A sunny Friday saw three more file for the upcoming election, including incumbents on both the Clinton City Board of Education and the Sampson County Board of Commissioners, and a Democrat challenger for county sheriff.
Surrounded by family, friends, and co-workers, Randy Barefoot filed on Friday to run for his second term as a Clinton City School Board of Education member.
With parents Nathan and Sue Barefoot and in-laws Elliot “PeeWee” and Ann Spell standing behind him and with wife Lee Ann by his side, Barefoot signed on the dotted line, officially tossing his hat back into the ring for another four years.
“I enjoy working with the Clinton City Schools’ staff from the district level to the school level,” he shared of why he wanted to pursue a second term. “I also want to be supportive of our new superintendent and his staff as we get started on another four years; I want to be supportive of the good leadership he’s put into place. I really think we’re on the right road to making Clinton City Schools one of the best systems in the state, and I want to be a big part of that.”
As he looks forward, hoping to retain his seat at the school board table, Barefoot expressed his thanks for all those who supported him during his first filing and who continue to support him now.
“I’d like to thank all the Clinton City Schools system and staff and all my friends who have been so supportive. I really appreciate all the phone calls and comments that have been made because I am a public servant and I’m here to try and get what they want done or at least get answers to their questions,” he said.
“I also really want to thank my wife for putting up with the long meetings and the times when I’m not at home,” Barefoot added, praising her for “handling all the things at home” when he has to be away. “She’s a big supporter of me running.”
In addition to serving on the city school board, Barefoot, a 1991 graduate of Clinton High School, works at Prestage Farms, serving as the director of Land and Nutrient Management.
County commissioner Albert Kirby filed next on Friday, announcing his intention to seek a second term in office as his mother Lu Ellen looked on. Kirby, elected to the board in 2010, said he wished to continue being the voice for the people of District 5 and the county as a whole.
Kirby will face fellow Democrat and challenger Eugene Pearsall in a May 6 primary.
“I would like to continue the fight for the people of District 5 and Sampson County,” Kirby said after filing. “I promised the citizens of District 5 before I filed four years ago … that I would like to be a strong voice for them. I promised them that I would stand up for what is right, just and proper.”
Many of those citizens, he attested, had seen their taxes go up steadily in recent years. Kirby said he has done all he can to prevent any more hikes, speaking out against waste.
“Waste in local government is one of the things that causes taxes to go up,” Kirby said. “It’s tough to look people in the face and say we’re going to raise your taxes when there are things you can do to prevent it. I’ve tried my best to forcibly speak out against that. I’ve tried to protect the taxpayers and be fair to all the citizens, specifically the people of District 5. Those are the things I will continue to do.”
A Clinton High School alum, Kirby attended Wake Forest University on a full athletic scholarship, graduating in 1980 before going on to graduate from Campbell University School of Law. He would serve as an assistant District Attorney in Fayetteville and later in Greenville, where he became an adjunct professor — then full-time associate professor — of Criminal Justice at East Carolina University.
A longtime practicing attorney at Kirby Law Firm in downtown Clinton, Kirby is past president of the Sampson County Bar, as well as a member of the North Carolina Bar Association and the North Carolina Black Lawyers Association.
His role as county commissioner is one that Kirby has taken seriously and wants to continue to see through during a second term. He said there is unfinished county business.
“As a matter of fact, in many ways it’s just begun,” the District 5 representative noted. “It takes a good while for people to change habits. It seemed that, from my humble opinion, we had been in this vicious cycle of spending more and increasing taxes just a little bit over and over again. I know you can’t do without taxes, but when there’s waste that forces (hikes).”
Kirby said Sampson salaries are not comparable to other counties and he is seeking to ensure that employee pay does improve — in a way that promotes efficiency, cuts waste and keeps the county coffers and all citizens in mind.
“My plan in the next four years is working to eliminate some things,. There are still some waste areas that we need to work on, while at the same time creating revenue.” Kirby said, pointing to the county’s new water wells and a couple large industries on the horizon. “That’s something that is vital.”
Also Friday, Democrat Freddie Butler, with wife Lynn by his side and many family, friends and supporters behind him, made his intent to run for Sampson County Sheriff official. He initially announced his intent to run to the Sampson Independent at the end of January.
Butler does not yet have competition for the Democrat nomination for sheriff, although it is expected that Democrat David Kidd will file in the near future. Kidd ran unsuccessfully in 2010 against Republican Sheriff Jimmy Thornton, who is anticipated to file soon for his fourth term.
Butler said he has a lifelong love and appreciation for law enforcement, cultivated as the son of former Sheriff Graham Butler and as a law enforcement officer himself for three decades.
“I have been dedicated and committed to a life of law enforcement,” Butler has told the SI, “and now wish to continue that commitment here in the county in which I was born and raised.”
Butler began his law enforcement career in 1983 as a uniformed Division of Motor Vehicles process officer and ascended through the ranks over the course of a career that spanned 30 years. Among other top positions within the DMV, in the years leading up to his 2012 retirement Butler served as deputy director over all personnel and field operations.
A Clinton High graduate, Butler was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2012. Butler, the son of the late Graham and Dorothy Ayleen Tart Butler, is a member of First Baptist Church in Clinton, where he has also served as a deacon.
He attended Sampson Community College, studying criminal justice and has received hundreds of hours of specialized training over the years relating to criminal investigations. In April 1994, he earned a Basic and Intermediate Law Enforcement certificate and in August 2005, he earned an Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate.
While he was approached by many people leading up to the 2010 sheriff’s election to see if he would run, Butler said he wanted to complete his state career. Now, he said, he is shifting his sights to hometown Sampson.
“I feel it is my obligation to serve and protect so the citizens of this county may enjoy a better quality of life,” Butler has said. “I want to help others, and I feel like I can do this county a lot of good.”
Filing will continue until noon Friday, Feb. 28. Check clintonnc.com and upcoming issues of the Sampson Independent for filings as they occur.