Nine candidates file for Scotland offices on first day

By: Katelin Gandee - Staff reporter
Katelin Gandee | Laurinburg Exchange Garland E. Pierce was the first person Monday morning to file with the Board of Elections. Pierce is running for the NC House of Representatives 48th District.
Jacob E. Pate
Phillip McRae
Betty Blue Gholston

LAURINBURG- Candidates for sheriff, county commissioner and school board were among the nine people to announce for local offices on Monday, the first day of the filing.

The 15-day period for the May 8 primary ends Feb. 28 at noon. Those wishing to file of one of the open seats can do so weekdays between 8:30 and 5 p.m. at the Scotland Board of Elections office


Incumbent Ralph Kersey and challenger John Martin have filed for Scotland County sheriff.

Kersey was first elected in 2014.

“As sheriff of Scotland County, I will be the person who will oversee the Research Partnership or Research Team if the requested grant is awarded,” Kersey said in a statement.

Kersey served in the United States Marine Corps from 1979-1983 before joining the North Carolina Highway Patrol, where he retired in 2011.

He holds certificates in Basic Law Enforcement Training, Certificate, Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate, Field Training Officer, Firearms, Accident Reconstructionist, Federal Motor Carrier Inspector, Crisis Management, Search and Seizure, Deviant Behavior, Criminal Investigation, Basic Anti-Terrorism Awareness, Juvenile Minority, Riot Control, Interview Interrogation, Drug School, and Hazardous Materials.

He is a graduate of Scotland High School and attended the University of North Florida.

He has been awarded the Officer of the Year by Gastonia Jaycees; and Order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Challenger Martin said he is running for sheriff to bring consist professional leadership and modern ideas to the office.

“We will be tough on the bad, and work hard for the good,” Martin said. “Our plan demands that we work extremely hard on the drug problem, especially the opioid epidemic. I look forward to serving as your next sheriff.”

Martin began his career in public service more than 35 years ago and retired as a Master Trooper with the North Carolina Highway Patrol.

He and his wife Tracy have two sons, Jake and Grey. They are members of First United Methodist Church in Laurinburg.

County board

Incumbent Betty Blue Gholston and challenger Bo Frizzell filed for the Spring Hill seat on the Scotland County Board of Commissioners.

Gholston has served three terms on the county board, 12 years on the Board of Education, and 12 years with Wagram town board.

“Having served as commissioner for years gives me the experience, insight, and knowledge needed to serve effectively,” said Gholston. “The past few years have been both challenging and rewarding. Despite these issues, the board of commissioners have made strives toward making the county a better place to live. There is much left to be done, but I am ready again to meet the challenge.”

Gholston has a degree in commerce from North Carolina Central University and a masters in education administration from Agricultural and Technical State University.

She has worked for Cameron Morrison School for delinquent youth, Morrison Youth Center, Scotland County, Richmond County, Hoke County, and Marlboro Schools.

She named Teacher of the Year Youth Services Award in 1979 and was a nominee for NC Woman of the Year in 1982.

She has served as president of Scotland County Democratic Women and is a member of the NC Democratic Board.

She is a member of Spring Branch Missionary Baptist Church in Wagram where she is a Sunday school teacher.

Frizzell did not provide any information to the the newspaper on himself or his campaign.

School board

Jacob E. Pate filed for one of the two at-large school board seats.

Pate is 20 years old, but will turn 21 in March, the minimum age to serve on the board.

“In 2018, it’s time for a change,” Pate said. “My topics are stopping bullying, teacher pay raise, and safer schools. Also, I’m against the school consolidation, which is a waste of taxpayer money and will cause multiple problems with traffic and much more. On election day, lets take back out county.”

Pate graduated with his GED from RCC in 2015.

Pate is currently unemployed but said he has worked and volunteered with Scotland County Habitat for Humanity, the The Scotland County Chapter of the American Red Cross and Scotland Memorial Hospital.

He is a member of both Peace Holiness Church and River of Life Ministries.

