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Brunswick County commissioner candidates run civil campaigns

Randy Sullivan doesn't want to say why he thinks he'd be a better Brunswick County commissioner than Marty Cooke.

Sullivan is afraid anything he'd say would sound arrogant or like he's trying to sling some mud, and he doesn't want any part of either.

Sullivan's reticence doesn't give voters a lot to go on when deciding whether to check his name rather than that of the incumbent in the District 2 Republican primary. And there's no Democratic opposition to Cooke so the primary on May 4 will determine the election.

"We're very similar," Sullivan said of himself and Cooke, "and voters are going to make their decisions."

Sullivan has said he wants to cut government spending and lower taxes. He knows that Cooke is working to juggle an expected budget shortfall and to not increase taxes, but Sullivan said he's never heard Cooke say he wants to lower taxes.

Sullivan is not sure what he'd do to close an anticipated $10.4 million budget shortfall in the next fiscal year's budget or just how he'd cut spending. But he knows it's got to be done.

"It's just common sense," he said.

Cooke said he believes he'd be the better representative of the people because of the more than two years he's sat on the county board and the work he's put into finding the right numbers to call to help his constituents.

"There's a learning curve to it," he said.

No one in this race is throwing around money, either.

Cooke said he's using signs left over from his '08 campaign and has spent maybe $275 on postage and other things. He's put out about 200 signs but says his son, who Cooke calls his campaign manager, thinks they need more on the road.

Sullivan said he's put maybe $1,200 into his campaign. He has planted about 100 signs, saying that if you think strategically about where you're putting them, you don't need many for maximum benefit.

A driver only needs to see one to identify a name with an election.

"They're not hunting for your sign at every junction," Sullivan said.

The two candidates, who have known each other for more than 20 years, have nothing bad to say about each other.

"He's a nice guy," Cooke said of Sullivan. "He's really nice."

"I know Marty real well," Sullivan said. "He's a friend of mine."

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