Left to right: Summerfield Town Council candidates Rich Lipinski and John O’Day (Jane Wilson not pictured); Stokesdale Town Council candidates Vicki White-Lawrence and Eric Lowe; (Summerfield Town Council mayoral candidate Dwayne Crawford not pictured).
Patti Stokes and Mike Shaw
NW GUILFORD COUNTY - When the candidate filing deadline closed at noon on July 19, seventeen local citizens had filed for town council seats in Oak Ridge, Stokesdale and Summerfield, though one has since withdrawn his name.
In Oak Ridge, Jim Kinneman, Danny Yanusz and Mike Stone will vie for two open council seats (Kinneman and Stone were featured in our July 12-18 issue and Yanusz was featured in our July 19-25 issue). The two council members elected in November will join council members Ray Combs, Spencer Sullivan and George McClellan, who each has two remaining years to serve in their four-year term.
The mayor in Oak Ridge is elected every two years by fellow council members.
Joining Tim Sessoms (featured in our July 12-18 issue) in the Summerfield mayoral race is former councilman Dwayne Crawford, who filed for office just before the deadline on July 19.
Crawford did not provide personal or professional information to include in this issue.
Bill North also filed for Summerfield mayor on July 19, but dropped out of the race five days later, saying he had re-evaluated the time commitment needed to serve the community well in the mayor's role and felt it would take more time from his business and personal life than he could presently give.
Jane Wilson, Rich Lipinski and John O'Day have joined candidates Cheri Pikett (featured in our July 12-18 issue), and Dianne Laughin and Mike Adams (both featured in our July 19-25 issue) in the race for two open seats on the Summerfield Town Council.
Wilson did not provide personal or professional information to include in this issue.
Rich Lipinski, 68, retired as vice president of VF Corporation. Through his work with VF Corporation, Lipinski traveled extensively outside of the United States.
Lipinski has two daughters. Laura, 24, is in her final year of law school in Boston and Molly, 21, is a rising senior at Appalachian State University studying environmental science. Both daughters attended Summerfield Elementary, Kernodle Middle and Northwest High schools.
Lipinski attended the United States Naval Academy and served in the U.S. Naval Reserve from 1963 to 1969. He earned a bachelor's degree from Dickinson College in 1967, a doctorate degree from Dickinson School of Law in 1970 and an MBA degree from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Finance and Commerce (Wharton) in 1972. In 1986, he earned a Master of Laws degree in taxation from the University of San Diego School of Law.
As a councilman, Lipinski said he would open better communication between the town and residents, increase volunteerism and make certain all residents are treated equally and fairly. He would also evaluate the town's finances, especially the tax rate and the $8 million in the savings account.
John O'Day, 52, said he began paying attention to local politics and understanding the importance of it at a young age, thanks to his late father.
O'Day is a consultant in the health care industry and has lived in Summerfield for a little more than two years with his wife Kelly and four-year old daughter. O'Day also has a son.
He is president of the Polo Farms neighborhood homeowners association board, has volunteered for Founders' Day, and was recently appointed to the town's newly formed Trails and Open Space Committee.
When O'Day lived in Pennsylvania he served four years as the director of the Susequehanna Appalachian Trail Club, and also served on the board of directors for Historic Gettysburg-Adams County and the planning committee for the Gettysburg Yuletide Festival.
"I see significant change on the horizon with U.S. 220 coming through," O'Day said. "We moved here because of the way Summerfield is. If that changes, I'd like to be a part of that process. I know what attracts a lot of families. I don't want that small town feeling to go away."
Vicki White-Lawrence and Eric Lowe have joined Gary Albert in the race for one open seat on the Stokesdale Town Council.
White-Lawrence, 60, has two sons, a stepson and a stepdaughter. She has a bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education.
Prior to becoming a stay-at-home mom in 1995, White-Lawrence served as the executive director of a non-profit organization that provided residential services for adults with developmental disabilities and as an agency coordinator for a regional food bank.
Since her oldest son was in kindergarten, she has volunteered in the classroom, as a tutor, and has held numerous other positions with the PTA, PTSA and PTSO at Stokesdale Elementary, Northwest Middle and Northwest High. She has also been the president of those organizations at all three schools.
White-Lawrence wrote and reported for the Northwest Observer until 2011.
She has experience as a member of Stokesdale's Holiday Parade Committee, Stokesdale Parks and Recreation Board, an alternate member of the Planning Board and the Northern Region Odyssey of the Mind board of directors.
"I have considered running in the past, but decided now is the time," White-Lawrence said. "I believe I have interest in and dedication to our town and can offer some diversity of thought on the council. I like to learn all I can and consider all sides of an issue as I make decisions."
Eric Lowe, 52, is married and has four children, three grandchildren and one grandchild on the way. For more than 15 years, Lowe has volunteered with youth basketball, football, baseball and soccer league teams in Stokesdale.
"I'm a working man," Lowe, a Lowe's Home Improvement associate said. "I go to work every day and do the best that I can. I'm a common sense guy and I want to put my two cents in."
A proud graduate of South Stanly High School in Norwood, N.C., Lowe has lived in Stokesdale since 1987. He ran for Stokesdale Town Council in 2011 and believes it's time for new ideas.
Lowe said he is a proponent of property owners' rights and would work to strengthen them.
"If you own land and you're taking care of it, you should be able to do what you want with it," Lowe said. "A lot of people feel restricted. It's time for new ideas and to let somebody else have a shot at it."