Will Dublin be the new Tar Heel?
In 2011, Tar Heel made national news when no one filed to run for any of the town’s four seats — the mayor and three commissioners.
The filing period for Bladen County’s 2017 elections opened Friday, July 7. As of press time, 17 people have filed for seats that will be vacated around the county this year — three for Bladenboro mayor, three for the three Bladenboro commissioner spots, four for three Elizabethtown Town Council positions, three for two Clarkton commissioner vacancies, three for the three White Lake commissioner spots, and one for two East Arcadia commissioner positions. No one, though, has stepped up the plate in Tar Heel for its mayoral position or any of the three commissioner spots, nor has anyone laid claim to be mayor or commissioner in Dublin.
“I usually try to call all the mayors and remind them when filing closes, and send letters to towns letting them know,” said Bladen County Board of Elections Directory Cynthia Shaw. “Last year, we had to extend the filing period for Tar Heel — we don’t have to, but we extended it out of courtesy — but we got everything filled except one spot.”
The mayoral position, as well as those on the board, is comprised of a two-year term.
Mayor Roy Dew has served the town since being written in six years ago and is making plans for this year.
“I’m planning to go this afternoon and file,” he said Wednesday morning.
Dew also speculated that two of the incumbent commissioners would be filing again, leaving one open spot with an uncertain future.
“We’re hoping someone will step up, whether it will be a write-in or someone who files,” he said. “If no one files, we have someone we’re going to contact.”
During Dew’s time in office, the town has seen growth. Hardee’s just opened in the spring, and a new Dollar General put down roots in the town in 2016.
For now, it seems Tar Heel’s government won’t come to a screeching halt. But what makes it so hard to find willing participants in small towns like Dublin and Tar Heel?
Shaw sees it as one of sheer numbers.
“Tar Heel has probably has more write-ins than any other municipality, because they only have about 84 registered voters in town, so it’s hard for them to find somebody interested.”
Though elected officials in most municipalities receive a stipend, such is dependent on the tax base they represent.
The 77-year-old Dew is hoping that in the not-too-distant future he will have someone to hand the reins over to.
“Who knows what the future holds, but I can’t do this forever,” he said.
The filing period for November’s elections will end on Friday, July 21 at noon.
Candidates for the non-partisan municipal election must file their notice of candidacy with the Bladen County Board of Elections, located at 301 South Cypress St. in Elizabethtown. Candidates must be at least 21 years old and be registered to vote in the electoral district for the office being sought. Questions regarding filing may be addressed to the Board of Elections at 910-862-6951.
To vote in the Nov. 7 election, voters must be registered by Oct 13. Voters may also register and vote during early voting period using same-day registration in places where absentee voting is authorized.
Chrysta Carroll may be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing email@example.com.