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“It appears that way,” Steve Wilkerson said, when asked in a phone interview if he is running for the Bedford County Board of Supervisors District 3 seat.
Yes, he’s running. He’s already turned in his preliminary paperwork to Barbara Gunter, the county’s registrar. He’s also secured the Republican Party’s nod, according to Nate Boyer, the Bedford County Republican Party Chairman.
He’s also secured Roger Cheek’s support. Cheek, the current District 3 Supervisor, has announced that he won’t seek re-election. Wilkerson said that, when he learned Cheek was not going to run, he met with him. That’s when Wilkerson decided to run.
The last time Wilkerson ran for that seat, he did so without Cheek’s support. That’s because he tried to unseat Cheek. Wilkerson was, and still is, the District 3 planning commission member. After Cheek was re-elected, he re-appointed Wilkerson to that position.
“I think he was under a lot of pressure to get rid of me,” Wilkerson commented. “But, he’s bigger than that. He had a lot of confidence in me.”
Like Cheek, Wilkerson is a Bedford County native. In Wilkerson’s case, he’s a 1972 graduate of Liberty High School. Also like Cheek, he owns a small business, Rainfrost Nursery, that he started himself.
The nursery, which he started in 1983, is part of the family farm, Bethel Heights Farm, which has been in his family since 1928. Wilkerson said that nursery’s office is in the house where his father, Raymond Wilkerson, was born. Raymond Wilkerson is a retired educator — a former elementary school teacher and, later, guidance counselor. “And a lifetime farmer, too.” Steve Wilkerson added.
Bethel Heights Farm is a commercial cow/calf operation.
“I just feel like I can evaluate situations and act in the best interest of everyone in the county,” Steve Wilkerson said. “I think I can act out of common sense, compassion and fairness.”
Wilkerson has served on the planning commission for 18 years and he feels that’s helped prepare him for the supervisor’s job. It’s given him an understanding of how the county’s government works and he knows the people on the county staff.
“You also learn that you may not always be right,” he added.
It’s also given him the experience of sitting in a position from which he listens to two people arguing opposing points of view, and then having to make a decision. The planning commission makes recommendations to the board of supervisors on land use issues.
“The people are supposed to benefit from this,” Wilkerson said, describing what he has to keep in mind when casting his vote on the planning commission.
Wilkerson likes what he sees on the board of supervisors.
“I like the attitude of the board in keeping Bedford business friendly,” he said.
Wilkerson said he will approach service as a supervisor with an open mind on how to expand the county’s tax base. This is where keeping the county business friendly comes in. He noted, pointing to his own business, that most businesses have significant assets that are taxed.
“They do add appreciably to the tax base without adding significantly to the demand for services,” he said.
If elected, Wilkerson will have to appoint his successor to the planning commission.
Steve Wilkerson, who is 58, is a 1972 graduate of Liberty High School.