LAURINBURG — With Whit Gibson filing to run for a second term on the Scotland County Board of Commissioners, all four incumbent commissioners are aiming to keep their seats in the 2016 election.
A Laurinburg High School graduate with a bachelor’s degree from UNC-CH, Gibson’s career includes 26 years as Scotland County Clerk of Superior Court on top of a stint as a prison superintendent with the N.C. Department of Corrections. Upon his retirement from the Clerk of Court’s office, he was presented with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Since 2007, he has worked with First Capital Bank as its security officer. On the board of commissioners, Gibson serves as an at-large member.
“I love this county and I think that I know something about managing resources,” Gibson said of his initial inclination to seek a commissioner’s seat. “I felt like, if I have those abilities and that interest, I had something to offer.”
Gibson is encouraged by the county’s economic gains in the last few years and steps taken by the commissioners to rectify the financial hemorrhage in its landfill enterprise.
“The economy’s a lot better in North Carolina than it is in Scotland County, but I think still that we’ve made some decisions, we’ve gotten a couple of pluses in industry with FCC and Cascades and BlueScope.”
Gibson is one of three commissioners who began meeting in 2014 with members of the Scotland County Board of Education to establish a long-term local funding agreement between both boards. Earlier this year, both boards approved funding levels through the 2017-2018 year.
Gibson will serve for the next year as the board of commissioners’ vice-chair. Overall, he said he would like the board to adopt a more farsighted approach to decision-making.
“I think we as a county need to have a greater vision of where we want to be down the line,” he said. “We don’t need to make short-term, Band-Aid type decisions; we need to have an idea of where we want to go.”
The three other incumbent Scotland County commissioners whose terms end next year have also filed for re-election: Bob Davis in the Williamson Township, John Alford in the Laurel Hill Township, and Clarence McPhatter in the Stewartsville Township, have also filed. All candidates so far have filed as Democrats.
The seats of Scotland County Board of Education Stewartsville representatives Jeff Byrd, Wayne Cromartie, and Pat Gates will be contested next year, as will the seat of at-large member Charles Brown. So far, only Karen James has filed to run to represent the Stewartsville township on the school board.
As the school board race is nonpartisan, the March primary will serve to winnow down the number of candidates to twice the number of seats available. If fewer than seven candidates file for Stewartsville seats and fewer than three candidates file for the at-large seat, all candidates will move to the November general election.
Scotland County’s register of deeds is also up for re-election next year. Incumbent L. Page Pratt, III, a Democrat, filed last week.
Filing will close at noon on Dec. 21.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.