PILOT MOUNTAIN — Incumbent Commissioner Kim Quinn will be joined by newcomer Evan Cockerham on the Pilot Mountain Board of Commissioners.
Four candidates vied for two at-large seats. Cockerham came in first with 407 votes, or 34 percent, with Quinn close behind at 359 votes, or 30 percent.
They beat out Mary Nunn Meijboom (267 votes, 22.3 percent) and Franklin Nichols (154, 12.9 percent).
Quinn, 41, is a certified public accountant and has served on the town board since being appointed in 2014. Thus, this was her first appearance on the ballot.
Cockerham, 30, is employed at his family’s business, P.C. Medic Computers, in Mount Airy.
A political newcomer, Cockerham put in many hours of time getting out in the community to meet voters. That not only impressed his constituents, it impressed his opponents.
“Evan did one hell of a job of knocking on doors and meeting every resident,” said Nichols. “He did a very good job and ran a super-clean campaign.” Right after the polls closed, Nichols said he called Evan to congratulate the young man.
“I hope what I saw from him in the campaign transfers over to the board,” said Nichols, 50. If that hard work and openness carries over, then Evan has his respect.
As for his own performance (12.9 percent), Nichols said, “My low numbers show a lack of ability to put in time to knock on doors.” He said if he had the time and ability to get around and present his ideas to the community, then maybe he and Evan could be going into office together, but he is still pleased with the outcome.
The four candidates brought up many issues important to the town and talked over things, Nichols said. The debates were great for Pilot Mountain.
Quinn said she was pleased by the good turnout, where hundreds of people came out in such a small community.
While the presidential race helped boost participation across the country, Quinn believed that important issues facing the town board also played a big part in voter turnout.
She thanked everyone for their votes and also for getting involved in town business. Pilot citizens have become more knowledgeable and active in local politics.
Quinn said she thinks her openness has resonated with voters. She is active on Facebook, communicating with the public on issues both good and bad.
While most races are divided by party lines, Quinn said she is glad that the town race is nonpartisan so that voters can judge candidates based on their performance, not their red or blue colors.
Cockerham said, “I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as commissioner.” He said his campaign raised a lot of issues, and he can’t wait to get to work on them.
In the beginning, Cockerham threw his hat in the race because of his concerns over infrastructure. He worried that the town could be getting passed over for new businesses because of the state of the water plant, roads and the tax rate.
What he found during his lengthy door-to-door approach was that there are a lot more issues that are important to taxpayers. He said he will continue to keep his door open so that folks can have a say in government at the local level.
As for his opponents, Cockerham called them all good folks.
“The town is better off for having these people in it,” he said of the other three. “I want to congratulate them on their campaigns.” He said he hopes that their small corner of the world can set a shining example of how politics could be. The four of them became closer through this race and he wants to remain friends with them.
Meijboom, 67, owner of Nunn Memorials, said she is excited for Kim and Evan.
“I’ll be giving my 100-percent support for the ones the voters have supported,” she said.
Meijboom came up eight percentage points behind Quinn, but believes she performed well.
“You do all that you feel like you can do; when the people speak, you have to listen.”
Pilot is a small town with people who care for one another, Meijboom said. She believes that Evan and Kim want what is best for the town.
The town has some great commissioners on the board already, and some great ones coming in, she said. She and her husband have long attended town meetings and said they will continue to stay up on town issues.
One thing is certain: Pilot will have youth on its side.
After looking at the ballot, Cockerham at 30 noticed he is the youngest person to be elected in Surry County this year. Quinn isn’t exactly a senior citizen at 41.
She said she is excited that the public is looking toward its younger candidates with their fresh ideas. She believes the people are ready for new solutions.
Cockerham said he hopes to set a good example for other young adults to take part in their communities and make a difference.
• In an interesting development during this heavily debated election season, the polling precinct was slow much of the day.
In mid-afternoon Tuesday, Nichols noted that 48 percent of registered voters in the county cast a ballot early, and the town usually only gets a turnout in the 60s, so he knew many of the votes had already been cast.
According to the Surry County Board of Elections, more than 21,000 votes were cast across the county in early voting, with 804 in this two-position race in Pilot Mountain. The final count was 31,694 votes in Surry, with 1,198 cast for two seats in this race.
Very similar to the final results, early voting put Cockerham in the lead at 276 votes (34.3 percent), with Quinn in second at 236 (29.4), Meijboom 201 (25.0) and Nichols at 85 (10.6), with six write-in candidates.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.