LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Democratic Women heard from four candidates on Friday who will be competing in next month’s Democratic primary elections.
Both candidates for the office of clerk of Superior Court, Scott Sellers and incumbent Philip McRae, are Democrats.
“This job is challenging, it fits my nature, it’s very fulfilling for me,” said McRae, who was appointed to the position in 2007 by Superior Court Judge Richard Brown. “Competent and courteous service is our constant goal… . I know that I have to earn your confidence and trust every single day.”
Having practiced law privately in Laurinburg for 26 years before his appointment as clerk of court, McRae testified to the accuracy demanded by the office he currently holds.
“You think about it, you’re sitting there at a computer entering data and somebody sneezes and you get distracted, six months later somebody going through a license check can get arrested because we hit the wrong key,” he said.
In response to a query from one of the 30 people present, McRae said that the most difficult tasks involved with the position include competency hearings as well as foreclosures. In North Carolina the clerk of court also serves as the probate judge.
McRae’s opponent, Scott Sellers, is also a county native, and works as an investigator with the public defender’s office serving Scotland and Hoke counties. He formerly worked as a probation and parole officer.
Sellers said that he is running for clerk of court in order to give voters a choice, as well as to potentially take his career in a new direction.
“Elections make everybody more accountable to the offices that they hold, and after speaking with my family, my friends, and people associated within our courthouse community about my career goals, I received encouragement from those people and decided to face new challenges,” he said.
Also presenting a platform to the Democratic women’s group on Friday were Rodney Tucker, who is challenging Shep Jones for the office of sheriff, and Democratic Women president Betty Blue Gholston, a candidate for the Scotland County Board of Commissioners.
Tucker currently works as a captain with the Criminal Investigation Division of the Hamlet Police Department. He began his career in law enforcement with the Scotland County Sheriff’s Office, working as a jailer, transportation officer, deputy, and finally detective.
“Law enforcement is the only job that I have ever had that I look forward to getting up in the morning and going to work, and before I got married and had kids there were a lot of times I didn’t care when I got home,” said Tucker. “I just love my job and I love serving the folks that I work for.”
If elected, Tucker promised that accountability and fiscal responsibility will be hallmarks of his office. Among his goals are incorporating animal control into the sheriff’s office, organizing community watch programs, and more extensive training for school resource officers.
“To be a good leader, you have to see where you have failed and not just where you have succeeded,” he said. “It’s easy to say we have succeeded here and we’ve done this there, but you have to look at yourself first as a leader and say this is where I have failed and what can we do to make it better.”
Tucker will face off against Jones in next month’s primary. The victor will then run against Republican candidate Ralph Kersey in November.
Gholston will seek to reprise her role on the Scotland County Board of Commissioners, having represented the Spring Hill Township from 2003-2010. A retired educator, she has also served on the Scotland County Board of Education and Wagram Town Council.
“I really am proud of the record that I had when I was on the board of commissioners, as well as the school board and the town of Wagram,” she said. “I have considered myself, and others considered me, a voice for the people.”
Gholston said that she would like to see the county change its focus from recruiting heavy industries that employ few people relative to their size to encouraging small business growth.
Gholston will run against Linda Tindall and Ronnie Nicholson, both of whom addressed the Democratic Women last month, to represent the Spring Hill Township on the board of commissioners.
The Democratic Women are expected to meet once again before the May primary, on April 25, when all 10 candidates for the Scotland County Board of Education will be invited to speak.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-276-2311, ext. 17. Follow her on Twitter @emkaylbg.