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Deloatch, Sumner vie for Commissioner’s seat

CONWAY – Two people vying to replace retiring Northampton County Commissioner James C. Boone were part of a candidate forum in the Ashley’s Grove community near here last week.

Democratic nominee Chester J. Deloatch Sr. and Republican challenger Rose Sumner were both on hand to talk about what type of commissioner they would be if elected from the third district.

By virtue of having her name drawn first, Sumner was the first to speak to the audience. She stressed her years of experience and laid out a platform of issues she would address if elected.

“I have 30 years in county government, 25 of which I served as Clerk to the Board,” Sumner told the audience.

She said she served with 18 different county commissioners and six county managers, adding that she helped train three of the county managers.

She said she was in charge of three budgets and had a working knowledge of the county budget and financial statements.

“In my opinion, a very important part of being a county commissioner is understanding the budget and financial issues,” she said.

Sumner said her election platform included economic development, education, lowering county Medicaid costs, lowering taxes, drug eradication and a safe work environment.

She stressed her belief that the county commissioners should work more closely with the Northampton County Board of Education, saying the boards should come together for more than financial concerns.

She outlined the fact that North Carolina remains the only state that requires counties to pay Medicaid expenses. She said representatives should be asked to work harder to eliminate that burden.

Sumner said one of the things she would like to see if elected was moving one of the meetings of the county commissioners to a night meeting so citizens could attend and watch the board in action.

“Throughout all my years in county government, I treated people equally,” she said. “I will do the same when elected. I will have an open-door policy.”

During the question period, Sumner was asked if she would support an end to the county’s districting system.

She said while each commissioner was elected from a district, the five all represented the entire county and that was the way the board should operate.

During his moments before the group, Deloatch said his desire was to be use his strengths on the board.

“I want to be the common sense candidate for commissioner,” he said. “I am a tax payer. I worked hard. You can beat poverty because I beat poverty.”

Deloatch said he was certified as a member of boards he served on, including Roanoke Electric.

He said he retired from the United Parcel Service after 25 years of service.

“Since then, I’ve done mostly what I wanted to do,” he laughed.

Deloatch said his modus operandi would be different than others.

“I want to be a common sense commissioner,” he said. “I’ll be quiet at meetings and listen, but when people leave I want them to say that I voted for what was in the best interest of citizens.”

A citizen asked Deloatch what experience he had in budgeting processes and community service.

The candidate said he managed his own budget well and that he knew how to do what would be required of him.

“I am debt-free as a person,” he said. “I know how to handle money.”

As for community service, Deloatch said the many hours he spent working prohibited free time, but he was ready to serve the citizens.

Deloatch and Sumner are the two candidates seeking the post of Northampton County Commissioner in District Three. The election is November 7.