Darts and laurels: Battle ahead for local GOP

Published 11:07 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Laurels to the election process, which could be lively in Rowan County during the 2018 primary season.  A battle is in the offing for control of the Board of Commissioners and the dominant voice of the local Republican Party.

Two slates have shaped up on the GOP ballot in the commissioners race, with three seats up for election. On one side are like-minded incumbents elected in 2014: Greg Edds, Jim Greene and Judy Klusman — the group largely credited with getting Rowan back on a positive track.  Challenging them are Craig Pierce, Mike Julian and Jim Sides — men who aren’t so sure that track is right. Pierce, an incumbent who is not part of the like-minded group, has two years left in his term but is attempting to win four more years and help appoint his two-year replacement. Sides is a former commission chairman himself. Julian ran unsuccessfully for the East seat on the school board in 2016. This should be interesting.

Meanwhile, Democrats are battling to get their party off the political sidelines and back in action in this strongly Republican-leaning county. Two Democrats have filed in the commission race — Veleria Levy, former local party chairman; and Latasha Wilks, who lost a bid for Salisbury City Council in 2017.

Democrats have also filed in the congressional and the General Assembly races that involve Rowan voters — seats all held by Republicans. The state House and U.S. House incumbents may be able to skip the primary, but they won’t be able to glide back into office without a general election opponent, at least.

In the category of surprising-but-not-really is the fact that four powerful local officials face no opposition next year: Sheriff Kevin Auten, District Attorney Brandy Cook, Clerk of Court Jeff Barger and Register of Deeds John Brindle. These offices have generated some contentious races in the past. For that crew in 2018, it appears everything is copacetic.

Dart to people who are exploiting the horror of the Florida high school massacre to spread mayhem of their own. A freshman is accused of posting the threatening message that put Salisbury High School on lockdown two days last week. Fortunately, it was a false alarm. Unfortunately, similar scenarios have played out across the country since 17 people were killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Many of them were prompted by a Facebook post from a “Ray Andres” that made an implied threat against “SHS.” It was shared across the country, from Arkansas to Washington, alarming schools with the initials SHS everywhere. A 17-year-old junior at Springfield High School in Ohio has been arrested and accused of making the original post that set off the lockdowns. The potential sentence for that young woman, if she is convicted, is between one year to until she is 21 years old in the Ohio Department of Youth Services.  What may have started as a joke could lead to a felony conviction and loss of freedom for four years. Not funny. At all.

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