Age no limit for Elkin’s newest pol
Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter
Bob Norton reflected on his recent Election Day victory that saw Elkin’s electorate usher him into office as its newest member of the Board of Commissioners.
According to Norton, 67, he said he will be the oldest commissioner compared to those serving. His birthday is in January.
“Elkin made a statement with the election. It proves it’s never too late in age to get involved,” said Norton.
The race didn’t come easy. Emotions ran high, and so did anxiety.
“I probably experienced the natural emotions that anybody would experience for the first time running for office. I had a lot of anxiety,” said Norton. “I had a certain amount of self-confidence. I felt I had name recognition. I have been involved in the community a long time.
“On the other hand, I knew that others I was competing against were of some qualified people, and you just never know how the electorate and vote is going to go,” he said.
Norton said he tried his best to keep his composure throughout the campaign. Six candidates were fighting for three seats. The position is a four-year term.
Early in the race, Norton hit the streets in Elkin with his belt-tightening fiscal message. He also listened to voters along the way. Norton described voters being concerned about rising water bills, a leash law not enforced, how Elkin decides which streets get paved, and the tax increase.
“Everyone had an opinion on those issues and there was no shortage on sharing them with me,” he said.
Since Tuesday, Norton indicated that he’s already been given some homework by the town.
“Town Manager (Lloyd) Payne has been most gracious at sharing information with me,” revealed Norton. “We met Wednesday and had a discussion. Apparently, I have a two-day orientation on Jan. 8-9 in Asheville, which is kind of a standard procedure for commissioners to take. He shared with me loads of documents to try to get me up to speed and we are probably going to meet again before the Dec. 9 meeting so I can have an opportunity to have a question-and-answer period with him.”
Elkin politicos have suggested that multiple candidates of the same political ideology diluted the moderate-to-left vote and allowed a narrow opening Norton capitalized on.
“I think that my position appealed to the electorate. In answering my questionnaire, I tried not to put forth an agenda that was not a personal agenda,” said Norton. “Everyone came to the table with their message. With Elkin’s recent tax increase, some candidates like Jeff (Eidson) approached his answers with facts and figures…very business-oriented. I sort of admitted to not having those figures, so I could not reasonably say which way I would’ve voted.
“With that, I hope to represent the most vulnerable. We do have an aging population on a fixed income. They can only take so many hits,” continued Norton.
Norton said a current member on the board he would reach out to work with, one that shares a style that would be similar to what residents should expect from Norton’s tenure, would be Skip Whitman.
“If I had to pick one, I would lean toward Skip Whitman compared to anyone,” he said though admitting that he has not had an opportunity to work with other board members.
“Like Skip, I am not going to stand there and let the bat rest on my shoulder. I am not going to get a hit every time. I realize I am only one voice, one vote, but I’ll be voicing my opinion,” he said.
Norton revealed that an Elkin resident and friend influenced Norton to enter the race.
“Fred Norman had the most influence for me to step in the race,” he said.
According to Norton, Norman was instrumental on helping the Yadkin Valley build up the hotel industry. Norman is a World War II veteran.
“Fred is just a true statesman and has been good for Elkin and is always putting Elkin first,” he said.
Norton said that the biggest joy he had was seeing his children arrive and surprise him on Election Day. Norton has three children, one residing in Virginia and two in Winston-Salem.
“They all came into town and worked the polls. I really didn’t expect that. That was special and they got to share in the moment,” said Norton enthusiastically.
Beyond Elkin, Norton was informed that U.S. Congressman Howard Coble, who is 15 years the elder to Norton, recently said that it was good to see Norton elected with his conservative-leaning style by Elkin voters.
“I am gratified and touched by the comments. I didn’t know he said that. I certainly appreciate the kind words and encouragement,” said Norton. The revelation caused a brief moment of silence in a commissioner-elect who needed an extra second to understand that this election, no matter what age, just got real.
Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 835-1513 or email@example.com.
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