Who will succeed Walter Marshall?

Walter Marshall’s chair sits empty with a white rose to honor the late county commissioner at last week’s briefing.

Who will succeed Walter Marshall?
March 09
07:45 2017

Photo by Todd Luck



Who will be the next county commissioner from District A after the death of Walter Marshall late last month?

The Forsyth County Democratic Party (FCDP) will be deciding that question on Tuesday night as the executive committee elects someone to fill the seat. The local party’s executive committee, which is comprised of the chairs and vice chairs from each precinct, will elect someone to fill the seat. The party’s nomination will then have to be approved by the county commissioners.  Whoever is picked will have to run for re-election in 2018.

“We believe in open elections. We believe in democracy and that’s how we’re going to conduct that election,” said FCDP Chair Eric Ellison.

Both Fleming El-Amin and Tony Burton plan to submit his name for consideration that night, though any Democrat who lives in the district could be nominated from the floor. Marshall wasn’t planning to seek reelection in 2018, so both men were already planning on running for the seat in 2018.

El-Amin resigned from the Forsyth County Board of Elections (BOE) last month so that he could begin organizing his 2018 campaign. El-Amin, a retired educator who taught in public schools, has been involved with the Democratic Party for decades and is a former chair of the FCDP. He said it was advice from the late County Commissioner Mazie Woodruff that inspired him to get involved in politics, telling him that it was important to the welfare of his five children.

“I want my children to have the best opportunities for success in this country. You’ve got to be involved in politics to make sure that happens,” said El-Amin. “I’ve got 10 grandkids, so it’s now even more important than ever.”

El-Amin said he decided to run for the office when Marshall told him he wasn’t seeking re-election and had regular conversations about it with him. He said that the seat is very important because diverse voices are vitally needed among the commissioners, just as they are on the BOE, where he served as the sole Democrat for the last four years. He said he had the sup-port of party veterans like former County Commissioner Beaufort Bailey and former Liberty CDC Chair Jim Shaw.

El-Amin said if he became a county commissioner, he would continue Marshall’s work, like making sure Social Services is funded and has an independent board and insuring that the county gives a fair share of work to minority contractors.

Burton is also a father of five who’s had a career public education. For the last decade, he’s served as CEO of the Northwest Child Development Centers Inc., which has three Mudpies accredited educational childcare centers in Forsyth, Stokes and Davie counties and an annual budget of $5 million. He’s volunteered on other Democrat’s political campaigns, including City Council Member James Taylor, who is supporting Burton.

It’ll be Burton’s second time trying for District A county commissioner. He ran in 2014, but dropped out due to illness before the primary, so his name wasn’t on the ballot. He said Marshall and Everette Witherspoon did an “excellent” job as county commissioner but he felt he could use the position to make a difference on issues like education and jobs.

“My goal would be to improve the quality of life for East Winston and Forsyth County residents,” said Burton.

Burton said that Marshall had also been aware of his intentions to run in 2018. A video announcement of Burton’s bid for the seat that he posted on Facebook got more than 3,000 views in one day.

With El-Amin leaving his seat on the BOE, the Democrats will also vote to fill his seat on Tuesday night. Susan Campbell, who is also a former FCDP chair, plans to submit her name for consideration, though any Democrat in Forsyth County could be elected to the seat by the executive committee.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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