Municipal Races to Take Shape Early
As the municipal election filing period began today, some candidates are eager to get their names out there. Others are still unsure about running.
One of the first expected to file is Pinehurst council member Nancy Fiorillo, who is running for mayor.
"I want everyone to know I'm running for mayor," she said. "I'm not shy about it."
The filing period begins at noon today and runs through noon July 15. Mayoral and town commissioner seats will also be open in other municipalities.
Fiorillo, elected to the Pinehurst council in 2009, retired in 2005 after a 21-year career in state and local government. She held positions as emergency medical services planner with the Mid-Carolina Council of Governments, community planner for the N.C. Department of Commerce, planning director for Moore County and director of planning and inspections for Cumberland County.
She said her work experience and her two years on the council prepare her for being mayor.
"These last couple of years have prepared me for what I'm getting into," she said.
The current mayor, Virginia "Ginsey" Fallon, has said she will not seek re-election to that post and will instead run for council. Fallon, a member of the council since 1993, was appointed mayor in March 2010 following the death of George Lane.
Both Fallon and Fiorillo said they didn't want to oppose each other in the election.
"I am glad Ginsey has decided to run for council," Fiorillo said. "We will see what other candidates emerge."
Pinehurst council member Doug Lapins said he has no plans to run for mayor. In 2007 Lapins ran for mayor but dropped out before the election and eventually resigned his council seat for family reasons. He was re-elected to the council two years ago.
John Marcum, the other candidate who ran for Pinehurst mayor in 2007, said he was thinking about running again.
"I'm just not sure right now," he said.
In Pinehurst, two seats on the council will be up for election. Those seats are held by Mark Parson and Joan Thurman.
Parson said Thursday he was still undecided about whether to run or not.
"I've got mixed emotions about it," he said. "It's like your mother-in-law going over a cliff in your brand-new car."
In Southern Pines, Town Council members Chris Smithson and David McNeill are mulling mayoral runs now that Mike Haney has decided to step aside.
Smithson, who lost to Haney in 2007, said he is weighing the pros and cons of throwing his hat in the ring again.
"It's been kicking around in my head for a while," Smithson said Thursday. "I'm prepared to run if I choose to, even without knowing whom I might be running against. I might even say it's likely, but I haven't made a final decision. I will probably decide toward the end of the filing period, which is historically when most people throw their names in."
McNeill, who was elected to the council in 2009, said he had hoped Haney would seek another term but is considering running for the vacated position.
"I want to talk to some people first," McNeill said Tuesday. "I'll give it some thought and make a decision soon."
In addition to mayor, the council seats held by Mike Fields and Fred Walden will also be up for grabs in Southern Pines. Walden has already announced that he will seek another term, while Fields has said he will not.
"I offered myself up as a replacement for Abigail Dowd when she resigned her seat early in her term," Fields said Wednesday. "At that time, I indicated that I would be willing to serve out the remaining three years of her term. It was never my intention to run for an additional four-year term."
Fields, who served as a council member from 1989 to 1993 and as mayor from 1993-1997, said his decision not to seek re-election was "made easier" when he heard that Southern Pines Planning Board member Jim Simeon was interested in serving on the council.
"With his long record of public service as a school superintendent and Chamber of Commerce executive, Jim will ensure that the council has capable and qualified members," Fields said. "And we need that type of experienced, level-headed thinker to ensure that the town continues to thrive and to provide the best services possible, especially given the uncertain economic climate facing our country in the next few years."
Fields said he was honored to have had the chance to serve.
"We have an excellent town manager and outstanding employees dedicated to providing quality services to our citizens," he said. "I leave knowing the town is in good shape."
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