City cuts ties with $100,000-a-year consultant


Although the composition of the city council will not be officially determined before the general election on November 8, the situation in the primaries this week guarantees that the Board of Commissioners of Mount Airy will welcome at least two new faces – and possibly a third .

With his final spot on Tuesday in a South Ward race also involving Phil Thacker and Gene Clark, current At-Large Commissioner Joe Zalescik will be absent from the board at the end of the year. Under the city’s nonpartisan system, only the top two candidates in a primary run in the general election.

Unofficial totals showed Zalescik, who was only named to the general seat last September to fill a vacancy, with 377 votes. He was seeking the South Ward post now held by Steve Yokeley, who was running for general.

As the nomination period for the primary began, Zalescik and Yokeley agreed to introduce themselves to each other. This was due to Yokeley’s desire to possibly serve only a short time, which would win the universal seat since it involves serving an unexpired term of only two years.

On the other hand, the winner of the South Ward will get a full four-year term, which Zalescik demanded.

But that was derailed by Thacker, a former longtime member of the Mount Airy Board of Education, who won the South Ward primary on Tuesday with 892 votes, 51% of the votes cast, and Clark. The latter’s 466 were good for second place and a ballot in November.

Meanwhile, Chad Hutchens won a primary for a seat in the council’s northern ward now held by Commissioner Jon Cawley, who opted to run for mayor this year instead of defending the post he has held since 2008 Cawley finished second in a mayoral primary on Tuesday and will face the primary winner, Mayor Ron Niland, this fall.

Hutchens, 45, garnered 539 votes, edging out city government “watchdog” John Pritchard, who received 486. Further down the ballot was former city school board member Teresa Davis Leiva, with 417 votes, and Joanna Refvem (even 300).

The third possible element of the council reshuffle involves Yokeley, who was first elected to the board in 2009. He finished second in a three-way primary for the universal seat won by Deborah Cochran, a former personality of the popular local radio station who previously served as mayor and general commissioner and now works in education.

Cochran, 60, drew 787 votes on Tuesday (44% of the total cast), Yokeley getting 524 and Tonda Phillips 466.

Yokeley will now face Cochran in November in the race to become the city’s general representative.

honesty, conservatism

factors for Thacker

Thacker believes his first victory was the result of core values.

“During this election I have tried to emphasize the importance of being honest, being conservative with our (budget) money, having a positive attitude and treating everyone with respect,” he said. he commented on Wednesday.

“Of course I’m very happy with the outcome of the election,” added Thacker, 67, retired from Renfro Corp., where he worked as an engineer. “I’m blessed with all the support I’ve received.”

He reiterated on Wednesday one of his goals expressed during the campaign in addition to exemplifying conservatism and honesty. “We also need to look for opportunities to create new jobs.”

Thacker said as we move forward into the general election, “I want to continue talking with the community, learning more about the needs and the direction of Mount Airy.”

He mentioned that “it was great to see so many voters yesterday at our primary.”

Cochran reacts

Deborah Cochran’s successful election on Tuesday stems from genuine concerns for rank-and-file workers expressed during the campaign and the need to keep taxes as low as possible, she believes, a feature of hers in previous government service. from the city.

“I think my views resonated with voters because of my background and experience,” Cochran said.

“The United States is a nation of inflation, and I wonder how most people survive—grocery inflation is real,” she added. “Taxpayers live within their means and now more than ever, government at all levels must do the same.”

In anticipation of the general election, “I will continue to stand up for the people,” Cochran pledged.

The overall primary winner had released a general statement on Tuesday evening thanking local singer and Grammy winner Donna Fargo for her role in the campaign on behalf of Cochran.

“I want to thank the voters for taking him to the streets and showing their strong support and continued faith in me during the primary,” it read. “I would like to thank my good friend, Donna Fargo, for recording radio commercials.”

Cochran also referenced Fargo’s hit single recorded in the 1970s, “The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA”.

“We both agree that Mount Airy is the best hometown in all of the United States,” Cochran remarked.

Hutchens promises engagement

Chad Hutchens is a career law enforcement professional who is now a sergeant in the Surry County Sheriff’s Office, heading his school resource officer unit.

“I think the key to our success in the primary was what we will continue to do and that is being part of our community,” Hutchens said as a factor behind his strong performance on Tuesday. point of view and that of the supporters.

“We believe that our citizens want to be represented by those who are involved and to be part of our greater community,” he added. “We will continue to be involved and engaged with citizens.”

Heading into the general election, his campaign will maintain “our focus and vision for fiscal responsibility, community and economic development, and representation of Mount Airy citizens and city employees,” Hutchens said.

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