It’s official: Former Guilford County Sheriff BJ Barnes is running for mayor of Summerfield – a town that’s been in the midst of a highly divisive political war for the past two years.

In recent months, many Summerfield citizens have suspected that Barnes, who served as sheriff of the county for nearly a quarter of a century before losing the election last November, would make the move back into politics – and, on Thursday, May 9, Barnes told the Rhino Times that, yes, he would be seeking the job.

Barnes’ wife, Dena Barnes, has served on the Summerfield Town Council for about two decades and she told the Rhino Times earlier this year that she was not going to seek reelection this November.  That means that, if BJ Barnes does win the mayor’s race, Summerfield will not have a husband and wife team in the town’s government.

In March, there were strong rumors that BJ Barnes would make this move and Barnes said at that time that he was strongly considering it.  The former sheriff has certainly been vocal about political matters since leaving office late last year: Barnes has remained in the conversation largely through his widely read Facebook page where he frequently expresses his opinions and gets a great deal of feedback, both positive and negative.

The filing period for candidates hasn’t opened yet, however, Barnes will certainly face some competition in the race – one likely one being current Summerfield Mayor Gail Dunham.  There’s no love lost between Barnes and Dunham.

One Summerfield citizen said on Thursday that there had been a lot of speculation lately that Barnes would run for mayor.  He said Barnes had met with a number of prominent Summerfield citizens – suggesting that Barnes was gearing up for the mayoral run.

Barnes said earlier this year that a large number of people in that town had been encouraging him to run, because, he said, they were displeased with the current mayor.  In recent months, Barnes has repeatedly expressed the need “to get this town headed back in the right direction.”

Dena Barnes told the Rhino Times earlier this year that she wasn’t going to run again for a seat on the council because the last two years of heated Summerfield politics was about all she could take.   At that time, she also said she didn’t think it was right for her to be on the council while her husband was serving as the town’s mayor.   That was, of course, a very strong clue that BJ Barnes was going to make the decision that he did this week.