FORSYTH COUNTY -- With three county commission seats on this year’s ballot, it has been a busy elections year in Forsyth County. But one race has looked different than the rest.
District 4 Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills successfully faced a challenge, and three candidates registered for the District 5 race, but Rick Swope was the only candidate to qualify for south Forsyth’s District 2 seat. He is presumably the district’s next commissioner.
As for being the only candidate to qualify, Swope said his faith keeps him from being too surprised.
“My gut reaction would be to say, ‘Yes, it shocked me,’ but here’s one thing you’re going to learn about me: I’m a man of faith, and I don’t shy away from that,” he said. “We were praying for affirmation in that way. I believe like many of our forefathers … that God directs the affairs of government as well as man.
“If you believe that, then if there is a door that needs to be opened, He’ll open it, if not, He’ll close it.”
Barbara Luth, supervisor of voter registrations and elections, said it is rare, though not unheard of, for a non-incumbent candidate to run unopposed.
A write-in candidate could possibly get in the race, but that seems unlikely.
“At this time we do not see anybody going against Rick Swope,” Luth said. “There is a write-in capability, but we haven’t even had anybody go against him as a write-in. There was one interested in going, but from an email I got, he has abandoned his campaign for that district.”
She said the district has more than 28,000 registered voters.
The seat has long been held by Commissioner Brian Tam, who decided to not seek re-election. He was first elected in 2004.
Swope has lived in Forsyth County for 17 years and is co-founder of Pro Market Advisors — an education, training and consulting firm.
Recently, he has been working to get ahead at his new position by meeting with county officials to learn some of the ins and outs.
“Last week, I had the opportunity to spend the day literally going around from department to department meeting everybody from Fire Chief [Danny] Bowman through the county manager to department directors and heads,” Swope said. “Part of that involved meeting with folks, talking with them and just getting the first level of understanding for how everything fits together and what people do.”
Once in office, Swope said he wants to take a hard look at economic development and said he thinks the county could be an economic hotbed.
“I think we have some tremendous opportunities for making Forsyth County a destination for business of all varieties,” he said. “I think we could have international headquarters here. I think we could have light industrial. I think we could have entrepreneurial business.”
Until then, Swope said he will continue talking to residents and officials to prepare to represent the district. He said he has noticed one thing while talking to members of the community.
“I think the thing that is becoming most clear to me in the process is that we can’t over-communicate,” he said. “Much of what I see of as conflict has so much of its roots in lack of communication.”