Thank you for being one of our most loyal readers. Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing.
The Wilson County Board of Elections office bustled Friday as the candidate filing period opened for more than two dozen local offices.
Wilson’s Mayor C. Bruce Rose was the first to file for another four-year term. He’s held the mayor’s gavel for more than two decades.
“It’s an honor for me being able to file again for mayor of this great city that I love so much,” Rose said. “I’m looking forward to running a good campaign.”
There are 28 seats in seven Wilson County towns up for grabs this election cycle. The filing period is open until noon on July 19 for all seats.
Rose already faces a challenger, Carlton Stevens Jr., who filed his paperwork just minutes after the current mayor on Friday.
“I’m looking forward to an opportunity to work for the city I grew up in,” Stevens said Friday. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”
If elected, Stevens said being mayor wouldn’t be his full-time job, but he plans to make the responsibilities of Wilson’s top politician a priority.
“I would make it my full-time commitment,” he said in an interview earlier this week. “I would be at as many events and gatherings as possible. The city would know I am very present and willing to do what is needed to assist whomever.”
The 44-year-old father of six works as the operations manager at his family’s business, Stevens Funeral Home. Before the business opened in 2013, he served four years in the U.S. Army, pursued higher education — he is currently completing his doctorate in education leadership through Fayetteville State University — and taught for five years in Wayne County.
“I think Mayor Rose has done a great job,” he said, referring to Rose’s 27 years in the post. “However, there are new ideas and visions that need to be implemented.”
Stevens said his campaign slogan of “One Wilson” is at the heart of all he hopes to accomplish if elected.
“In June I spoke with several different people who expressed frustration about the neglect one side of Wilson encounters while the other side simultaneously flourishes,” he said. “There are neighborhoods where stores are scarce and residents have to go across town to get certain items, but equitable economic development across Wilson can address that issue and improve residents’ quality of life while strengthening Wilson as a whole.”
He said he also would focus on supporting local schools, emergency responders and bringing attention to the opioid crisis.
“The main reason I want to run for mayor is I want to bring equality for the city,” Stevens said. “I really see so much potential in Wilson and I think with my mindset, leadership style and ability to work across cultures, I’ll be able to help our city grow into what we want it to be.”
Wilson City Councilman James M. Johnson III was second to file on Friday. Johnson, the councilman currently serving as mayor pro-tem, has held the District 4 seat since 1992.
Surrounded by his family members, Johnson said the excitement of throwing his hat into the ring never gets old.
“I’m happy every time,” Johnson said. “I’m doing my part...especially after the Fourth of July yesterday. It gives you that feeling of pride.”
Johnson already has a challenger, Davonta Ferguson, who also filed for the seat Friday.
Other Wilson City Council seats up for election include District 1, formerly represented by A.P. Coleman; and the District 2 seat held by the Rev. Michael Bell, who also filed Friday.
Wilson council members serve staggered four-year terms.
Sims Mayor Miranda Stamper filed for re-election Friday under her maiden name, Miranda Boykin.
Other seats open this election cycle include:
• Black Creek — Mayor; five town commissioner seats
• Elm City — Mayor; five town commissioner seats
• Lucama — Two town commissioner seats
• Saratoga — Mayor; three commissioner seats
• Sims — Mayor; two commissioner seats
• Stantonsburg — Mayor; two town council seats