SILER CITY — Siler City Commissioner at-large incumbent Cindy Bray will face two political newcomers, James Underwood and Dean Picot II, in Siler City’s first municipal election since 2020.
Siler City’s local races in 2021 were delayed because of required redistricting due to a population change in the 2020 census. Election filing was further delayed by the gerrymandering lawsuits against the maps drawn by Republicans in the N.C. General Assembly.
Siler City elects five commissioners for each of the town’s five districts and two commissioners who serve as members at-large. Bray and Commissioner Chip Price are the incumbents for the two at-large seats. Price is seeking the mayoral seat; his commission seat doesn’t expire for another two years.
Cindy Bray: Bray, the former mayor pro tem, is retired from Chatham County Schools. She did not return the questionnaire the News + Record sent to each of the candidates in this year’s primary.
James (Jay) Underwood: Underwood is a lifelong Siler City resident who recently retired from the Siler City Police Department after nearly 30 years on the force. He said he’s looking to serve as town commissioner “to continue working to improve my hometown.”
Underwood said he has three main goals if he’s elected as commissioner at-large: bringing citizens together, addressing safety concerns and improving the town’s infrastructure.
“I believe the biggest challenges in Siler City currently are trying to find ways to bring in additional industry, housing and finding ways to keep our communities safe and drug-free,” he said. “We need to look at why our youth leave this area in order to prosper and find ways to change that.”
As a retired major from the SCPD, Underwood said his experience on the front lines provided him with a different picture on what is going on in town than his opponents.
“I have an understanding of the many different communities that make up our town and the people that I served,” he said. “I’m not a politician, but my heart has always been with Siler City, and I want to continue to serve.”
He’s attended several commissioner board meetings during his time with SCPD, and because of his continued dedication to the town, Underwood said he has the unique skill set to serve.
“No town board is perfect, but the constituents have elected the best candidates to come together and find ways to benefit the town and its residents,” he said. “Everyone may not always leave happy, but the commissioners must continue to fulfill their obligation to work together for the greater good of the community.”
Dean Picot II: Picot is a new resident to Siler City and is running for the at-large seat. He is from Greenville and lists his profession as an entrepreneur.
He is also a recovered drug addict and alcoholic, and he said his experience with that provides a unique understanding of some of the underlying issues he says Siler City faces.
“After living in cities with extreme poverty and addiction, it is astounding to witness a town that is in as much distress as Siler City,” Picot said. “I will provide local resources, which will help people suffering from addiction and their loved ones heal on a long-term basis.”
Picot’s primary goals as commissioner would be to address poverty, access to affordable health care and housing, and take action on what he calls the “drug epidemic that has overtaken” Siler City.
“We are losing lives, and our community is hurting,” he said. “Nothing is more important to me than the restoration of our families and of each individual victim of this deadly war.”
Picot said he feels the elected officials in Siler City have not fulfilled their duties as commissioners. He said the Siler City government is “absolutely not serving the people of Siler City” and has dealt with “a lack of leadership for decades.”
“The people need to be put in charge,” Picot said. “We need a comprehensive government that can and will enact the desire of the local municipality it should serve.”
Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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