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Incumbents and challengers were lined up at noon to file for Wilson County elective offices Monday.
Wilson County Sheriff Calvin Woodard was at the Wilson County Board of Elections office at 7 a.m., an hour before the doors opened and five hours before the office started signing in candidates on the first filing day.
“I like to be first in line,” said Woodard “This is the earliest I have ever been here. I usually come at 10. My office is going to be at the Board of Elections today.”
Woodard brought his wife, daughter and grandson to help with the paperwork.
“I’m serious about it. The community means a lot to me, The citizens mean a lot to me. The animals mean a lot to me,” Woodard said. “I’m all about being the sheriff of Wilson County. This is a serious matter to me. I just look at it as being serious, whether somebody is running against you or not. It’s still serious.”
Not far behind was Woodard’s challenger, Chris Boykin.
“Today I have filed to run for Wilson County sheriff,” Boykin said. “It is the first step in my mission to making Wilson County safer, stronger and more efficient. I am excited about this race, the chance to become Sheriff of Wilson County.”
Boykin said running for sheriff in Wilson County is “a lifelong goal.”
“I welcome the opportunity to meet with people in Wilson County and work hard to meet their needs,” Boykin said. “God willing, I will represent all the people of Wilson County when elected and will do my very best to combat all the issues of Wilson, including the opioid crisis, school safety and safety in our homes.”
Woodard, a Democrat, is seeking his third term as the county’s top law enforcement officer. Boykin will face the incumbent sheriff in the Democratic primary.
CLERK OF SUPERIOR COURT
Assistant District Attorney Caroline Quinn filed for clerk of superior court Monday afternoon. Andrew Whitley, the current clerk of court, has held the position since 2005.
Quinn, a Democrat, has been an assistant district attorney for more than 13 years. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a law degree from Campbell University.
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Bill Blackman, in his first term as a Wilson County commissioner for District 7, said he is looking forward to a second term shortly after making his run official with signed paperwork.
“The county commissioners that we have are good right now and all work very well together,” Blackman said. “We have not raised taxes since I have been up there. We are really concentrating on capital improvement for Wilson County Schools. We have stuck money back for the animal shelter, which that has been a big topic for many years. City-county relations are much better. I think they are probably as good as they have ever been. I think we have got a good group of commissioners and I look forward to working with them and the people of District 7.”
Leslie Atkinson, incumbent county commissioner from District 1, filed to run again, saying he wanted to do no more than make the county the best that it can be.
“I believe I have done a good job and I want to continue,” Atkinson said. “That’s what I’m here for, to work with the other commissioners and do the best job we can do for Wilson County. I am proud of all of the accomplishments that we have made.”
Incumbent county commissioner Chris Hill, from District 6, said he was just looking forward to continuing the work he has been doing at the county level.
“I am excited about the things we have going on and what we have done and the impacts we are making and just want to continue to grow the county on those several issues, just continuing on the strides that we are making at the county level,” Hill said. “We have avoided a tax increase. We have increased education spending. We have been able to get capital improvement projects. The opportunity is there to continue to invest in our community.”
Incumbent county commissioner Rob Boyette, from District 5, said it is a privilege and a pleasure to be able to serve Wilson County residents.
“I am looking forward to working with citizens in the future,” Boyette said. “I brought with me today my wife Beverly and my grandson Owen and today is his first birthday, which is kind of ironic, but at the time it’s great. Being a grandfather gives you a different perspective on things, but it’s a great perspective how important education is in our future, how important public safety is and security, and how important that jobs and economic development continue to be for our county, so I am looking forward to serving the public as best I can and listening to what people want to do in the future. Agriculture is important to this county and always will be. Farming and agribusiness are the bedrock of our community.”
Sen. Rick Horner filed for a second term representing Senate District 11, but the legislative district’s new makeup changes the communities his seat will serve.
Horner filed his paperwork at the Nash County Board of Elections office in Nashville after moving from Wilson to his family home in Bailey.
District 11 currently includes portions of Wilson, Nash and Johnston counties, but new maps approved during the 2017 court-ordered redistricting process changed that district to include all of Nash County and the northwestern part of Johnston County.
Wilson has been combined with Edgecombe and Halifax counties in the new Senate District 4. Since Nash switched from District 4 to District 11, Sen. Angela Bryant, a Rocky Mount Democrat, announced Monday she would not seek re-election when her current term expires.
Horner, a Republican in his freshman term, has emerged as a rising star on education policy in the Senate GOP caucus.
“I think it’s extremely important that the folks in Raleigh know that the conservative people of Nash and Johnston counties support our public schools,” Horner said in a video posted to his campaign Facebook page. “And I want to work hard to continue being a voice for public education in the Republican Party in the North Carolina Senate. I also want to assist with the economic development we’ve been doing. A lot of good things are happening in North Carolina. It’s the place to be. We want to keep the ball rolling.”
Monday was the first day for filing in 13 local elected offices plus two seats in Congress and in the N.C. General Assembly. The filing period runs until noon on Feb. 28.