It's Official: Samuelson will Run At-Large

The Charlotte Observer
Earnest Winston
Mar 31, 2004

Republican incumbent Ruth Samuelson will run for an at-large seat on the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners, she announced Tuesday via a videotaped message on her Web site.

Samuelson has said for months she might seek one of the three at-large seats if she could find a strong Republican candidate to run for her District 5 seat in south Mecklenburg. She said two people, whom she declined to identify, are seriously considering seeking her seat, and she would support either one. Samuelson, who is serving her second two-year term as a commissioner, has been one of the board's strongest supporters of greenways and environmental issues. She said she decided to run at-large because she thinks she can be more effective representing the whole county. And it might help the Republicans maintain their 5- 4 majority, she added.

Either party would probably need to win two of the three at-large seats if they are to have a majority, since the six district seats are divided evenly between the two parties.

"I've always felt like I represented the interest of the entire county," Samuelson said. "Now we can let the entire county say if they have an interest in me."

Chairman Tom Cox, also a Republican, is not seeking re-election. Samuelson said she is not campaigning to replace Cox as chair, but she wouldn't turn down the job if asked to serve.

The field for this fall's commissioners' race is getting crowded.

Two Democrats - Wilhelmenia Rembert, a former school board chair, and Jennifer Roberts, former director of the Charlotte World Affairs Council - have said they will run for at-large seats.

Republicans who have announced plans to seek at-large seats are incumbent Dan Ramirez; real estate broker Andy Dulin; Larry Bumgarner, a retired information technology business owner; and trucking company manager Lewis Guignard, who ran for the board in 2002 as a Libertarian but has since switched parties.

Samuelson said she decided to announce via recorded video message because it was a creative way for more people to hear directly from her why she is running for an at-large seat.

The N.C. Board of Elections has postponed the May 4 primary until July 20 because newly drawn legislative districts were challenged in federal and state courts. The period for candidates to file for local and state offices, which was supposed to start last month, will run from April 26 to May 7.

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