Candidates for county commissioners’ seats pitch their priorities at forum

Candidates for Forsyth County Commissioner seats pitch their focus points if elected at the candidates forum held Thursday, Oct. 20.

Candidates for county commissioners’ seats pitch their priorities at forum
November 01
13:59 2022

With three seats up for grabs and the possibility of a majority party shift, the race for District A and at-large seats on the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners may be some of the most anticipated races on the local ballot. 

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Black Political Awareness League, The Ministers’ Conference of Winston-Salem and Vicinity, the local branch of the NAACP, and The Chronicle, last week the candidates in those races came together to openly discuss their platforms and take questions from voters during an open forum. 

District A

There are two Democrats and two Republicans in the race for the two seats up for grabs in District A. 

Tonya McDaniel (D), the only incumbent that will appear on the ballot, was first elected in 2018 and is seeking her second term. During her time on the board, McDaniel said she has helped bring valuable programs, initiatives, and funding to District A. She also discussed the relationship she has built with other members of the board. 

Moving forward, McDaniel said there is still work to be done. Earlier this year she mentioned the need to improve the county’s facilities on Highland Avenue. The county’s Social Security, Health, and Human Resources departments are all located on Highland Avenue in Winston-Salem. She said the facilities on Highland Avenue should provide wrap-around services that benefit the entire community. 

“One of my priorities is to build back better Forsyth County,” McDaniel continued. “And what does that look like? …  Highland Avenue. I want to see that look like a campus, I want to see that location be wrap-around services that transform this community.”

Shai Woodbury (D) currently serves on the local school board and is the first Black woman to serve as chair of the school board. Woodbury said her main focus if elected to serve on the board of commissioners will be education, improving teacher pay, and bringing a much-needed change to District A. 

During the forum, Woodbury also discussed the need to ensure everyone in Forsyth County has representation on the board. 

“I’m not a big party person, I’m a big human person and in order for Forsyth County to move forward, we have to think beyond homogeneous representation. We have to be represented by what our society looks like,” Woodbury continued. “I’m running for County Commissioner District A because in District A we are the most uneducated, the most unsafe, the most unhealthy, and that must change.” 

Reginald Reid (R), who serves on the county’s Home and Community Care Block Grant Committee, is telling voters to “try something different” this election season. While addressing the crowd during the forum, Reid said he’s running to improve social services throughout the county, specifically services for seniors, and to create “people centric programs.” He also mentioned the need to improve public safety and limit government spending. 

“We are headed for a perfect storm in terms of our social services and I’m running because I want to tackle this problem to create more people-centric programs,” Reid said. 

Michael R. Owens (R), who was born in Greensboro and has lived in Winston-Salem for the past 20 years, says if elected he will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of NC and reduce federal influence at the local levels as much as possible. He said the purpose of the government is to protect citizens and their property. 

“Government wants to control everything and if you don’t have the right people in place to control the government, it will control you,” Owens said. “Like my friend Reggie here, think about something different this November. For decades this city has been run by the Democrat Party. If you’re unhappy in any way with the direction this city is taking, think about something different.” 


In the race for the two at-large seats on the board, voters will choose between Democrat Dan Besse and Republican Terri Mrazek

Besse (D) is probably most known for his time as a member of the Winston-Salem City Council. He served 19 years as the representative for the Southwest Ward. 

Besse said he’s running to bridge the gap between the more rural areas of the county. He said there is great wealth in Forsyth County but it’s unevenly distributed. 

“I think we need to pay special attention to bridging the gaps in good healthcare, access to public education, public safety, housing,” Besse continued. “We have great wealth in Forsyth County but it is unevenly distributed and we have to leverage both the public and private sectors in our community county-wide in order to address the problems across the county.”

Mrazek (R) is looking to win a seat on the board of commissioners for the second time. In 2020 Mrazek unsuccessfully ran as a candidate for District B. A business owner, a mother of five and grandmother of 10, Mrazek’s platform includes plans to lower taxes, improving local schools and public safety. 

For the past several years Mrazek said she’s been attending county commissioners’ meetings to learn more about the board. Mrazek believes she’s the best candidate and that she will work well with the board. Mrazek has received an endorsement from the current chair of the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, Dave Plyler 

“I raised my children as a single parent and I learned what it took to do the job and get it done and keep surviving. So no matter how many times I’ve been knocked down, I know how to get back up,” Mrazek said. “I believe that I will be the best candidate and a team player for every county commissioner that’s currently on the board.”

During the forum candidates also answered questions about economic development, improving schools, the recent rise in crime, and others. 

Sen. Paul Lowe Jr., (D), who is seeking his fourth term as the representative for District 32 in the N.C. Senate, also participated in the forum. Lowe is running against Republican George Ware, who was invited but did not attend the forum. 

The last forum will be held at the Forsyth County Central Library, 660 W. 5th St. in Winston Salem, on Thursday, Oct. 27. The forum will feature candidates running for seats on the Forsyth County Board of Education. The forums will be aired live on The Chronicle’s Facebook page. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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