Candidate flips strategy, opts for write-in

Published 12:06 pm Saturday, July 21, 2018

A candidate for county commissioner withdrew her name from the District 2 race only to pursue a write-in candidacy for an at-large seat on the commission.

On Tuesday Dr. Elaine M. Coats submitted a letter to the Stanly County Board of Elections (BOE) announcing her intentions. Instead of facing incumbent Republican Bill Lawhon in November’s General Election, the Democrat will oppose political newcomer Lane Furr.

Coats said she believes her chance at victory is better against another political newcomer like herself compared to defeating an established candidate in Lawhon.

Elaine Coats

“Bill Lawhon has worked hard for the county and has represented us well,” Coats said about her original candidate.

In his election debut, Furr upset incumbent Republican Jann Lowder in the GOP primary. Before Coats’ new strategy he had no opposition in November and an otherwise sure victory.

However, Furr is taking the new competition in stride much the way he did in the primary.

“People in the county will make a decision,” he said. “I hope that I’m the best person and that I’m who the people want. So be it.”

As a write-in candidate, Coats’ name will not appear on the ballot. Instead, voters will be required to insert her name in the blank space, an extra step in the voting process.

“It makes it a little tougher,” Coats said. “Either way is a lot of work. This is a different kind of hard work.”

First, Coats must collect 100 signatures of registered voters and submit them to the BOE by noon Aug. 8 for verification.

Furr noted that the blank space poses a challenge to his candidacy as well.

Lane Furr

“When people see a blank space they could just keep going,” Furr said, suggesting voters might ignore his ballot thinking he has no opponent.

The Stanly County Democrat Party supported Coats’ decision and change in strategy.

“Dr. Coats will be a valuable asset to the community as a county commissioner. She is a proven community leader and an asset to the county,” said Ryan Hatley, Democratic Party chairman.

“In general, I, and the party, seek to support competent and honest candidates for all local seats and while Commissioner Lawhon is not a Democrat and we have many differences of opinion, I believe him to be a competent and effective county commissioner so I have no objection whatsoever to Dr. Coats’ decision to withdraw as an opponent against Mr. Lawhon and instead seek election to the county commission through other means,” he added.

In other election news, the One-Stop schedule was approved by the board. The Department of Social Services auditorium at Stanly Commons will serve as the One-Stop site. Dates for One-Stop are Oct. 17 – Nov. 3, weekdays, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Republican Karmen Mock Phillips now serves as chairwoman for the BOE with Democrat Ron Burris serving as vice chairman. Desi Shine remains as secretary. Sue McIntyre is the fourth member on the BOE.

Contact Ritchie Starnes at 704-754-5076 or