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Two seek Central District GOP nomination

The Mount Airy News is running question-and-answer articles with candidates leading up to the May 17 primary. We posed the same three questions to candidates for the Surry County Board of Commissioners Central District seat. Here are their answers.

Mark Marion

Mark Marion is a Surry County Commissioner from Dobson who is seeking a second term as county commissioner, and is the past chair of the commissioners. He was born and raised in Surry County. A man “63 years young,” he along with wife Sara have four daughters and six grandchildren. He is a member of Salem Baptist Church in Dobson who had racked up more than 30 years of service with RJ Reynolds before retiring.

Marion said, “I proudly coached many years and a couple of generations of children in baseball and basketball. Although I no longer coach, I get to enjoy watching my grandchildren play in all their sports.”

Question: Can you identify an area of concern that matters to you and describe how you may choose to address that issue?

Marion: As a county commissioner, all things that go on in Surry County matter to me but the two things that concern me most at this time is our opioid crisis and the overcrowding in our jail. The jail has been overcrowded for several years and it is a danger to the detention officers as well as the inmates. It is an enormous cost to send our inmates to other counties to be housed. The state inspection department was one step from closing our jail down. Our new jail is under construction and will house a new 911 operations center as well as a magistrate’s office. It can’t be completed soon enough.

The opioid crisis is not going away anytime soon, county government along with the sheriff’s department has initiated a substance abuse program where county employees along with volunteers are working diligently to combat the everyday influx of drugs in our county and assist the citizens that are affected in their rehabilitation. A plan to use opioid settlement money has been designed as a long term road map, lots of counties don’t have one.

Question: How would you describe your political philosophy and what that means for your style of governance?

Marion: As the old saying goes “treat others as you would have them treat you.” I came to the conclusion a long time ago that I’m never going to please everyone. That’s where the common sense approach comes in. I try to make decisions based on what I believe my constituents would want. Sometimes you get it right but believe me the times you get it wrong; you’re going to hear about it.

I really enjoy being a commissioner, sure there are times when you get those calls where citizens are unhappy, and you do your best to lead them in the right direction; then you get those calls where you can ease someone’s mind or comfort them. We learn and grow together every day and I would appreciate your support for this upcoming election.

Question: What does the future of Surry County look like in five years?

Marion: Surry County’s outlook is very bright. No one has a crystal ball to predict the future but the economic development along with infrastructure, broadband, water and sewer, natural gas upgrades and improvements to the Mount Airy/ Surry County airport to attract new businesses and sustain our present ones outline a promising future.

We haven’t raised property taxes since I’ve been on the board, and I don’t foresee it in the near future. Our citizens are very good about paying their taxes so we can invest in the welfare of our county. We strive to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars and with God’s help Surry County will continue to prosper. We want our county to be a place where our children and grandchildren want to continue living and raise their families.

Landon Tolbert

Landon Tolbert, 30, a small business owner from Mount Airy is in his first campaign for office. “I have been a small business owner since I was 15 years old. I know the value of a hard day’s work. I believe because of this experience I will make a strong, conservative, leader for Surry County.

“I would like to begin by thanking my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for allowing me to take this journey to run for Surry County commissioner. I am a Christian first and a true fiscal conservative. I stand for the 2nd amendment, pro-life, and the Constitution.”

Question: Can you identify an area of concern that matters to you and tell the readers how you may choose to address that issue?

Tolbert: One issue that I am concerned about is that we need stronger leadership in office. I believe that we need conservative leaders who will work for the people. There seems to be a disconnect between what the people want and what the representatives do. For example, it seems like the government’s spending keeps increasing while the taxpayer’s wallet seems to keep decreasing. Times are hard right now due to inflation, and I believe that we need leaders who take this into consideration. We need leaders who will be more fiscally conservative with taxpayer dollars.

Question: How would you describe your political philosophy and what that means for your style of governance.

Tolbert: I, Landon Tolbert, want to be a watchman on the wall for the people of Surry County. The term watchman comes from the book in the Bible Ezekiel 33. A watchman to me, means a true representative that fights for the good of the people and understands the consequences of their decisions. I believe I will answer to not only the people, but I will answer to God if I do not fulfill the job of a watchman correctly. With every decision that I make, I will honor God and the people.

Question: What does the future of Surry County look like in five years?

Tolbert: I believe that if conservative leaders are voted into office, then Surry County has a bright future. Surry County can have a future with low taxes, a small government, a thriving economy, and a place where young families will choose to stay and live their lives. I hope to make all this possible with your vote.



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