Group of new candidates offer Forsyth voters some choices

by Keith Barber

Most incumbents appear to be running unopposed in this year’s election, but a handful of challengers have stepped forward in races relevant to Forsyth County voters. They include a former Air Force inspector general auditor, a former elementary school principal, a UNCG business professor and a retired sheriff’s office major.

Gardenia Mae Henley is a Democratic candidate running for the NC House District 72 seat currently held by Rep. Earline Parmon. Henley, a Winston-Salem native and Air Force veteran, served as campaign manager for Winston-Salem Mayor Pro Tem Vivian Burke’s re-election campaign last fall. Henley canvassed neighborhoods in the city’s Northeast Ward during the run up to Election Day, and said she decided to run because of level of dissatisfaction among the citizens of those neighborhoods.

“People were telling me things that needed to be done at the state level,” Henley, a former inspector general auditor with the US Diplomatic Corps, said.

“I wanted to do something very positive and support the people as well as I can. There is a need for adequate representation at the state level.”

Parmon is currently seeking her fifth term as a state representative. Parmon sponsored or co-sponsored 54 pieces of legislation during the 2009 legislative session, including a bill that would compensate eugenics sterilization survivors and the NC Racial Justice Act. Parmon is a former member of the US Army Reserves.

Henley said her background as an auditor and civil servant has prepared her to serve the people of District 72.

“I fought waste, abuse and fraud,” Henley said. “I’m known for saving the US government hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s what I know best, and I think we need this at the state level. We need to make sure our tax dollars are being spent responsibly and effectively. That’s what the people are asking for.”

If elected, Henley said she will focus her efforts on careful oversight of the disbursement of funds from the

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, especially as it relates to District 72.

Henley also cited improving schools, enhancing public safety, and support for persons with disabilities and veterans as key components of her campaign platform.

Building a more responsive state government is the key to restoring the public’s faith in our institutions, Henley said, as well as the cornerstone of her campaign.

“People have lost their faith in government,” she said. “People in this area don’t vote because they don’t think it’s going to help anybody. If you keep voting for the same representative, you’re going to get the same results.”

BEITLER MOUNTSUS SENATE CAMPAIGNMichael Beitler is a Libertarian candidaterunning for the US Senate seatcurrently held by Republican RichardBurr. On the Democratic side, MarcusW. Williams, Ken Lewis and CalCunningham have also filed to run forUS Senate. NC Secretary of State ElaineMarshall has announced her intentionto run but had not filed as of Mondayafternoon. Republican candidates EddieBurks and Brad Jones will challengeBurr for the Republican nomination inthe May 4 primary.Beitler, a professor in the BryanSchool of Business at UNCG, said thekey issues in the campaign will likelybe jobs and the economy. Beitler, a formerbanker, said he would propose thefederal government rely on independentauditors to prevent another catastrophelike the financial meltdown of 2008.“I don’t think we need more regulations; we need more competent regulators,”Beitler said.The Libertarian philosophy of governmentcould best be summed up as:“Government should be small enough tofit inside the Constitution,” Beitler said.Beitler said he objects to PresidentObama’s health care reform plan in theface of a $12.5 trillion national debt.“We have to take a really serious lookat an overextended federal government,”he said. “We should look at privatizingsome functions.”SHERRILL’S SCHOOL BOARDCAMPAIGN CENTERED ONEARLY EDUCATIONNancy Sherrill is one of two challengerswho have filed for one of threeat-large seats on the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board. StanfordR. Hill will also challenge incumbentsElisabeth Motsinger, Jeannie Metcalf,and Donny Lambeth in the at-largeschool board race. Last year, the NCGeneral Assembly passed a law makingschool board elections in Forsyth nonpartisan.A former principal at BrunsonElementary, Sherrill said she will focuson improving early childhood educationand reducing classroom sizes in theschool system.“I really believe we’ve got to focusmore on children when they are inelementary school,” Sherrill said. “Thereare volunteer programs and mentor programs,but there are not enough of thosepeople to go around.”Sherrill said she had mixed feelingsabout the No Child Left Behind federallegislation with regard to its effectiveness,adding the school board shouldexplore programs that help children performbetter on standardized tests.“No Child Left Behind, has forced usto look at children as individual groupsand individual students, but having allthat testing in place has affected childrenparticularly at the high school level,”Sherrill said. “They don’t think they cando the testing so they drop out. That’scritical because they have to finish highschool to have a chance at life after publiceducation.”Sherrill said parental involvementis another tool with which to combatthe dropout rate, and the school systemcould do a better job reaching out toparents. With regard to attracting andretaining the best teachers, Sherrill saidthe school board should offer additionalsupport for the mentor teacher program,which offers guidance to first-yearteachers. Sherrill, a 23-year veteranteacher and administrator, has experienceat the elementary, middle andhigh school levels. She said the schoolsystem faces an array of challenges inthe coming years, and if elected, shewould advocate a progressive, proactiveapproach as well as a simple philosophy.“As a board, we have to be interestedin the well-being for all children inForsyth County,” she said.CHALLENGER SAYS FORSYTHSHERIFF’S OFFICE NEED PRIDE,ACCESSIBILITYJerry Wayne Herron has filed asa Democratic candidate for ForsythCounty Sheriff. Incumbent BillSchatzman, a Republican, filed for reelectionlast week.Herron, who retired from the ForsythCounty Sheriff’s Office in 2005,described his platform as straightforward— restoring pride and accessibilityto the sheriff’s office.“I feel it’s time for a change,” Herron,a graduate of the FBI Academy, said.If elected, Herron said he would reinstitutethe position of chief dDeputy, toallow him more time to connect withcitizens and listen carefully to theirconcerns.“The biggest thing in my opinionis the partnership with the communityand accessibility to the citizens,” Herron said.

Seeking additional funding to add more school resource officers while adding manpower to the department’s domestic violence, gangs, and sex offenders units would also be a key component of Herron’s platform.

Herron said he would work closely with city officials in Winston-Salem and Kernersville to ensure the sheriff’s department got its fair share of federal economic stimulus funds designated for the area’s law enforcement agencies.

“The most important thing in this election is the citizens of Forsyth County,” Herron said. “It’s really what they want in a sheriff that’s going to make a difference.”