A primary push for votes

Published 7:48 pm Saturday, May 5, 2012

A flurry of activity outside the Beaufort County Board of Elections office Saturday as candidates campaigned during the last day of early voting. Voters who did not take part in early voting will head to the polls Tuesday. (WDN Photo/Christ Prokos)

All seats in the N.C. House of Representatives and N.C. Senate are up for grabs this year and the 2012 election could see a record turnover in both chambers, according to one Raleigh-based think tank.

Even before the primary elections, almost a third of the state’s 170 legislators will not return to their seats in 2013 due, in part, to retirements, runs for higher office, accepting other jobs and redistricting, according to the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

In the 2011-2012 General Assembly, there were 46 freshman legislators, some 27 percent of the state legislature.

With 49 more legislators not returning in 2013, freshman and sophomore legislators will make up more than half of the 2013 General Assembly, according to Ran Coble, executive director of the center.

Beaufort County will send at least two new legislators to Raleigh.

One of them will come from the 3rd District in the state House which includes Pamlico and parts of Beaufort and Craven counties.

Incumbent Rep. Norman Sanderson, a Pamlico County Republican, chose not to seek re-election and is, instead, vying for a seat in the state Senate.

Three Republicans will face the voters on Tuesday seeking to represent the GOP in November to replace Sanderson. They are Wayne Langston of Chocowinity, Clayton Tripp of Vanceboro and Michael Speciale of New Bern.

The winner of the GOP primary on Tuesday will face the Rev. Robert Cayton of Edward, the Democratic nominee, in the general election in November for the chance to represent the 3rd District.

Another new legislator in the state House will come from the 6th District which includes all or parts of Beaufort, Dare, Hyde and Washington counties.

Incumbent Rep. Bill Cook, a Beaufort County Republican, did not seek re-election and is, instead, seeking a seat in the state Senate.

Three Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination on Tuesday. They are Jeremy D. Adams of Nags Head, Mattie Lawson of Kill Devil Hills and Arthur Williams of Washington. The winner will face Paul Tine of Kitty Hawk, the Democratic nominee, in the general election in November to represent the 6th District.

In the 1st District race for the N.C. Senate two Beaufort County Republicans, Cook and Jerry Evans are vying for the Republican nomination.

The winner on Tuesday will face incumbent Stan White of Nags Head, who is unopposed for the Democratic party nomination, in the November election.

The 1st District includes all or parts of Beaufort, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde Pasquotank and Perquimans counties.

Below is a listing of those running for their party’s nomination in the November elections.

NC State Senate District 1, Republican Primary

Bill Cook Jr.

“I don’t know how many years it’s been since conservative-thinking people in the east have had a conservative candidate for the Senate. When you think about it, it’s just been a long, long time. This is an opportunity to give those people a conservative voice to represent them,” said Cook.

Cook is currently holds the 6th District seat in the state House. He is a retired electric-utility executive who moved to the area from Washington, D.C. He and his wife, Holly, reside in the Cypress Landing community, south of the Pamlico River near Chocowinity.

Jerry Evans

“As a registered Republican, it is important to have someone in Raleigh that understands how critical it is to bring jobs to Beaufort, Dare, Washington and Hyde Counties and I am willing to work hard to make this happen,” Evans conveyed in an email. “Eastern North Carolina has always been my home, born and raised here — so I truly understand the real issues that need to be addressed in Raleigh,” said Evans.

Jerry Evans is owner of Century 21-The Realty Group in Washington. He resides in Washington with his wife, Brenda. The couple has two adult children, Neal and Brian.

NC House of Representatives District 3, Republican Primary

Wayne Langston

“We are in terrible trouble with our budget situation. Among other things, we have borrowed over two billion dollars from the federal government to fund unemployment payments with no end in sight. Northeastern North Carolina needs representation within the GOP house majority, and I aim to provide that voice.”

Langston lives in Chocowinity and is the co-owner of R&L Investment Homes LLC, Scott And Franklin Inc., and Pit & Pump Inc. He has three children, Donovan, Samuel, and Rebekah.

Michael David Speciale

In a recent interview with the WDN, Speciale said he would work to improve the state’s economy by removing unnecessary regulations on business, lowering the corporate-tax rate and reducing state spending. He said he would work to reduce federal and state interference in local decisions about education and to return the public schools’ focus to a core curriculum of reading, writing and arithmetic.

