Watford earns top votes; Akins misses the cut
May 02. 2006 11:22PM
BY ROBERT COOPER
Voters have selected four Republican commissioner candidates — Sam
Watford, Billy Joe Kepley, Don Truell and Kenny Moore — to square off
against the Democrats in November, leaving behind one incumbent candidate
and several strong contenders.
In Tuesday’s primary election, Sam Watford led the pack with 3,592
votes (16 percent) with the other candidates following close behind.
Incumbent Cindy Akins came in fifth and won’t return to the board.
“I’d like to thank the people that voted for me,” Watford said Tuesday
night at the Davidson County Governmental Center after the results were
announced. “You always try to do the best you can for this county.”
Watford and Kepley embraced amid a crowd of family and supporters.
“I look forward to working with you,” Kepley quietly said to Watford.
Watford, 53, of Thomasville, is one of three incumbents who ran and will
continue on to the November election with fellow incumbent Truell. This is
Watford’s second run for office. He owns a construction company
specializing in underground utility construction.
Kepley nearly edged out his friend Watford, collecting the same percentage
of the vote at 16, and coming in just 75 votes fewer than the top
vote-getter with 3,517 votes. Despite his strong showing in the light
turnout, Kepley is cautious not to celebrate a November election yet.
“I’m not back yet,” he said, referencing his previous 14 years on the
board. “I’ve still got some good Democrat friends to compete against … but
you always feel good about a vote of confidence.”
Kepley served on the board from 1990 to 2004 but lost by five votes in
2004. If he makes it past the general election in November, this will be
his fifth term on the board of commissioners.
The 70-year-old Welcome resident works at his sawmill and hay farm and
does freelance photography work.
Both Watford and Kepley said they would take some time off before
gearing up for the November campaign season, which Kepley hopes will
yield a larger voter turnout. He called Tuesday’s turnout “a big
disappointment to everyone involved in the political process.”
Watford called Kepley “a mentor” in an interview last week, and Kepley
agreed that the two will see eye to eye on many issues if the two make it
to the board. There will be a new era of “proactivity on the board instead
of reactivity,” Kepley said.
Akins is the only incumbent who will not return to the board, missing the
cut by a little more than 200 votes. She left the county governmental
center immediately after the unofficial results were announced.
Akins went into the election as the longest-serving incumbent in the race,
seeking her third term, and came out with 13 percent of the voters on her
side (2,928 votes). The 42-year-old Pilot resident works in bookkeeping
and commercial and residential property rental and is a silent partner in
Asked for her reaction after the results, Akins sounded disappointed but
not overly emotional.
“We’ll start a new chapter in this book,” she said via telephone
interview. “I’ll finish my time on the board and move on.”
As for running again in the future, Akins said she needed more time to
make that decision.
“I can’t answer that right now; it’s a little too soon for that,” she
explained. “Naturally it’ll be in the back of my mind; maybe in a few
years we’ll see.”
Each primary winner has served at least one term as a commissioner, with
Moore’s term dating back 12 years.
Moore was able to nab the fourth spot, edging out Akins with 3,135 votes
or 14 percent of Republican and unaffiliated voters.
“I’m just elated, so gratified,” he said. “I was in (office) before; I had
a record to run on.”
Moore, 53, served from 1986-1994 and served as chairman his final two
years. The northeast Davidson resident works as a pharmaceutical salesman.
If elected in November, this will be his third term on the board.
Truell “slid” into his third-place slot among the eight candidates, he
said via telephone interview, saving most of his money and campaign
efforts for the November election. He received 3,396 votes, or 15 percent.
“I can’t say I’m surprised,” he said. “Everybody anticipates winning.”
The election results were “about what I expected,” he added. “People in
the county realize what I stand for, they realize I’m trustworthy, and
they realize I have their best interests in mind.”
In preparation for the general election, “it all comes down to the three
basic issues,” Truell said. Leading up to the election Truell had
campaigned on pushing job recruitment, school construction and holding the
tax rate down.
Truell, 68, was an incumbent candidate seeking his second term in office.
The Thomasville resident is a retired Thomasville police chief and former
Thomasville mayor and city councilman.
Larry Allen, a party insider, missed his first try at public office by 807
votes and said he would not run for commissioner again. He received 2,328
votes, or 10 percent.
“I want to thank my supporters. I’m surprised a lot of people came out to
support gay marriage, to support higher taxes,” he said, in reference to a
vote by Truell, Kepley and Watford opposing a resolution against same-sex
marriage. “I don’t know what more I could have done.”
Allen became a member of the county GOP Executive Committee 10 months ago.
The 45-year-old Lexington resident has also been a member of the state
executive committee for two years. He works as a classroom instructor for
Linda Dublin came in sixth place with 2,331 votes (10 percent) and did not
wait for results at the Davidson County Governmental Center as most other
candidates did. She took the loss in high spirits and said she would
continue to support the winning Republican candidates.
“I don’t have a problem with it. I figured if I didn’t win, the Lord had
something else planned for me,” she said via telephone interview.
After losing her first run at commissioner, she was unsure if she would
“Oh, that’s a long way down the road,” she said. “It’s been an awesome
trip for me. I don’t have any regrets.”
Dublin, 62, has been a registered Republican for more than 20 years and an
officer with the GOP Executive Committee for seven of the last eight
years, alternating between secretary and treasurer. The Lexington resident
owns and operates an insurance company with her husband, Don.
Eric Osborne hung his head after the unofficial totals came in but
admitted his inexperience could have been a hindrance on his chances for
success. Being a young college student running against older, more
experienced candidates was a daunting task. He received 1,245 votes, or 6
“I am disappointed, but what happens, happens,” he said. “I’m going to
take a little vacation, a trip to Rome, after that who knows.”
This was Osborne’s first run for public office. The 22-year-old
Thomasville resident is a student at Davidson County Community College and
participates in a work-study program.
Robert Cooper can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 235 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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