The Walnut Cove Board of Commissioners met for a special meeting last week and appointed Charles Byron to fill the fourth seat on the board. The spot was vacated when commissioner Charles Mitchell became mayor in November’s election.
“You have so much to be proud of in what you’ve accomplished since December,” Byron said. “I want to believe that it was the Lord’s plan from the beginning and everything happened just the way it did.”
Byron ran unopposed for mayor last November, but in a surprising turn commissioner Mitchell won the election based off a write-in campaign. It was later discovered, former commissioner Sharon Conaway reported Byron’s home to the director of Stokes Board of Elections and said a satellite image revealed that while most of his property fell within city limits, several feet were outside of the town line.
In a letter to the editor published in The Stokes News on November 30, 2017 Byron wrote:
“This month has been a roller coaster of emotions for my family and me. A few weeks ago, I was running unopposed for Mayor of the Town of Walnut Cove—a town I love and have served for years. I was optimistic about the positive impact I could have on our town and had a detailed plan to help “restore the pride”. I have served the town in areas big and small for years, and was eager to bring my skills and vision to a new role.
Next, there is a knock on the door while I was away. My wife is told by the Director of the Board of Elections for the county that someone has suddenly “discovered” after all the years of me voting and running for positions in the town—that a satellite image shows that while most of my property is within city limits, my bedroom is actually several feet outside of the town line. Therefore, based on an obscure NC statute, I may not be able to run for mayor. Imagine that, after being assigned as a town voter for years, after voting in town elections for years, after the Board of Elections twice has evaluated my eligibility to run for office in town and certified that I was eligible, after receiving town services since moving to Walnut Cove, six days before an election, someone has a “Eureka” moment. My house didn’t move, the town line didn’t move, we didn’t move, and the law didn’t change, but somehow even though none of the variables changed, they added up differently.”
Byron made it clear after the election and in the published letter he was supportive of Mitchell.
“I am very proud that my town took this attempt to bring disorder and disunity and turned it instead into a historic election which rewarded a long serving and dedicated town asset with the opportunity to be mayor. Charles Mitchell is a friend and I support the new mayor and board of commissioners, and as has always been the case, I will do all I can to help my town in any way I can.”
Even though Conaway was an eight-year incumbent running unopposed, she was also voted out by a write-in candidate, Thomas Mitchell, the new mayor’s son.
After the rigmarole of the election, Byron said Genesis 50:20 came to him when he was appointed commissioner last week.
The verse says, “As for you who meant to harm me, God intended it for a good purpose that he could bless the lives of many people.”
“I’m pleased with how everything transpired. I believe it worked out for the best of the town. Walnut Tree was annexed soon after and I believe there was motivation to continue to delay, delay that issue had the same board stayed on,” he said.
Although Byron has only been a resident of Walnut Cove for about four years, he said he fell in love with its downtown 20 years ago. During that time he’s watched it slowly lose some of its vibrant business and country charm and aims to be a part of bringing it back.
“I’m excited about moving forward,” he said. “My platform was about listening to the voice of the people and getting things done. I’ve always been an advocate for proactive economic development. I don’t feel like businesses are going to come knocking on our doors and chase us down. We need to be out shaking some trees. We have about 14,000 cars a day going through our downtown and we want to see those who want to have successful businesses thrive.”
Byron holds an engineering degree and has a diverse background in manufacturing and banking. He’s optimistic Walnut Cove has immediate opportunities for improvement and significant long-term potential.
He said he’d love to hear from anyone regarding suggestions to move the town forward. He may be reached at ByronWC2017@yahoo.com
Amanda Dodson may be reached at 336-813-2426.