He likely will be second unaffiliated county commissioner candidate

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 26, 2014

Thursday marked the beginning of early voting in the primary, but the second unaffiliated candidate running for a commissioner seat already is heading toward a place on the November ballot.
Gene Miller said he has received and turned in 4,375 signatures to the county’s board of elections – the sum of about eight weeks of work meeting with citizens all over the county.
Miller is following Raymond Coltrain, who recently pulled off the same feat.
During his campaigning, Miller said he was averaging about 400 to 500 signatures a week.
The signatures advocate for Miller’s name being placed into the pot of candidates vying for the three seats opening up on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners in the general election.
Miller said he plans to file next week as soon as elections officials alert him he has garnered the necessary 3,646 signatures, or required 4 percent of registered Rowan County voters, to solidify his position on the ballot this fall.
As of Friday afternoon, Miller said about 3,330 of the signatures he submitted have been approved.
“I still need about another 300-and-something to be certified, but I just turned in 775 signatures on Thursday,” Miller said. “Since I’ve turned those in, I’ve already received a little over another 200 signatures. I’m really somewhere right now at about 4,600 signatures.”
Once the signatures are certified by elections officials, Miller said he will head to the county administration building, pay his filing fee and fill out the necessary candidate forms.
Miller said he was disheartened when he was a frontrunner in the 2012 commissioner primary by more than 1,200 votes, but then lost in the subsequent runoff by about 200 votes.
“I wanted to run unaffiliated. If people really want me on there and they will sign my petition, I can go straight to the general election and not have to worry about a primary again,” Miller said. “I know what the job entails. I know, after having worked with numerous different commissioners, what the good and bad traits are. I’d like to think I can make an improvement if I get on the commission.”
Miller said he is seeking to be more open and “more of a negotiator” with people.
A commissioner ultimately has to listen, Miller said.
“You have to listen to people and consider what they are saying. You may not always agree, but you have the courtesy, civility and professionalism to listen and consider what they are saying,” Miller said.
Commissioners are responsible for balancing the budget, providing for the needs of the citizens in the community and setting policy for the county, Miller said.
Visiting people to get signatures gave Miller a chance to get the “pulse of the community.”
Miller said he has had as many as 140 people working to help him get his signatures.
“I was very cognizant of the fact that I ran well in certain parts of the county last time and didn’t run so well in other parts of the county,” Miller said. “I made a concerted effort this time to go and visit different groups and different places.”
Miller said he wants to work for all the people of Rowan County.
“I would ask that anybody who still has a petition go ahead and mail it in,” Miller said. “We’ve achieved what we needed to achieve. I’m going to continue to campaign – not necessarily to get signatures, but to do the one-on-one campaigning because I really enjoy it.”
Many people who signed the petition, Miller said, called his effort “one-on-one, grassroots campaigning.”
“I’m so appreciative for the reception I received and for the campaign workers I have,” Miller said. “If I’m fortunate enough to get elected, I will not let them down.”