Speciale’s campaign website says he is a former chairman of the Craven County Republican Party and is a retired Marine. Speciale resides with his wife, Hazel, in Stately Pines, an unincorporated community between New Bern and Havelock.

Clayton Tripp

From Tripp’s website: “My motivation for running for this position comes from the sheer fact that I believe this district and state are in desperate need of someone who can bring some common sense to today’s government. I feel that too much time and money is wasted on nonessential issues when ones of greater importance are brushed to the side.”

Tripp lives in Vanceboro and is a silent partner in a brick and mortar and Internet retail business based out of New Bern, as well as an employee for the Weyerhaeuser Cellulose Plant in Vanceboro.

NC House of Representatives District 6, Republican Primary

Mattie Jane Lawson    

“I believe in family values. I believe the government should not spend more than it makes and that local government should have control.”

Lawson also said she is opposed to raising taxes and adding more regulations that kill jobs and stifle business growth and development. She describes herself as “a social and fiscal conservative.”

She retired to the Outer Banks from Virginia after a 24-year career in business, most recently working for Raytheon Corp., as a principal systems engineer government contractor for the National Geo-Spatial Intelligence Agency in Reston, Va.

Arthur James Williams III

“During my years in the House, I worked with Republicans on business-friendly legislation and socially conservative issues,” Williams said in a written statement. “The new majority in the House has taken steps to make our state more attractive to business, and I believe I can work with them to advance the interests of Eastern North Carolina.”

Williams was elected to the N.C. House of Representatives as a Democrat in 2002 and served four terms. He resides in Washington with his wife, Ginny.

Jeremy D. Adams

Adams said North Carolinians are losing much of their individual liberty, in part because of economic policies that have led to excessive taxes being imposed on individuals and corporations.

“Without good economic policies, you can’t have individual freedom. Most people don’t understand how the current economic policies hurt them in the long run. North Carolina’s taxes are so high and the red tape is so pervasive, we can’t get industry to come here,” he said. “We need to change that.”

Adams is an Army Veteran and currently serves in the NCARNG. He is a licensed North Carolina Real Estate Broker and has an 11-year-old son, Noah.

Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, Democratic Primary

Lloyd Ballance    

Ballance stressed the importance of job creation and economic development in Beaufort County and believes the future economic growth in Beaufort County lies in the development of the county’s tourism industry.

From 1982-1988, Ballance was manager for the Town of Kill Devel Hills and said that many of the same issues facing Kill Devil Hills, like balancing a governmental budget, addressing the community’s needs for drinking water, participating in the planning and construction of a new jail, are issues facing Beaufort County in 2012.

Ballance lives in Belhaven with his wife, Rosemarie, and has two children and two step-children.

Robert Belcher

Belcher said his top priority as a county commissioner would be to promote job growth and economic development in the county.

“People in Beaufort County are hurting for jobs,” he said. “Growing the infrastructure in the county would lead to us growing the tax base, and you could do more for education and other priorities without having to raise taxes.”

Belcher is a former chairman of the Beaufort County Schools Board of Education and retired public-schools educator, serving the last 11 years of his career as principal of John Cotten Tayloe School. He lives with his wife, Mary, in the Washington area.

Mickey Cochran

Cochran, in an interview with the Daily News, said some of the decisions made by the county commissioners in recent years have worked against the financial interests of the people who live here and have exacerbated an already difficult financial climate. He said he hopes his candidacy will bring some of these issues to the forefront of the county’s political discussion.

“What we need are people who are going to make intelligent decisions and speak out and oppose those things that are wrong,” he said.

Cochran taught English for 30 years in North Carolina and Delaware Schools and previously served on the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners from 1996 to 2000.

Carolyn W. Harding

A long-time member of the Beaufort County Committee of 100, Harding said she would work to support economic development in the county, including industrial recruitment efforts by the county’s Economic Development Commission.

“Beaufort County needs to try to expand the economy of the county,” she said.

But, she said, that economic development should not come at the expense of the county’s environment.

A retired school social worker, Harding had a 20-year career with the Washington City Schools after several years overseeing her family’s farming operations near Aurora. Harding lives in the Washington area.

Jerry E. Langley

Langley has had a seat on the Board of Commissioners since 2000 and said he was first attracted to the post because “there was a need” to represent average residents.

