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Wake Forest mayor, town board candidates gearing up for fall campaign.
by David Leone
WAKE FOREST — “It’s close to campaign time. I won’t start knocking on doors until after Labor Day,” Mayor Vivian Jones promises on her re-election Facebook page. But the creation of the webpage and a note that people can order lawn signs is evidence enough that politicking season has begun.
Jones isn’t the only candidate to begin election warm-up exercises.
Commissioner Margaret Stinnett has dusted off her re-election Facebook page from four years ago. In the info section she touts accomplishments — streets and the streetscape project are prominently mentioned — and lists background information.
She recently took her four-year-old campaign signs out from storage and realized she needs some new ones as well.
Stinnett faces three challengers for two town board seats. Two-term Commissioner Frank Drake did not re-file.
The two incumbents are still in office and so get plenty of airtime during meetings and events, but their challengers have begun appearing in public as well.
Commissioner candidate Mike Cole has attended a number of town and planning board meetings since he filed for office; he watches even more on community cable channel 10.
And Jim Thompson, also a candidate for town commissioner, has been spotted sporting a campaign button at the Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours aloha social and at Sunday’s Wake Forest Woman’s Club fundraiser at Brooks Street Bowl. Jones and Stinnett were also at the Bowl-a-thon, bowling with a town of Wake Forest team.
Jones’ sole challenger, Bill Randall, attended the Purple Heart Dinner earlier this month. Randall is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, having achieved the rank of Command Master Chief, so he doesn’t consider it politicking; he’s been to every dinner since 2009.
Also a veteran of election campaigns (he’s made two bids for the U.S. House), Randall has had his Facebook page going since early July. His sleeker campaign website features family photos, a list of priorities and a countdown-to-the-election clock showing — as of this writing — 69 days, 3 hours, 51 minutes, 14 seconds to go.
Shinica Thomas has followed Randall’s route, creating both a Facebook page, a very green-looking campaign website with a donate-online button and a Twitter account to inform voters of her positions. Besides solicitations for donations and volunteers, the page has video testimonials from friends and colleagues.
Thompson created an open group on Facebook, where he reveals he’s ordered yard signs and is accepting campaign contributions. “In order to win this year, I have to raise at least $5,000 for a successful campaign,” he states on the page. He’s also been meeting with business and community leaders to take a pulse of the issues they consider important.
Cole created a campaign Facebook page, but has yet to add any solicitations or background information. He’s met with friends and neighbors to ask about issues, but won’t start serious campaigning until September.
Both Thomas and Thompson promote Wake Forest parks and recreation opportunities on their pages; they serve together on the town’s recreation advisory board.
Like Cole, Thomas has attended some town board meetings. She has yet to begin canvassing, but has secured the help of several volunteers.
She’s not the only one: Cole has a friend helping him build a static website, Stinnett has die-hard friends who have helped canvass and work the polls in the past, as does Jones. Thompson has a campaign manager, and Randall has secured an events coordinator, volunteer coordinator, campaign manager, strategist, press secretary and treasurer, some who worked on his congressional campaign.
“I’ve got some great people that are supportive,” said Randall.
Thomas, who initially could not be reached by The Wake Forest Weekly following her campaign filing, responded later with background information requested by the newspaper. Thomas, 39, lives at 2341 Rainy Lake Street in Stonegate. She is married to Raymond Thomas, has two teenage sons and works as a consultant in human resources and project management, including for Wake Tech.
Thomas has worked political campaigns before, performing tasks from canvassing to speech editing, and is a certified N.C. campaign treasurer. She sees herself as a strong advocate for youth and women.
“I want to help make the future Wake Forest a place of professional opportunities, economic growth and lots of entertainment options,” she said.
The town board election is Nov. 5.
Candidates are embargoed from displaying campaign signs in the right-of-way until October, but yard signs may go up before then. The Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce will hold a Q&A for town commissioners and school board candidates Sept. 10 and another on Oct. 10 for the town mayoral race. Both will be held at town hall and broadcast on cable channel 10.
In the coming months, The Wake Forest Weekly will both feature more in-depth articles about the candidates and, closer to Election Day, pose questions to them as well, with the answers printed in a special election issue in October.
Candidates and their supporters may use the newspaper’s letters to the editor section to spread their message and discuss or expand on issues until two weeks prior to the election.
Though candidates’ campaigns are still cranking up, all have at least one website or Facebook page. (One doesn’t have to be a member of Facebook to visit the pages.)
Vivian Jones: facebook.com/jones4mayor
Bill Randall: randallformayor.com
Mike Cole: facebook.com/ElectMikeCole
Shinica Thomas: vote4shinica.com
Jim Thompson: tiny.cc/candidatejimt*
Margaret Stinnett: tiny.cc/candidatemargs*
(*tiny URLs substituted for longer addresses)