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Eight vie for 2 commission spots
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Forsyth County News
Qualifying for the July 20 primary wrapped up Friday with eight candidates vying for two seats on the Forsyth County commission.

Incumbent District 3 Commissioner Jim Harrell will face three challengers — Todd Levent, Josh Shorr and Mark Venco — in the Republican primary.

Harrell said Friday that debate is good, but noted it’s not so much about the challenge of a race.

“It’s running for office, meeting people and discussing the accomplishments of my first term,” he said.

It’s also about “listening to things they’re looking for in their commissioners in the next few years, and also sharing with them my thoughts on some of the key issues as we go into the next four years.”

A runoff election, if needed, would be held Aug. 10.

With Commission Chairman Charles Laughinghouse’s decision not to run again for his District 1 seat, Republicans Pete Amos, Michael Robinson, Brant Meadows and Democrat Mary Chatfield have stepped forward.

Amos ran for the seat during the 2006 election but lost to Laughinghouse, who garnered about 53 percent of the vote.

This year’s election, however, will be the first under the new district-only format. County commissioners and school board members were previously elected at large.

In 2006, Amos received nearly 61 percent of District 1 vote.

“I think it serves the county better to run districtwide. It’s a better representation per district,” he said, adding it wouldn’t change the way he runs his campaign.

“I’ve still got to talk to everybody, just on a smaller scale.”

Amos is a lifelong resident of Forsyth. He and his wife, Catherine, have one grown son, Slate.

Meadows resigned his seat on the county’s election board to qualify for the race.

A self-employed business owner, Meadows also serves on the county’s planning commission. He’s lived in Forsyth for about 18 years and is a native Georgian.

He and wife Michele have two young children.

“We’re the No. 2 most conservative county in the U.S. and I want us to be the No. 1 most conservative,” he said. “I think we’re going to have to consider less government and lower taxes.”

Robinson is a retired telecommunications professional who moved to Forsyth in 2001. His wife, Kathee, works for the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, which he said has had to make too many cutbacks.

“That kind of irritated me to the max, so I said if you can’t beat them, join them,” he said. “Some of my priorities would be to stop wasting money the way they’re wasting money.”

Chatfield, chairwoman of the Democratic Women of Forsyth County, decided it was time for a different perspective on the commission.

“There are a lot of things that are going on that I think it wouldn’t hurt to have a woman’s point of view out there,” she said.  

“I don’t think it should make a difference what party I’m in, because I’m a resident of Forsyth County and I care passionately about the issues that affect all of us.”

Chatfield will face whoever emerges from the primary in the Nov. 2 election.

Over in District 3, candidate Shorr announced his intent to run in January. He and wife Stacey have a 10-year-old daughter and another child on the way.

He has previously said his family was his inspiration to campaign.

Shorr said he has the ability to help manage growth, adding he wants to hear from taxpayers on their priorities.

“I think my background equips me with the skill set needed to improve the quality of life for Forsyth County residents,” he said when he announced in January.

Levent and wife Dana have two young children. He announced his candidacy earlier this month, saying “my heart is totally in this.”

“I’ve just watched things go in a progression that most of my neighbors and friends have grumbled about,” he said at the time. “I just want to serve taxpayers and do the right thing for them and their tax dollars.”

Mark Venco said he’s always considered running for office. The Long Island, N.Y., native wants to represent homeowners.

“It doesn’t seem like the commissioners are actually going back to their constituent base and actually giving justification,” he said. “They want to know how their tax dollars are spent.”

Venco and his wife, Lisa, have two young sons.