BOC Candidate Franklin Gomez Flores wants to represent Siler City, Latin American community

Posted 10/14/20

Franklin Gomez Flores, a 26-year-old Siler City native, is seeking the Dist. 5 county commissioner seat by challenging Commissioner Andy Wilkie.

If he’s successful, it’ll be the first time in …

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BOC Candidate Franklin Gomez Flores wants to represent Siler City, Latin American community

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Posted

Franklin Gomez Flores, a 26-year-old Siler City native, is seeking the Dist. 5 county commissioner seat by challenging Commissioner Andy Wilkie.

If he’s successful, it’ll be the first time in nearly 20 years since anyone from Siler City was elected to the commissioners board.

A registered Democrat who is seeking office as an unaffiliated candidate, Gomez Flores serves on the Chatham County Planning Board and said he decided to seek office after realizing Dist. 5 would be going into its third unopposed election. He petitioned to appear on the ballot for commissioner until March 3, collecting 3,500 signatures — well over the 2,148-signature requirement.

His family immigrated from Guatemala to Chatham County when he was 5 years old; he’s lived in Chatham since then and graduated from Chatham County Schools. He hopes to represent Latin Americans in Siler City and work toward providing a high-quality public education, employment opportunities that pay a living wage and affordable housing to communities in need.

“Our community members need a quality public education, local employment opportunities, housing that is not cost-burden and a proponent for responsible growth,” he wrote in a questionnaire response to the News + Record. “I bring those values to the table.”

Though he thinks Chatham leaders have generally responded well to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said he wishes there was a better method of providing information across communities, particularly to non-English speaking communities. In an email interview with the News + Record, Gomez Flores said his perspective on the county’s handling of the pandemic has not changed.

“I would like to see an active case count,” he said. “I believe that would allow us to be better informed of the current situation in Chatham County. We must follow the instructions from our health professionals and continue to take our own personal precautions.”

On Facebook, some largely Republican groups have criticized the Democratic commissioner candidates, including Gomez Flores, for wasteful spending proposals. Some posters have even taken to calling him “Mike Dasher’s ‘yes man,’” with little to no evidence for such a characterization. Though he is technically running unregistered, new signs by the Chatham County Democratic Party have included Gomez Flores as well as Commissioners Karen Howard and Dasher.

“I am aware it’s not all conservatives who believe or say that. It is a select few who have chosen to get involved politically in that manner,” Gomez Flores said of the “yes man” comments. “But, no. I am not his yes man, I make my own decisions. I was already petitioning when I met Commissioner Dasher. My website, franklinforcommissioner.com, was live before our joint efforts.”

If elected, Gomez Flores’ main goals would be to prevent overcrowded and underfunded schools and keep water quality within its range. As a first-generation immigrant, first-generation college student and self-described “aspiring first-generation elected official,” he hopes to “provide a voice for the unheard” if elected as a commissioner in Chatham.

“I have a genuine desire to serve my community. I am not here to ‘fill a slot,’” Gomez Flores said. “I realized that if I do not like the way things are run, then I must seek a seat at the table where one has the power and influence to make the change.”

Reporter Hannah McClellan can be reached at hannah@chathamnr.com. 

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