Northwest Child Development Centers CEO Dr. Tony Burton III has publicly announced his intentions to run for one of the two District A Forsyth County Board of Commissioners seats.
The district, which is largely African American, is currently represented by Commissioners Everette Witherspoon and Walter Marshall, who said this week he plans to run for re-election. Burton, a longtime city resident, said he is running for office because he believes he can bring about positive changes.
“What really pushes the buttons for me is here is an opportunity, based on all of the things that I’ve done in this community … that will allow me to have a broader impact on the community as a whole,” said the Richmond, Va. native. “My mother taught us if you want to make a difference in something, you have to get involved in it, not just talking about it.”
Burton has served on the boards of directors of a number of local agencies, including the YMCA Winston Lake Branch, the Forsyth County Department of Social Services, Smart Start of Forsyth County and the Winston-Salem Foundation’s Black Philanthropy Initiative. A High Point chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity recently named him its man of the year, largely citing his work at Northwest Child Development to better the lives of children. As the CEO of Northwest CDC, Burton oversees six MudPies child development centers in Forsyth, Davie and Stokes Counties, the newest of which is MudPies Downtown East, a state-of-the-art facility a stone’s throw away from Piedmont Triad Research Park that opened in the fall.
“I’m at a point where I feel comfortable that I can step forward and I can actually add value,” said Burton, a father of three. “I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I could actually add value.”
Like Marshall and Witherspoon, Burton is a Democrat. Most likely, the election in the heavily Democratic district will be decided after the May 6 primary. If victorious, Burton says he will listen intently to the people he represents.
“We need to make sure that we hear what the community has said as Commissioners, and we need to see how best we can implement what the community is saying that they want,” he stated. “…You have to know how to do that to be effective, because you can’t make a difference for folks if you aren’t willing to listen to what the folks want and need.”
Marshall, a former NAACP chapter president who has served as a Commissioner since 1997, said the voters will decide who is best qualified to represent them.
“He’s old enough, and he’s qualified to be a candidate,” Marshall said of Burton, who has already launched a campaign web site (www.burton4fccommissioner.com). and Facebook page. “It’s up to the public whether the people think he’ll be a good representative of the district. It’s up to them.”
Witherspoon, who is completing his first term as a Commissioner, could not be reached for comment on whether he plans to run for re-election by The Chronicle’s press time on Tuesday. If Witherspoon does run, Marshall said he would like to see his young comrade get another term.
“I hope that he would consider running again. I think we made a great team,” he said. “I think Everette has done an outstanding job.”