Yadkin Commissioner candidate profiles | Yadkin Ripple


Incumbent Yadkin County Commissioners Kevin Austin and Frank Zachary were successful in the Republican primary race to reclaim their seats on the Yadkin County Board. Incumbent Gilbert Hemric was defeated by newcomer Cliff Collins. As there are no Democrat challengers for the three seats up for election on the county board, Austin, Zachary and Collins are running unopposed. Below are the candidate profiles that the candidates completed earlier this year ahead of the primary.

Kevin Austin

Bio: “I was born in Stanly County and have lived in North Carolina my whole life. I moved to Yadkin County over 30 years ago and married a sweet Courtney girl, Cindy Collins Austin. She comes from the large Collins and Mathis families. I like to tell our son that I have one blood relative in Yadkin (him) but he has a couple thousand. I tend to think of everyone in Yadkin as family, because we likely are. We live a few miles from Yadkinville just off Highway 421. We attend Deep Creek Baptist Church and our son is a student at Forbush Middle School.”

Career/experience: “I have worked at our family business, Austin Electrical Enclosures, since 1983. My father started the business and moved it here in 1972. Since his retirement in 1993 I have worked in a variety of positions there including Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Manufacturing. My business experience has helped me in my work as a current Commissioner by having worked with a great variety of people and situations.”

Q. Why do you want to serve on the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners?

A. “I have a record over the last nearly 14 years of improving the quality of life for our citizens and expanding services while at the same time lowering the tax rate 4 times and never increasing it. I aim to keep us on that path.”

Q. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the county and how do you hope to address those if elected?

A. “I have long considered the lack of opportunities of all kinds for our next generation to be our biggest issue. The inability to connect our kids with careers offering meaningful work and a good quality of life has caused many of them to leave and never come back or to become involved with Social Services and the Justice system. This is an issue I have been working on diligently here since 2016 through programs like Dream it Do it, Yadkin Guarantee, and Surry-Yadkin Works. We have seen our workforce participation rate improve significantly since 2017 and our percentage of young people not in school and not working reduced from 26.1 percent in 2017 to 14.6 percent in the most recent data. If re-elected I plan to continue to build and highlight pathways for our youth to move smoothly to successful careers here in Yadkin in order to build wealth and to lower negative impacts.”


Cliff Collins

Bio: “I am from an area known as Swan Creek on the western side of Yadkin County. My ancestors settled here in the early 1800’s and I still live on part of their family farm. In fact, I have recently had a tract of the farm registered as a Century Farm with the State of NC.”

Career/ Experience: “I am a newcomer to politics in the county however my interest in the subject started when I was a student at Starmount High School. I had the privilege to serve as a page for the NC House of Representatives and was sponsored by the late Representative George Holmes. I learned a lot from George and he encouraged me to attend Appalachian State University to pursue a degree in Political Science. I graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science with a concentration in Public Management. Upon graduation, I attempted to find employment in the county but due to the state of the economy, jobs weren’t being offered at that time. Since that time, I have worked a variety of blue and white collar jobs until I was able to start a career in finance working locally in Yadkinville. Although these jobs weren’t relevant to my degree, I feel like they have helped prepare me for the task of County Commissioner. I feel like I can relate to the citizens of the County on their level because I have worked in a wide range of occupations and know what it’s like to put in a hard day’s work. Aside from my career in finance, I also maintain a small lawncare service and have began to produce hay on my family farm. I’m also a volunteer fireman at Buck Shoals Volunteer Fire Department.”

Q. Why do you want to serve on the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners?

A. “I want to serve on the board because I would like to give back to the county that’s gave so much to me. I live, worship and work in this county. I feel like Yadkin County has so much potential that’s not being tapped into. The county has so much to offer in the form of parks, history and opportunities for tourism. There are thousands of people that travel through our county on I-77 and US-421 every day that we could benefit from if we were able to offer more lodging, restaurants and businesses for them to shop with. I want to keep our rich agricultural heritage in tact while still promoting new businesses in the county. I feel like a good balance could be made with the right planning and strategies in place to see it through.”

Q. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the county and how do you hope to address those if elected?

A. I feel like the single biggest issue in our county at the moment is that voters feel like they don’t have a voice. I have spoken to so many citizens across our county that have quit voting altogether, especially in the primaries, because they haven’t been given choices. I appreciate the job that our current board of commissioners have done but I feel that the panel doesn’t reflect the overall make up of Yadkin County. Hamptonville currently is facing the potential for a quarry being established in close proximity to West Yadkin School. Citizens are concerned with what that might mean for their children, property values and the quality of their ground water. Our fire departments are telling me that they aren’t getting adequate funding to offer the best and quickest services possible to the citizens that they protect. I am a volunteer fireman and see that first hand. I’m admittedly “fresh” to the county government role and if elected, have a lot to learn about the position. I can’t give any promises if elected however I will promise to represent the people of Yadkin County to the best of my abilities. One of my favorite bible verses comes from 1 Corinthians 10:31. It says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” We will tackle these issues together and if elected, I will vote how my constituents request me to. I have told so many citizens that I have had the privilege to speak with, I am representing you. I will vote with the people of Yadkin County. I would appreciate your vote on May 17th and may God bless the fine people of Yadkin County.


Frank Zachary

Bio: I was born May 26, 1951, and have been a life long resident of Yadkin County. My parents were Walter and Mary Jo Zachary. I went to Yadkin County schools, grades 1-12. I have been married to Charlene Walls of Wilkes County, NC, for 43 years. We have three sons and two grandchildren. I have practiced law in Yadkin County for 46 years and am still in practice.

Career/experience: I previously served as a Yadkin County Commissioner for the years 1980-1988. I have been currently serving as Yadkin County Commissioner since 2010. I have been privileged to have received a four-year term in each of my previous elections. I have served on numerous Boards. I am presently on the Human Services Advisory Council and the Smart Start Board. I have previously served on the Crossroads and Partners’ Mental Health Authority Boards, the Yadkin County Health Board and the Yadkin County Social Services Board.

Q. Why do you want to serve on the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners?

A. My reason for running for Yadkin County Commissioner is the same as it was in the 1980s. Yadkin County is my home, and I want to help guide the County forward. I want to see that the people of Yadkin County have the best quality of life possible. I also want to see County government run as a business and to see that the money our citizens pay in taxes is spent prudently and not wastefully.

Q. What do you think are the biggest issues facing the county and how do you hope to address those if elected?

A. The biggest issues I see facing Yadkin County are many of the same issues that face our state and nation. We need to ensure that the public safety is protected. This involves law enforcement, emergency services and fire protection. Times are changing, and when an employee leaves the County, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find qualified people willing to serve in these capacities. Another important issue is the extension of infrastructure, such as water and sewer. The Commissioners have worked very hard to extend those services to more of our citizens. We are constantly seeking grants and outside sources of financing for these water and sewer projects. And there is much more that needs to be accomplished.

We have a lot to be proud of in Yadkin County. We are not the biggest county in North Carolina. But in my mind, we are the best!