On Monday, Dec. 2, Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston filed to run for the District 8 commissioners seat he now holds. He said he wants to serve another four years to continue helping the constituents that he’s already served for over two decades.
At lunchtime on Monday – the first day in which filing opened in Guilford County for the 2020 elections – Alston was at McDonald’s with his son grabbing a little lunch and, then, he said, he planned on heading down to the Guilford County Board of Elections office.
“Oh yeah, I’m going to file,” Alston said when asked.
For years, Alston was in the Democratic majority on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners and, while that majority ruled the board, Alston served as chairman five times – more than any other commissioner in the modern era. In 2012, the Republicans won a majority on the board and Alston, now in the minority, has banged heads frequently with the fiscally conservative Republicans over many issues.
Alston said this week that, despite being in the minority on the board, he feels as though he’s been able to do some good and has helped improve the county and its operations. He said he has, for instance, helped convince the board to give some additional money to Guilford County Schools each year, and he noted that he was the leading force in getting Guilford County to hire a director level position dedicated to improving the number of supply and construction contracts the county enters into with minority and women owned businesses.
When it comes to winning county commissioners elections in Guilford county history, Alston is in some ways reminiscent of Duke basketball Coach K: Both men have impressive winning records that date well back into the last century, and, anytime either of them enters a competition, they’re usually favored to win.
In 2012, Alston didn’t run for reelection to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners after serving for 20 straight years on that board. That allowed Ray Trapp to take the job as District 8 Commissioner, however, Trapp stepped down to take a lucrative job with NC A&T University and the local Democratic Party selected Alston to fill the vacant seat.
At the time Alston stepped down, he hinted that people would see him back in politics before long, and, in 2014. he made an unsuccessful bid to knock Sen. Gladys Robinson out of the NC District 28 Senate seat. Robinson pulled in 59 percent of the vote to Alston’s 41 percent in the May, 2014 Democratic primary that also decided the general election winner since there was no Republican opposition for that senate seat.
Alston was first elected as a commissioner in 1992 and has never lost an election for that District 8 seat and rarely has he even seen any real opposition.
In 1999, Alston served as vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners and in December 2002, he became the board’s first black chairman. He was elected again as vice chair in 2007 before a subsequent four-year run as chairman.
Alston is a businessman who over the years has had his hand in everything from real estate and car dealerships to hot dog stands and other fast food establishments. While on the Board of Commissioners, the liberal Alston has often been a lightening rod for conservative political foes such as outspoken Republican Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Alan Branson.