18 Seek County Commissioner Seats

SNOW HILL – Eighteen
candidates filed to compete for the seven Worcester County Commissioner seats
by the July 6 deadline.

The most competition has
appeared in District 1, with five candidates emerging to contest for
Commissioner Bobby Cowger’s seat.

Democrat Jimmy
Schoolfield is ensured of competing in the general election, but the other four
District 1 candidates must jockey with each other in the September primary for
the Republican nomination.

Republicans Jerre
Clauss, Merill W. Lockfaw, Jr., Bill McDermott and Larry Ward will fight for
the party nomination.

In District 2, incumbent
Commissioner Jim Purnell will face Ed Lee in the September primary election for
the Democratic nomination. At this point, there is no Republican candidate in
District 2.

Currently, Republican
Commissioner Bud Church is unchallenged in District 3.

Longtime District 4
Commissioner Virgil Shockley, a Democrat, will face fellow Democrat Tommy
Tucker in the September primary. The winner of that contest will go on to face
Republican Ted Elder, who lost to Shockley in 2006, taking 38 percent of the

In 2006, District 5
Commissioner Judy Boggs ran unopposed, but in 2010, she must surpass Republican
challenger Bob Thompson in the primary. The victor will go on to face Democrat
John Bodnar.

In District 6,
Commissioner Linda Busick will face fellow Republican Jim Bunting in the
September primary.

District 7 Commissioner
Louise Gulyas, a Republican, nearly ran unopposed for re-election, until her
2006 opponent, Democrat Ellie Diegelmann, filed at the last minute. In 2006,
Gulyas defeated Diegelmann with 65 percent of the vote.      

The surprise of the
election season so far is the numerous candidates for the District 1 commissioner

“People tend to think
incumbents have a little bit of an edge and it seems when an incumbent steps
out more people file for that office,” said Elections Board Supervisor Patti

In 2006, when then
District 1 Commissioner Sonny Bloxom decided not to run for re-election to his
commissioner seat to run for state office, three contenders emerged for the
District 1 seat.

“Everyone has their own
idea about government,” said District 1 candidate Ward, when asked why so many
candidates chose to run for the seat.

Another change from 2006
is the District 5 race. Four years ago, Boggs ran unopposed. Now she faces two
opponents, and almost faced three, but early filer Ray Unger withdrew his

“I assume other people
have an interest in being county commissioner, and that’s democracy,” Boggs

Bodnar said he decided
to run because of his concerns about jobs in the county, not because he has
anything against Boggs.

“I’ve always wanted to
run for that seat,” Bodnar said, who added the time was not right for him
personally in previous elections.

While many thought
Diegelmann would once again run against Gulyas, her decision to hold off on
committing until the last minute had some thinking Gulyas would run unopposed.

“I just figured that
someone would file. Why should I have a free ride?” Gulyas said after the late
filing. “I thought from the beginning that she would file.”

Diegelmann was the last
candidate in Worcester County to file, said Jackson.

“I waited ‘til the very
last minute literally because I was hoping someone else would file,” Diegelman
said. “I wanted to encourage other people to file.”

Diegelmann said she is a
“hopeful optimist” and thought she had a chance to unseat Gulyas, saying that a
lot of things change in four years.