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Ask Us: Readers ask about Cox’s eligibility to serve, county office closures

Editor’s note: Ask Us is a weekly feature published online Mondays and in print on Tuesdays. We’ll seek to answer your questions about items or trends in Rowan County. Have a question? Email it to askus@salisburypost.com.

While she conceded to her opponent and moved to a new residence before being sworn in, Susan Cox is eligible to serve on the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education, said county elections director Brenda McCubbins.

In the Nov. 3 election, Cox, an incumbent, won the southeast area seat (seat No. 7) with 28,550 votes. Jennifer Studer, who challenged Cox, received 27,705 votes. That result came in spite of the fact that Cox publicly endorsed Studer after the challenger filed and said she hoped her expiring term would be her last.

After the election, Cox said she and her husband had sold their home, made plans to move closer to family and were living in an apartment. But with a majority of votes in her school board race supporting another term in office, Cox said that she would serve temporarily.

In a response to a reader question, McCubbins said the address at which Cox’s is registered to vote sits within the area she represents on the school board. People are not required to be owners of the residence in which they live in order to serve in an elected office.

McCubbins said Cox’s address changed from Hill Top Drive in the China Grove area to Railroad Avenue in the town limits in September. That’s OK for the purposes of serving as the southeast area school board member, McCubbins said.

That Cox conceded and publicly endorsed her opponent does not make her ineligible to serve on the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education.

If a candidate moves after filing for office to an address not within the boundaries of the seat he or she is seeking, McCubbins said she would raise the issue with members of the Rowan County Board of Elections when she’s notified of the issue.

County offices have not closed because of positive tests

After seeing that the Rowan County Clerk of Court’s Office was closed for a period because of COVID-19, another reader asked whether any other county offices had done the same during the pandemic.

County Manager Aaron Church said there’s been an intentional effort to continue offering services and no closures of county offices that he’s aware of because of a positive COVID-19 test. Church said county government doesn’t have the same authority over court offices that it does over departments like the Rowan Public Library. The N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts has the authority to prescribe administrative and business practices in the offices of the clerk of superior court.

“In general, all county departments have been open and operational,” Church said. “There have been certain government functions that have been closed in compliance with government mandates. … In the case of parks and in the case of the library, being open has looked different.”

Until Oct. 1, for example, the Rowan Public Library provided curbside pickup instead of allowing patrons to enter the building and select materials to checkout. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, playgrounds were forcibly closed for until the state moved into “phase 2.5” in September.

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