephone calls from constituents and other duties associated with being a commissioner have not soured him on public service, added Brown, who said he knew going in what the job would entail.
But, he said, “It’s been enjoyable. I’ve really enjoyed the contact with the public, I’ve made a lot of new friends and I’ve learned a lot.”
Lewis, Harris Decisions
Commissioner Lewis is finding herself facing re-election after only about a year in office because she is filling out the term of former At-Large Commissioner and present Mayor Deborah Cochran.
Lewis was appointed in December 2009 to serve the remaining two years of that term after Cochran was elected mayor by defeating Lewis.
The longtime owner and president of Workforce Carolina cited her responsibilities in that capacity as one factor in whether she’ll seek re-election.
“I’m not saying I won’t run again — I’m weighing the time it takes me to serve on the council and the time required by my business and the fact I’m a new grandmother,” Lewis said.
“I love being on the city council — it’s very interesting,” added Lewis, who said she has tried to give “very careful consideration” to every issue arising.
If she does seek her first full four-year term, Lewis would like to continue efforts to generate jobs and see them reach fruition. “I’d like to be able to say that I’ve made a difference.”
Harris said one issue with him seeking what would be his fourth term as a South Ward commissioner is the fact his daughter is now attending Wellesley College in the Boston area.
“I’ve got a daughter who’s playing college softball, and that’s 14 hours away,” explained Harris, who was first elected in 1999. “And so it’s just something I haven’t made up my mind on.”
Of the five commissioners, Harris is by far the senior member in years of service, with Brown a distant second, and he believes that foundation of experience is something to offer the board if he does vie for another term.
Under the city’s election format, persons filing to run for a commissioner seat must live in the appropriate district, either in the North or South wards in the case of Brown and Harris.
However, anyone residing in the city limits can seek the at-large post now held by Lewis.
The last time commissioner seats were at stake, in November 2009, incumbent Jon Cawley, another North Ward representative, had no opposition, nor did Steve Yokeley, a political newcomer elected to a South Ward seat.
Contact Tom Joyce at email@example.com or at 719-1924.