So the finish line has officially been crossed in the 2022 election season in Person County.
In the Person County commissioners race, incumbent Kyle Puryear will be going in for a fifth term, while newcomer Jason Thomas followed up a strong showing in the primary with a runner-up finish in the general election and will claim the second available seat.
Both received tough challenges from Democrats HollyAnn Rogers and Clyde Winstead, but the Republican candidates rode strong showings in the rural precincts of the county to comfortable wins.
The Person County Democrats, led by 20-something Anderson Clayton in her first county election as party chair, did an outstanding job organizing and promoting their candidates after a disappointing showing in the 2020 election. Clayton’s enthusiasm is nothing short of infectious and she introduced the county to Rogers, someone who recently moved to the community, but felt compelled to run for office after being dissatisfied with the current state of political discourse locally. Considering her newness to the community, Rogers’ third-place showing wasn’t too shabby.
We congratulate the winners, those who ran honorable races but came up a little short, and our community for actively participating in the electoral process.
We sincerely hope that Rogers and Winstead continue to be active in the political world in our community because it’s always a good thing to have differing perspectives speaking up.
For the first time in what seems like forever, there will be a Republican sheriff. Current chief deputy Jason (Skeet) Wilborn swept all 11 precincts en route to winning the race to be the next Person County sheriff.
Unlike his Democrat opponent Keith Daye, Wilborn didn’t have the local party putting out signs for him or organizing meet-and-greets or advocating for him.
For Wilborn, Thomas and Puryear, it was just them, their friends and families in their corners.
None of those three were considered “Candidates in Good Standing” by the Person County GOP during the primary season. Their primary opponents were endorsed by the local GOP and Puryear, Thomas and Wilborn easily won their races despite the constant barrage by party leadership on the Facebook page Person County Local (PCL).
I’m sure those of you who are interested enough to read this editorial remember the nastiness that took place during the primary, and how it was spearheaded by the local Republican party leadership and his lieutenants . To no one’s surprise, those personal attacks did not let up in the general election.
Person County GOP chair and PCL creator and administrator Chris Weaver spent much of the last month leading into the general election posting on his page that currently has an audience of around 9,500 “likes”. Weaver or other of his PCL and Person County GOP supporters have made criminal accusations about the three Republican candidates, posted disparaging, elitist comments about whether or not a guy who “stocked soda shelves” or “is just a pressure washer” was worthy or serving as a county commissioner.
To be clear, the Democrat candidates had a party that was in their corner helping them fight for every vote.
These three local Republican candidates had a party chair who was actively working against them.
So how did Wilborn, Puryear and Thomas do it? How did they manage to get elected despite getting no help from the local party?
The short answer is, they didn’t want it, didn’t need it and wouldn’t have accepted it had it been offered.
The three candidates were smart enough to know that Weaver’s reputation in this community was not going to be something that would be a benefit to them — being associated with him was only going to hurt them with the electorate.
Instead of getting into back-and-forth spats on Person County Local, Puryear, Thomas and Wilborn simply stayed away from it, put their heads down and ran their campaigns and that proved to be a winning strategy.
When all three are sworn in, we will have five Republicans on the Person County Board of Commissioners, a Republican sheriffs and if the recent words by Weaver and former commissioner candidate Liz Bradsher at this week’s county commissioner meeting are any indication, only one, Charlie Palmer, is in “good standing” with the local party.
We wish the winners well and would like to remind them of a line from the musical Hamilton:
“Winning is easy, young man, governing’s harder”