“I think there are a lot of people who identify well with me,” he said. “I’m pretty much the average guy. I’m not a business owner. I’m a state employee. I get up and I go to work. I don’t have great assets. I’m the guy who cuts his own grass and weed eats his own ditch.”

Langley is a judicial-services coordinator based in the Beaufort County Courthouse and resides in the Washington area with his wife, Alice.

Wayne Sawyer

Sawyer said he supports economic development, but he wants the community to focus more of its efforts on attracting small businesses to the county instead of one large industry.

“Bigger is not always better,” he said.

He also said county leaders should strive to support the local public schools and work to ensure that students at every school have the same access to a quality education.

Sawyer, 60, retired from PCS Phosphate, now known as PotashCorp Aurora, after more than 36 years with the company. He and his wife, Jeannie, have three children and live in the Blounts Creek area.

Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, Republican Primary

Gary Brinn

“We need to get the job done for the people of Beaufort County,” he said. “There’s got to be common ground somewhere…The most important thing is to make sure the decisions we make are the best decisions for Beaufort County.”

Brinn said he would work to lower taxes and promote economic growth in Beaufort County, primarily by fighting “needless rules and regulations that stop a person from doing business in Beaufort County.”

Brinn and his wife, Kay Jordan, have two children and live in the Washington area.

Larry Britt

“Our Commissioners have done a good job over the last few years when you consider the diverse make up of the Board,” Britt wrote in an email. “However, as with all organizations, over time, some change is needed. New ideas and a fresh way of seeing the needs of our community are important as we understand the unique problems and opportunities that exist.”

Britt has been involved in Beaufort County politics for almost 10 years and served as the local GOP chairman from 2009-2010. He is a real estate broker and resides in Blounts Creek with his wife, Jackie.

Donald Dixon

Dixon said he would work to make it easier for businesses to operate in Beaufort County by lobbying lawmakers in Raleigh and Washington, D.C., to eliminate some of the burdensome regulations and fees that hinder small businesses.

“Economic development in Beaufort County is important to me,” he said, though he feels it should not come at the expense of the county’s quality of life and the environment that makes Beaufort County a special place to live.

Dixon and his wife, Crystal Adams, live in the Washington area. He has two daughters and one grandson.

Rick Gagliano

“A lot of people share my views that we need a change, we need a new direction to help Beaufort County. That means jobs, more jobs, spending less in the budget and prosperity for the people.”

Asked to define the major issues the county is facing, Gagliano highlighted “employment, taxes and the ferry issue.”

“I think the ferries are an extension of the highways that we pay for already,” he said, adding he’d oppose the imposition of ferry tolls in the future.

Gagliano served as vice chairman of the city’s Human Relations Council, a council-appointed body. He is a retired orthopedic prosthetist and resides in Washington with his wife, Linda.

Tony (T.J.) Keech Jr.

Keech said on his website that he would work with county agencies to streamline services, cut unnecessary or wasteful spending and implement cost-saving methods of conducting business, as well as look at the large turnover within departments in the county. He said addressing this problem will mean that Beaufort County can stop being a training ground for other counties and hundreds of thousands of Beaufort County tax dollars can be saved, ultimately lowering the county tax rate.

Keech is a probation and parole officer with the N.C. Division of Community Corrections. He and his wife, Catherine, live on River Road outside Washington, with their two children, ages 1 and 3.

Jay McRoy

First elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2000, McRoy gained prominence as a budget hawk when he pointed out an error in a proposed county spending plan that would have raised property taxes.

“I don’t have any other long-term agendas or reasons or ambitions, and I’ve always said that I ran to try to help the people of Beaufort County to what I thought was best for the people of Beaufort County,” McRoy said of his current bid for a party nomination.

McRoy is a certified public accountant who owns and operates a small cattle farm and Warren’s Hot Dogs of Greenville. He resides in Chocowinity with his wife, Judy. The couple has three daughters: Jill Sparks, Jan Hill and Joy McRoy.

Hood Richardson

Elected in 1996, Richardson has served four terms on the Board of Commissioners. He is a self-described conservative who is known for devoting untold hours of his private time to board and committee meetings.

“I’ve been a watchdog. … Government is no different than business. You’re only going to get out of it what you put into it, and there are not a lot of elected officials who are willing to put anything into their elected positions simply because there is no direct, day-to-day supervision. They get supervision every four years or so whenever they’re elected.”

A land surveyor and engineer by profession, Richardson lives in Washington with his wife, Shirley.