DOBSON — After being paused more than a month ago, officials announced that the application period for candidates for local, state and federal offices could resume in February.
The filing process originally began Dec. 6, only to be suspended two days later by the North Carolina Supreme Court in response to pending lawsuits challenging new legislative district boundaries that alleged partisan gerrymandering.
Surry County Electoral Officer Michella Huff said once this issue is resolved the machinery of democracy can resume.
The Surry Electoral Board learned Tuesday evening that a final judgment had been rendered by the Wake County Superior Court in consolidated redistricting cases, Huff said. The court upheld the contested maps for the seats of the United States House of Representatives, the North Carolina Senate and the North Carolina House.
Huff also announced that the court had granted a request from the State Board of Elections to restart the filing of nominations.
It must start at 8 a.m. on February 24 and end at noon on March 4.
“Surry County Board of Elections staff will immediately begin preparing for the continuation of the candidate deposit period,” Huff added.
While indicating that interested persons should be prepared to file during the specified period, Huff said the North Carolina Supreme Court could change filing dates if it deems it necessary.
There is also a loose thread regarding a separate court order on Tuesday, Huff reported. He suspended consideration of any challenges to candidates for the U.S. House, NC House, and NC Senate, pending final resolution of the dispute in the redistricting cases known as the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters v. Lobby.
As part of the repercussions of the suspension, a primary election originally scheduled for March 8 was moved to May 17.
The Surry County Board of Elections announced in December that candidates whose filings had already been accepted by the board “will be deemed to have filed for the same office” for the purposes of the May primary.
Those who might want to withdraw from a race also have the option to do so during the new deposit period.
Meanwhile, the first in-ring hat-tricksters have been forced to take a wait-and-see approach to see how their campaigns will pan out under the new filing schedule.
They include job seekers for vacancies in 2022 in these jurisdictions:
• Mayoral candidates so far in the city – where municipal elections are non-partisan – include incumbent Ron Niland, Commissioner Jon Cawley and Teresa Lewis, a former commissioner.
• Two people filed in December to run for the Cawley North Ward seat on the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners which opened up because of its mayoral bid, Will Pfitzner and Joanna Refvem.
But Pfitzner later said he would step down from the race as he was unaware that a respected family friend, Refvem, was also seeking the position, who he believed would do a better job. This will likely happen after the opening of the deposit – or non-deposit – period next month.
• No one has filed for the city commissioner general seat now held by Joe Zalescik, or a Southern District seat long held by commissioner Steve Yokeley.
• Only one person has applied for one of the three affected positions on the Mount Airy School Board, with incumbent Tim Matthews seeking re-election to his universal seat as a Democrat.
The District A and District B headquarters of the city’s school board are also involved in this year’s election cycle.
• Among the county government offices at stake this year, Walter D. Harris has filed for a Mount Airy District seat on the Surry Board of Commissioners, now held by first-term incumbent and fellow Republican Bill Goins , who did not file a case.
• No one has signed up to run for the Central District county council seat, now held by GOP’s Mark Marion.
• Eddie Harris last month sought re-election to his Southern District seat on the County Board of Directors in a race that so far includes fellow Republican Tessa Saeli of Elkin.
• Republican Sheriff Steve Hiatt has asked to run for a second term.
• District Attorney Tim Watson, a Republican, is seeking his first four-year term after being named to the post last year when longtime prosecutor Ricky Bowman retired.
• Four people are vying for three local district court judgeships so far, including incumbents Marion Boone and Thomas Langan; Gretchen Kirkman, former judge; and Mark Miller. All are on the GOP ticket.
• Clerk Surry of the court nominees filing in December includes another Republican trio, first-term incumbent Neil Brendle; Teresa O’Dell, whom he ousted in 2018; and Melissa Marion Welch.
• The field for the District 2 seat on the Surry Board of Education so far includes Democratic incumbent Mamie M. Sutphin and Republicans Tony L. Hutchens and Brent Long.
Two other county school board seats are also up for grabs this year, including in District 3 where Jessica George was the only candidate to file in December, with TJ Bledsoe having the same distinction in District 4. Both are GOP members. .
So far, those in the field for state legislative seats encompassing Surry County include six Republicans.
• Mount Airy incumbent Sarah Stevens is vying to retain her 90th district seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives, to which she was first elected in 2008.
One Stevens challenger has emerged so far, Benjamin Romans of Roaring River.
• Four people ran for the 36th District State Senate seat in December: Shirley Randleman of Wilkesboro, who previously represented Surry County; Eddie Settle of Elkin; Vann Tate, a retired member of the NC Highway Patrol who is a resident of Mount Airy; and Lee Zachary of Yadkinville.
Candidates in the NC House and NC Senate races file their nominations with their county election commissions.
Those seeking federal positions such as congressional seats file with the State Board of Elections in Raleigh.