And they’re off.
No one knows exactly how many horses will end up in the race for seats on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, but so far most of the horses have been around the track a time or two before. However, there are some new horses showing up on track 3, or rather in District 3, which encompasses much of Guilford County’s northwest.
The filing period for candidates opened at noon on Monday, Feb. 12, and closes at noon on Wednesday, Feb. 28. The six Guilford County commissioners with terms expiring in 2018 are giving it another go. The incumbents who have filed to run are Democratic Commissioners Carlvena Foster (District 1), Carolyn Coleman (District 7), Skip Alston (District 8) and Kay Cashion (at large), who’s the nine-member board’s only at-large representative. The Republican incumbents seeking reelection are Commissioners Alan Perdue (District 2) and Justin Conrad (District 3).
At this early stage in the filing period, there’s already a lot of activity in District 3, where Conrad, who’s finishing up his first four-year term, now has challengers in both the primary and the general election, if he wins the Republican primary for that district.
On Tuesday morning, John Maier – whose name is pronounced like the famous singer’s but is spelled differently – filed to run. He caused something of a stir among Republican commissioners and Republican Party officials this week because he hadn’t even been mentioned as a possible contender, and several politicos said they didn’t know Maier at all.
He’s a retired patent attorney who’s lived in District 3 for 52 years, one precinct over from Conrad’s.
Maier, 82, said running for office is something he’d thought about doing for a while and this year he finally decided it was time. He said a lot of local elected leaders are younger men and women and he believes that, with his age and life experience, he can bring a new perspective to Guilford County government.
Maier joked about the fact that he’s getting into politics late in life.
“I may be dead before the election,” he said.
Maier said that, not long ago, he was talking with a former Greensboro mayor about the fact that so many elected officials were younger these days and they discussed how someone with more age and experience might be able to add something positive to the mix. Maier said voters can expect to see him exhibit traditional values if he’s elected.
“I will stand for honesty and the golden rule,” he said.
Maier primarily practiced patent and trademark law during his years as an attorney. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Rochester and earned his law degree from the University of Baltimore in 1963 – about a dozen years before Conrad was born.
Political newcomer Tracy Lamothe, a Democrat, has decided to vie for the District 3 seat as well and so far is the only Democrat in the race.
Lamothe, who’s worked as a chef and restaurant owner, ran Riva’s Trattoria restaurant on North Greene Street before it closed in July 2011. She now cooks periodically at Sedgefield Country Club. When asked, she said the best dishes she makes are lasagna and spaghetti and meatballs.
Lamothe also does some accounting for her church and takes care of her 99-year-old grandmother. She said her background is in accounting and her skills in that area would come in handy when it’s time to craft the county budget each year.
Lamothe said her three kids are now at relatively independent ages – 16, 18 and 20 – so she’s got some time to serve the people of Guilford County and she is eager to do so.
“Before, I’ve always felt it wasn’t the right time,” she said.
Lamothe, who attended Grimsley High School and North Carolina State University before graduating from the University of Baltimore, said she became interested in local government after she attended the Greensboro citizens’ academy.
She said the current Guilford County Board of Commissioners doesn’t give enough funding to the county’s school system and she’d like to see that change. She added that more funding would help the schools retain principals.
Lamothe moved to District 3 last year. She said she lived right on the border of District 3 for eight years prior to that, when she resided in Sunset Hills.
Conrad said that, at this early stage in the election, he hasn’t heard much about either Lamothe or Maier. He said he does know Lamothe’s brother but not much else about her. He said he’s ready to face any and all competition.
“The only thing I’ll say right now is that I’m pleased with my record and look forward to running on it,” Conrad said. “I’m very comfortable with my record.”
Conrad filed to run just after noon Monday along with four other incumbent commissioners who showed up to at the very start of filing. That meant they had enough county commissioners for a quorum at the Board of Elections office at the Old Guilford County Court House in downtown Greensboro.
Conrad said that wasn’t any sort of orchestrated move by the group – it just happened to work out that way.
“I texted Alan [Perdue] and asked him if he was going down there, and we let the others know,” Conrad said.
In the other races, things have been quiet so far. Alston said he hadn’t heard of any opponents who intended to jump in the District 8 race but he said he was just going to wait and watch. Several other commissioners also said this week they didn’t know who might file to oppose them.
Alston is the only commissioner who’s running to be a commissioner for two more years rather than four. Alston was appointed to the Board of Commissioners in April by Democratic officials in District 8 after former Commissioner Ray Trapp stepped down to take a job with NC A&T State University. Now Alston is running to serve the last two years of that term.