Slate of new officers during local GOP convention; Rev. Jenkins becomes new chair

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 7, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — After serving as Rowan’s Republican Party chairman for four years, Don Vick passed on Saturday the torch to Rev. Brad Jenkins during the county’s virtual annual convention.

Jenkins, a pastor who lives in Landis, served in the Army and has started a couple of churches. In August 2019, he talked to the Post about a run against incumbent Rep. Larry Pittman for the District 83 House seat in the 2020 election, but he was not on the ballot during the primary election.

Jenkins said he has “big shoes to fill,” and will continue to draw on Vick for advice.

“We have got a tremendous, tremendous group of people in Rowan County,” Jenkins said, adding that he hopes the party “swells the ranks to make sure we keep our county red.”

Vick described his four-year tenure as “interesting” and credited the party with electing Republicans in each election. He thanked former vice chairs Brian Brady and Greg Skelly for stepping up to lead while he recovered from a stroke and COVID-19 along with his wife, Nancy.

Vick also plans to remain active in the local Republican Party, and praised the new leadership with being “a very, very strong group” that includes young people.

Rep. Harry Warren, who represents Rowan County, recalled to attendees his first interactions with Vick, adding that “it’s funny how God brings people into your lives.” He commended Vick for weathering leadership despite a stroke before presenting Vick with a plaque in his honor.

After serving as interim chairman while Vick recovered from COVID-19, Skelly will now serve as the party’s vice chairman. Melissa Eller will replace Susan Agner as the party’s secretary. Tyler Smith will replace Duane Andrews as treasurer. Andrews and Tony Yon will continue to serve as the finance chair. Vincent Spillman, who currently leads the Rowan County Young Republicans, will serve another term as media director.

A total of 10 members were elected to serve as at-large members of the executive committee, including John Leatherman, Susan Morris, Chad Kluttz, Susan Agner, Stephen Kidd, Nalini Joseph, Tonya Skelly, Terry Osborne, Trudy York and Scott Isley. Elaine Hewitt was elected to serve as general counsel.

One of several elected officials to speak during the convention was North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell, who told attendees priorities now include focusing on vaccine distribution, flattening the economic curve and getting North Carolinians back to work and school. He also praised leadership that resulted in $4 billion being available in the unemployment trust fund in 2020, which became vitally important in the pandemic.

Both Warren and Sen. Carl Ford, who represents Rowan and Stanly counties, told attendees things are speeding up in the General Assembly. Warren, who is currently the primary sponsor of 18 bills in the House, said he’s presented an average of two bills each week. He added that an override of Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of Senate Bill 37, which mandates K-12 schools bring students back for in-person instruction, is still in the works.

Ford said legislation related to voter integrity laws is currently in the works. He informed attendees of the potential for delayed 2021 municipal elections and 2022 primaries due to late delivery of the 2020 Census data, which is necessary for redistricting.

Ford also said current legislation in the works includes lifting pandemic restrictions, getting more fans inside school stadiums for sporting events and legislation related to pro-life priorities and the Second Amendment.

Candidates for elected office were able to speak for two minutes about their candidacy. Capt. Greg Hannold, who leads the Rowan County Detention Center, told attendees he is running for county sheriff in 2022. Hannold has spent more than a decade at the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office after more than a decade working in his hometown of Spencer. He faces three other Republican candidates who have announced a run for the position, including commissioner and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Mike Caskey, retired state trooper and Marine Corps veteran Tommie Cato and retired state trooper and Cleveland reserve police officer Brad Potts.

Hannold said he thinks his experience would benefit the sheriff’s office, adding that the county needs people who are going to bring communities together, bring resources in and tackle bigger issues.

County commissioner Craig Pierce said it’s important to keep Rowan County red, calling on local Republicans to get to work with 2022 candidates now to “make sure Democrats know we’re here and strong.” He added that not doing so would result in “looking like New York City, and we sure can’t afford that.”

Other elected officials at the convention included Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook and District Court 19C Judge Beth Dixon.

“Thank you to our DA and Judge Dixon and Judge (Marshall) Bickett for working so well to open up the courts,” Joseph said in the open Zoom chat. “I work in Iredell County and I see the difference between the two counties and I have to say that Rowan has done a phenomenal job in re-opening our courts and holding hearings rather than allowing for multiple continuances.”

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.