One of four people who filed as a candidate for Ronda commissioner this year announced Monday morning that he no longer is running for office.

Gene Fowler told the Wilkes Board of Elections that he dropped his candidacy, but his name will still be on the ballot since the deadline for withdrawing from the race was 5 p.m. July 14, said Wilkes Board of Elections Director Kim Caudill.

Fowler also told the Wilkes Journal-Patriot that he was withdrawing as a candidate. Fowler told the newspaper that he was supporting Kevin Reece, who filed about an hour before the filing period ended on July 17, and incumbent Manual Wood as candidates for the two Ronda commissioner seats on the ballot.

Wood didn’t file to run by the deadline, but Caudill said he notified the Wilkes Board of Elections on Monday that he is a write-in candidate for Ronda commissioner. She said Wood opened a campaign finance committee with the board.

Wood was an unsuccessful candidate for Ronda mayor in 2011 and elected to his current commissioner term in 2015.

Fowler also told the newspaper that he was supporting Rheajean Benge in her bid for Ronda mayor. Benge and incumbent Victor Varela both filed for that office.

Varela is seeking his fourth term as mayor. Benge was elected a Ronda commissioner in 2013. She was an unsuccessful candidate for Ronda mayor in 2015 and lost when she ran for a Ronda commissioner seat in 2017.

Bobby Munsey and incumbent Sandra Simmons also filed as candidates for Ronda commissioner. Simmons is seeking her second term as a commissioner after being first elected in 2015. Munsey is seeking elected office for the first time.

Fowler was appointed to fill an unexpired Ronda commissioner term in April 2017, and was defeated in the election later that year. He also was an unsuccessful candidate for Ronda commissioner in 2015.

Ronda’s election is the same year as a presidential election for the first time this year. The town has non-partisan elections, which means no primaries. The mayor and all commissioners serve four-year terms.

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