The stop and start candidate filing process that took place this year due to court battles over redistricting didn’t bother District 3 Republican County Commissioner candidate Pat Tillman.
He was prepared to file in December, but the process closed down suddenly. Tillman didn’t miss a beat. He just began telling people about his candidacy and waiting for the chance to file and make it official when the process reopened in February.
Tillman, who is the District 3 Guilford County Board of Education member having served since 2016, is now hoping to make the jump to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.
He said this week that the hiatus for the filing period gave him more time to consult with others and prepare for the run. He said the voters of the district already know him through his school board service.
“I’m the only candidate who has served the entire district,” he said.
He said education is a very important issue to those in District 3 and he’s been working with and serving the “moms and dads” there for years.
He said that he has done so through a very contentious time, the COVID-19 pandemic, when the debate around school issues – such as masking kids and virtual learning – has been heated, to say the least.
“I’ve been in the trenches,” Tillman said.
The Board of Commissioners is not the school board, but it does play a critical role in the school’s actions. The county commissioners hold the purse strings for a large amount of school funding each year and they also decide what school bonds make it onto the ballot.
A new $1.7 billion school bond will be on the same May 17 Primary ballot when voters choose between Tillman and the two other Republican District 3 candidates – Oak Ridge Town Councilmember George McClellan and longtime Summerfield resident Dan Suter.
The winner of the Republican primary will go on to take on Democratic contender Derek Mobley in the 2022 General Election on Nov. 8.
Tillman said that education is tightly connected to other key goals of the county government like economic development and workforce preparedness, and he said he believes his knowledge of the county’s educational landscape will benefit residents when it comes to making hard choices about school funding.
“For so long I’ve been working in the district, and it’s been a great opportunity to be on the other side of it,” he said.
He added that his experience on the school board has provided him with a “deep and wide understanding of school needs – and what we can wisely spend money on.”
Tillman said some key goals he’ll have as a commissioner is attracting and maintaining quality employers and seeing that the county builds and grows the kind of workforce needed to fill those jobs.
Tillman says that, with the right decisions, Guilford County can regain some of the notoriety and prominence it possessed decades ago.
“In the 1980’s, we had more corporate headquarters here than Charlotte or Raleigh,” he said.