DOBSON — On Monday Paul Johnson filed for re-election as Surry County commissioner, despite being under indictment.
Though Johnson stated he would seek re-election more than a month ago, the long-time commissioner waited until the final day of of the filing period to officially put his name in the hat.
Johnson joins a crowded field of candidates who have filed for two seats on the Surry County Board of Commissioners. However, Johnson’s candidacy is of particular note.
In February Johnson was indicted on four felony charges of obtaining property by false pretense. The charges stemmed from a State Bureau of Investigation probe into the travel vouchers of commissioners and other top county officials. Johnson is accused of falsely reporting about $4,000 in travel expenses for which he received compensation from the county.
In March Johnson will face-off in the Republican primary with Pilot Mountain resident Van Tucker. Tucker is a farmer who also started Senior Quality Care Inc., a Pilot Mountain-based company that provides in-home care for seniors.
The victor in that race will face Democrat challenger Ronald Bowman, who is retired from a career in safety and security at Northern Hospital of Surry County.
Johnson said the charges against him don’t affect his ability to serve.
“The allegations have hurt me personally, but they haven’t affected my ability to do my job,” Johnson stated in an interview.
Johnson went on to say other commissioners have had an unwillingness to work with him since the allegations arose, an attribute he says has hurt only their abilities to do the job.
Johnson said he has served with “open-mindedness” and a “willingness to work with all, regardless of political affiliation” throughout his two decades on the board. He said he sees no reason why the next four years can’t be the same.
“Once all this is resolved, I will continue to do what I’ve done for the past 20 years,” said Johnson, adding he will be “even more aggressive” in his duties after the charges are behind him.
Johnson said one of his goals will be to keep the county’s property tax rates low, while still paying for what he deems necessary improvements to the infrastructure of the county’s three school systems. A recent study called for about $173 million in school capital improvements throughout the course of the next decade.
Johnson said economic development and continued infrastructure improvements such as extending water and sewer services throughout the county will also be his goals for the next four years.
Johnson’s next court date is scheduled for Feb. 9.
Mount Airy District
Incumbent Jimmy Miller has no shortage of competition in his race for re-election in the Mount Airy District. Miller faces four opponents in the Republican primary.
Mount Airy resident Allen Poindexter made the public aware he would seek the office months ago. Van Cooke, a retired Navy commander, announced his candidacy about a month prior to the filing period. Bill Goins, a school principal, and Larry Johnson, the founder of Johnson Granite, have also filed for the seat.
The local Democrat party did not field a candidate for the Mount Airy seat. However, there may still be two election days for that race.
In order to gain the nod in the Republican primary, the top vote-getter must walk away from the March primary with 40 percent of the vote. If not, a run-off election will be scheduled in May for the top two finishers.
Either way it goes, with no Democrat in the race, the winner of the Republican primary will take the November election by default.
Incumbent Democrat Register of Deeds Carolyn Comer will run unopposed in both the primary and general elections. Comer was first elected to the office in 2004.
The primary election is scheduled for March 15 and the general election will be held on Nov. 8.
Andy is a staff writer for The News and can be reached at (336) 415-4698.