Filing for municipal elections in Elkin doesn’t begin until noon July 1, but that hasn’t stopped one Elkin resident from getting his ducks in a row and declaring his intention to run for the mayoral post.
For Sam Bishop, his life has been one of service, and he hopes to continue that drive if elected mayor in November. Running for elected office is something he’s been considering for months.
“Last fall, I had some people approach me to see if I’d be interested in running for town board. I had already been considering running for office. Then this spring, someone asked if I’d consider running for mayor,” said Bishop.
Municipal government is familiar to Bishop, who retired after spending 24 years working for the town of Cary in the parks, recreation and cultural resources department. He duties included organizing all of the town events and camp programs.
“The town had 15,000 people when I went to work there, and when I retired there were 90,000,” he said of the growth he watched occur to the number of residents, as well as the amount of work that went along with that population burst. “I’ve worked with budgets and supervising people.”
Following retirement, Bishop and his late wife, Pat, decided to move to the foothills, and they chose Elkin. “Part of the reason we came to Elkin was for the recreation facilities, as well as the medical facilities. We fell in love with the people here,” Bishop said.
It didn’t take long for Bishop to get involved in the community. Two years after arriving, he was asked to fill a vacancy on the town’s recreation and parks advisory board, a post he continues to serve in 14 years later. He also is an active member of the Yadkin Valley Wine Festival committee, having served as chairman the last three years.
“The current mayor, Lestine Hutchens, says she’s not seeking re-election, and I’ve talked with Tom Gwyn (former mayor) and J.L. Lowe (commissioner) and have their support,” Bishop said. “A lot of people say I’m very open to suggestions.
“There’s nothing wrong with Elkin, I want to continue to build upon what we have built,” he said. “I want to see more industries and businesses who provide decent wages for young families. The kids get a good education and go off to college, and there’s not a lot to bring them back.”
Bishop talked about the partnerships in place with Surry Community College, and its willingness to work with any incoming businesses to train the workforce to meet their needs as a benefit in this area.
“We’ve got a good infrastructure, water, streets, we’ve got a great park system, and we are getting more thanks to the Elkin Valley Trails Association,” he said. “Downtown has been revitalized, but we still need to attract more tourist-oriented businesses, because we have a trail center coming and people will be coming to this area. We’re getting there, we’ve got Reeves (Theatre) being renovated, the Liberty is a great venue.”
For Bishop, he said serving in an elected role will just be an extension of the service to others he’s been involved with since he was a child. He’s an Eagle Scout and a Vigil Honor with the Order of the Arrow for Boy Scouts of America. He is a member of the Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, a member of the Yadkin Valley Rotary Club and a veteran of the U.S. Navy where he served six years, including two deployments to Vietnam. He is a life member of the Capt. Mark Garner VFW Post in Elkin.
In addition to membership organizations, Bishop volunteers with the Elkin High School JROTC program and is an elder at the Elkin Presbyterian Church
He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in recreation and parks administration from the North Carolina State University.
Bishop has two grown daughters, one stepdaughter, nine grandchildren and is the legal guardian of a junior at Elkin High School.
Filing for candidacy for the Elkin municipal elections begins July 1 at noon, and Bishop said he plans to launch his campaign by being at the board of elections office in Dobson to pay his $5 filing fee at noon that day.
“I do have a campaign committee set up — Sam Bishop for Mayor. We have cleared all the hurdles with the state and county board of elections,” he said. “We have set up a Facebook page, Sam Bishop for Mayor of Elkin, and will be launching our campaign July 1.”
He also plans to be at Freedom Fest in Elkin on July 2 and at Mountain Park’s celebration July 4.
“The local governments are hurting now because the money we were getting out of Raleigh is not coming any more and we need to be innovative,” Bishop said. “I want to be open to anyone. As mayor I wield the gavel, I don’t vote unless someone is out and there is a tie. I want Elkin to be open. I may not be able to solve your problem, but I’m willing to listen to your problem.”
He said this fall he plans to get out in the neighborhoods in Elkin to meet the people, and give them a chance to get to know him.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.