Filing for the 2018 general election began Monday, with a crowd of candidates and supporters spilling out the door at the Sampson Board of Elections leading up to the noon kickoff.
When it was done, seven candidates had signed on the dotted line in various races (see related story on 1A), with many others slated to file in the days that followed. Among them, two people who received appointments to their posts — Clerk of Court and District 5 county commissioner — are seeking to fill them permanently, while another filed in the wide-open Clerk of Court race.
The first to file Monday was the Rev. Thaddeus Godwin, who filed for the District 5 Board of Commissioners seat vacated last month by Albert Kirby upon his appointment as Senior Resident Superior Court Judge for Sampson County. Kirby held the seat for the past seven years and Godwin is expected to be appointed Wednesday to fill Kirby’s unexpired term after being selected from a list of five candidates by the local Democratic Party.
Although he has yet to serve his first day as commissioner, Godwin wants to continue to serve past November and announced his intent to do so.
“I want to see some things get better in the Clinton, Faison and surrounding area and I want to be a part of making it better,” Godwin said Monday.
A Clinton native and 1973 Clinton High graduate, Godwin went to York College of Pennsylvania to study criminology following high school. He worked at Alcoa and M&M/Mars, while also serving the Lord and his country. He was a member of the Air National Guard for more than 20 years, starting in 1984 and extending until 2006.
He attended Lancaster Bible College and, through the years, has served in various ministerial capacities. He was deacon and educational minister at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Lancaster, Pa., and pastor at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in York, Pa., for 15 years. For four years, he served as moderator for the Central Baptist Association of Pennsylvania, responsible for overseeing 30 churches.
Last year, after decades in Pennsylvania, he was called back home. He is now the pastor at Lisbon Street Missionary Baptist, where he first found God, was baptized and married his wife Eloise some four decades ago in 1977.
“When Lisbon Street Missionary Baptist Church was out a pastor, they called and it was great. I was so grateful to be coming home to the church I was baptized and I was married in,” Godwin stated. “Even though I didn’t live here, I would always come back to visit friends and relatives. Clinton never got out of my blood.”
He believes his military experience in logistics, as well as his traits as a minister strike a balance that would benefit the commissioners. Godwin said he brings budgeting and managerial knowledge along with the ability to listen and work as a team toward a common goal.
“I like bringing people together and I know how to be diplomatic,” he said. “It doesn’t always mean I get my way, but I know how to listen and be diplomatic whatever the case may be. I loved working with people. One of my main things is teamwork, and I look forward to working as a team with the other commissioners.”
Godwin and wife Eloise have two children, Thaddeus Godwin Jr. and Latasha Godwin Johnson, and seven grandchildren.
Godwin is expected to be installed as District 5 commissioner at the start of Wednesday’s Board of Commissioners planning session.
Clerk of Court candidates
Poised to be the most crowded local race will be the one for Clerk of Superior Court. Two hopefuls filed Monday to seek the post, including Republican appointee Dwight Williams Jr. and Clerk of Court employee Tammy Grady, a Democrat.
Norman Wayne Naylor served as Clerk of Court since 2002, running unopposed for years. He stepped down at the end of 2017, cutting short his fourth term by 11 months. Judge Kirby held interviews with seven Republican and Democrat hopefuls in the wake of Naylor’s departure and ultimately appointed Williams to fill Naylor’s unexpired term.
“I understand fully that this is an interim position and it will be a test period. There is an election in November. I hope in the next 10 months I can earn your support as Clerk of Court,” said Williams upon taking the oath last month. “I pledge to earn your trust, I pledge to learn as much as I can from those ladies and gentlemen (clerk staff) and I pledge to work hard for you.”
A presence in the Sampson County Republican Party for years, Vann Crossroads native Williams served as a precinct chairman, precinct judge, county treasurer, county vice-chairman and ultimately as local party chairman, a position he held for more than five years. Williams also served for a short time on the three-member Sampson County Board of Elections.
Williams worked for 27 years with the N.C. Farm Bureau Insurance and American Farm Bureau Insurance Services in their Crop Insurance Divisions, serving in various managerial capacities until his retirement at the end of 2014. In January 2015, Williams began serving as district director for U.S. Congressman David Rouzer in North Carolina’s 7th Congressional District, resigning that post upon his clerk appointment.
Williams and wife Debbie have two sons, two daughters and four grandchildren between them.
Grady filed late in the afternoon for the Clerk of Court post. A deputy clerk at the Sampson County Clerk of Superior Court’s Office, Grady was surrounded by family, friends and supporters, including sheriff hopeful Freddie Butler. She will be featured later this week and at clintonnc.com.
The filing period will extend to noon Wednesday, Feb. 28. One-stop voting will extend for weeks in April and early May leading up to the May 8 primary.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.