State Senate

Helen Probst Mills, a Democrat, filed her candidacy on Monday in Moore County for the District 25 Senate seat.

District 25 comprises Moore, Richmond, Scotland and Anson counties — or should, once all the legal wrangling over redistricting is out of the way.

Mills grew up a daughter to a single mother and is, herself, a mother of three and cancer survivor who moved to North Carolina with her husband, Stuart, in 2006. She is also licensed to practice law in Illinois.

Last year, she was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to the Sandhills Community College Board of Trustees. She also serves on the college’s Foundation Board, where she helped develop a program allowing high school graduates to attend for two years without having to pay tuition.

Mills also serves as development chair for the Northern Moore Family Resource Center in Robbins, which has opened preschool and is developing a community center, according to a press release.

“Politicians today continue to under fund our schools and force our teachers to do more with far less,” she said in a statement. “Ever since I was a child, my mother instilled in me the importance of a good education and helping others.I received a good education from public schools and I want the same — early childhood pre-K3, strong public schools, affordable college and vocational education and good jobs — for everyone across North Carolina.”

District 25 incumbent state Sen. Tom McInnis also filed for reelection in Richmond County. McInnis, a Republican is vying for his third term. he did not provide the newspaper with any information.

State House

Garland E. Pierce has filed to run for re-election to the House of Representatives for the 48th District.

Pierce, a Wagram Democrat, has served for seven terms.

“I am still committed to the following, increasing the quality of affordable healthcare, insuring equal and quality education for all citizens, and developing economic opportunities for all citizens,” said Pierce. “I pledge to work for and with all citizens to be “their voice in the North Carolina State House of Representatives”.

Pierce received a degree in early childhood education from Fayetteville State University and a masters in divinity from Shaw University.

He has received the following awards; NC Governor’s Award for Outstanding Community Service; NC Justice Legislator Defender of Justice Award; Eckerd’s Kids Award for Service; Regional Community Health Award from Southeastern Regional Medical Hospital;Scotland Democratic Party Leadership Award; and NC Sheriff’s Association 2017 Defender of Public Safety.

Pierce is a member of the Laurinburg Rotary Club, VFW Post 181, Raeford-Hoke Centennial Lions Club, and Scotland Country Ministerial Alliance.

He has been a pastor for the past 27 years at Bright Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church.

Clerk of court

Phillip McRae also filed for re-election as the Scotland County Clerk of Court. McRae ran unopposed for his position in the 2014 elections.

“I’m excited to have a chance to continue serving our residents,” said McRae. “It’s a challenging and satisfying job which lets me use my education and experience daily. It fits my temperament well and I hope the people of Scotland County will see fit to keep me as their clerk of court.”

McRae was appointed by Judge Richard Brown to replace Whit Gibson in November 2007. he was elected to finish the unexpired term in 2008. He won re-election in both 2010 and 2014.

The Scotland County native graduated from Scotland High School in 1972 and got his bachelors of art in history from Pembroke State University in 1977, then got his law at North Carolina Central University School of Law in 1981.

He was a self-employed attorney for 26 years.

McRae servers on a number of civic boards, including the Scotland County Historic Properties Commission, Laurinburg Kiwanis Club, Scotland County Genealogical Society, Scotland County Highland Games Organization, and Richmond Temperance and Literary Society. He also served with Scotland County Youth Soccer Association, Laurinburg Optimist Club, and the Travel and Tourism Development Association.

He has been a lifelong member of Old Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church.

Katelin Gandee | Laurinburg Exchange Garland E. Pierce was the first person Monday morning to file with the Board of Elections. Pierce is running for the NC House of Representatives 48th District. Gandee | Laurinburg Exchange Garland E. Pierce was the first person Monday morning to file with the Board of Elections. Pierce is running for the NC House of Representatives 48th District.

Jacob E. Pate E. Pate

Phillip McRae McRae

Betty Blue Gholston Blue Gholston

Helen Probst Mills Probst Mills

Katelin Gandee

Staff reporter

Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-276-2311

Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-276-2311