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Seminar on running for public office is set

For anyone who has ever thought about running for local office, 2022 could be a big year, with more than 20 local offices up for election — not to mention some state and specialized posts that will be open.

And the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce will soon be holding a seminar to learn a little more about what it takes to make a run for — and hold — a public office.

The seminar, called Candidate 101, is set for Dec. 1, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Express in Mount Airy.

“The effort is to educate people, to show that if you plan to run here’s what’s involved,” said Randy Collins, president of the chamber.

“We’ve got two experts to speak. Michella Huff will kind of go through the mechanics of paperwork, filings, what the state requires and what is required locally,” he said. Huff is the director of the Surry County Board of Elections.

“We wanted to invite a former elected official who can say from experience how it was to put together a campaign, how to run it, and what I call the good, bad, and ugly of public service. What you need to prepare for should you be elected and serve on a public body.”

That speaker is scheduled to be Larry Phillips, a former member of the Surry County Board of Commissioners.

“The Candidate 101 seminar is a bipartisan event and not affiliated with any candidate or political party,” the chamber said in announcing the event. “The objective of the seminar will be to educate individuals who may be considering a current or future run for public office at the local or state government level.”

“I think people want to serve their community, this is one way for them to do it,” Collins said of running for office. “For some people, it can be a very intimidating situation having to go around and knock on doors. There’s a fundraising element to it, you have to raise money to pay for a campaign.

“There’s financial disclosure, you have to let people know how your campaign money is going to be spent, not to mention your own personal financial disclosure, to make sure everything is done in an honest, open, transparent way,” he said of seeking office.

The seminar, he said, is a way for people to learn all that might be involved, to equip them with the knowledge to help them decide if they want to run, and if so, how to go about it.

“It’s free,” he said of the gathering. “It’s really open to anyone that might want to run. Maybe it’s not this year, maybe it’s in a few years they’re thinking about running for a commissioner’s slot, or a school board seat”

This will be the second such seminar held by the chamber. In 2019 Collins said the chamber held it’s first such event. Among those who took part is Marie Wood, who since then successfully ran for a seat on the Mount Airy Board of Commissioners.

“The chamber is running it as a non-partisan, non-affiliated educational event. People should not be concerned they’re being recruited in any way. It really is an educational event, we invite people to come out and find out what’s involved and we’d love to have a crowd there.”

“There are some key elections coming up in 2022.We hope people will find out what it’s all about and come join us.”

Among the local offices open in 2022 are three seats on the county board of commissioners, the county and Mount Airy school boards, the Mount Airy mayor’s seat and three slots on the board of commissioners. The mayor and two board seats will open in both Pilot Mountain and Dobson, along with a trio each of Elkin commissioner and school board positions. For a complete list of local offices open for election, visit the Surry County Board of Elections website at

In order to participate in the candidate seminar, the chamber is asking folks to register at the chamber website, click on “Events”, then “Candidate 101.” Questions on the event can be directed to Collins via email at



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