Alston, Williams face off in Siler City Dist. 1 race

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SILER CITY — Two political newcomers are on the ballot for the town’s District 1 commissioner seat.

Albert Alston and Samuel Williams are aiming to replace Commissioner Tony Siler, who announced in December he would not seek reelection.

Albert Alston: Alston filed to run for Siler’s seat on Feb. 25. He did not respond to the News + Record’s questionnaire sent to all Siler City candidates.

Alston is a deacon at First Missionary Baptist Church in Siler City and volunteers with a number of local organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club. He’s received Siler’s endorsement for the seat.

Samuel Williams: Williams is new to Siler City and is seeking the seat on the board of commissioners as part of the “Unity 2022” ticket with three other candidates — mayoral candidate Nick Gallardo and brothers Dean and Jared Picot for the other open Siler City commissioners seats.

Williams said he and his peers decided to run for the open board seats because they believe the town’s “basic needs have gone ignored.”

“I am running because I have experience and resolve and the heart to improve the lives of not just District 1, but Siler City as a whole with access to health care and resources needed to live a life without fear,” Williams said in a questionnaire sent to the News + Record.

Williams said he works in health care and as a pastor, which he said gives him a unique skill set.

“In that role (as a pastor), I am tasked with shepherding the souls of the Father,” Williams said. “Leading them like a shepherd leads its flock, while balancing my faith in a hospital atmosphere where I am surrounded by healers, and (I’m) tasked with directing them and ensuring that they are on top of their solemn oath to inflict no harm and to save lives.”

Williams was Service Access Manager at Duke University Health’s Gastroenterology Clinic at Brier Creek, according to Duke University Health officials.

During a candidate forum on April 24, Williams told attendees he was one of the “head honchos” at Duke University Health and was already working with leadership to bring clinics to Siler City, including two urgent cares and “seven or eight” specialty clinics. The News + Record reached out to Duke University Health System officials, who said that wasn’t true.

“While Duke University Health System is always assessing potential areas for new growth, it has no current plans to open clinics or urgent care centers in the Siler City area,” Sarah Avery, the director of the Duke Health News Office, told the News + Record in an email exchange. In a follow-up email, she reiterated: “There are no discussions or plans to open clinics or urgent care centers in Siler City at this time.”

Williams resigned from Duke University Health on May 2, Duke University Health officials confirmed to the News + Record Tuesday morning.

Williams and his peers also signed a pledge to bring 1,000 jobs paying at least $40,000 a year within the first fiscal year of their tenure on the Siler City Board of Commissioners.

Williams and his running mates on the unity ticket also continuously claimed Siler City’s current government is not working on behalf of its residents, but instead to work to benefit those in office.

“For more than a decade, the government has neglected the needs of the masses and has served the few, and increased the wealth gap in power and access,” Williams said. “The government needs to remember that they are not there to hold a place or a fancy title — it comes with responsibility and a duty to the people.”

Williams said he wants to create a space where residents can voice their concerns and where commissioners will in turn work to meet citizens’ needs.

“The biggest challenges are access to affordable housing and health care, opportunities to grow within Siler City, and the reckless government spending that has benefited the few, but not the majority,” Williams said. “I will address them by having an open discussion in a welcoming environment and improving technology to ensure that we are able to reach every citizen; so, we can govern and steward the resources of the town to benefit the masses.”

Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at theeden@chathamnr.com.

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