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Incumbent commissioners Caskey, Pierce beat Republican challenger Withers

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Republican incumbents Craig Pierce and Mike Caskey comfortably secured the two seats up for grabs on the Rowan County Board of Commissioners Tuesday night, defeating Republican challenger and former China Grove mayor Lee Withers.

Caskey won a plurality of votes — nearly 38% or 9,070 votes. Pierce was close behind with nearly 34%, or 8,084 votes. Withers finished with just over 24% of votes cast, which amounts to nearly 6,800 votes. No other candidates filed for the county commissioners race. Barring the emergence of a write-in or unaffiliated candidate, both incumbents will return to the board of commissioners for another four-year term.

Incumbency likely played a role in Caskey’s and Pierce’s victory, as both have served as county commissioners since 2012. This will be their third term on the board.

“I appreciate the citizens for having faith in me for another four years,” Caskey said, adding that his campaign was more stressful because he was participating in mandatory military training during the election. “It kind of feels like it’s out of your control, so I appreciate the people of Rowan thinking of me.”

He also congratulated Pierce and Withers for having a strong showing.

Pierce echoed those sentiments, and said, “I really appreciate the citizens of Rowan County giving me their confidence to represent them with my views moving the county forward.”

Withers, despite his defeat, held his head high.

“At the end of the day, I can just take pride in the positive changes that I’ve been a part of,” he said. “Of course, I’m disappointed, but I don’t think 6,800 votes is a bad thing.”

While Pierce said he appreciates anyone who wants to be a public representative, he said candidates should be realistic about their hopes and desires, referring to Withers.

“How does it feel to be beat twice in 90 days,” he said about Withers. “In reality, he should’ve never run against me and Mike.”

He added that it bothered him that Withers “wasn’t a Republican” because of his past record of being registered unaffiliated.

“You have to be Republican full-time, not just when it’s convenient,” Pierce said.

Withers responded to the remarks by saying he didn’t feel defeated, and that he wanted to take the high road because, at this point, such remarks show character.

“The county has spent a lot of money to combat negativity,” he said, adding that the county should do what’s right to continue the positive messaging.

Withers responded to the remark of him not being a real Republican and said the only time he hasn’t been a Republican was in his younger years, fresh out of college, when he was working for county government. Then, Withers said, he was encouraged to be nonpartisan.

Withers said he doesn’t know where he’ll go next, but he plans to enjoy some time with his family and as president of the China Grove Rotary Club. He added that the “Republican party walks out of here untarnished.”

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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