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Filing begins; Bryant not running

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Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone, right, shakes hands with Devin Clark, 5, on Monday at the Nash County Board of Elections in Nashville.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The expected “blue wave” hasn't hit Nash County.

All but one candidate to file Monday to run for state or local offices this year were Republicans.

Mid-term elections are often a time when the minority party gains seats in Congress and state legislatures. With the GOP dominating the U.S. House and Senate and a Republican in the White House, many political commentators were predicting that Democrats would flock to file their candidacies for office. The trend may be developing nationwide, but in Nash County, Democrats have so far been pretty much no-shows.

Another hit to local Democrats is the surprise announcement by N.C. Sen. Angela Bryant, D-Nash, that she will not be filing for re-election for the first time in six election cycles.

Gerrymandering of N.C. Senate District 4, which was split into three districts, had a significant impact on Bryant's decision not to run.

“This new Senate District 11 voted 58 percent Republican in recent elections and is 25 percent black,” Bryant said. “I do not believe that district would be a favorable district for me to run in successfully.”

A detailed followup report on Bryant's career and future will run in Wednesday's edition of the Telegram.

Another state lawmaker affected by redrawn districts, N.C. Sen. Rick Horner, R-Wilson, moved back to his native Nash County from Wilson County so that he can file to run in N.C. Senate District 11.

Horner said his district is still in flux, but he's signing up to represent it the way it is right now and he would have to reevaluate that decision if the lines are redrawn again.

Horner said his priorities are education and economic development. He said he should be able to affect positive outcomes as his seniority in the Senate grows.

In a reversal of circumstance, the district didn't move beneath the feet of N.C. Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash, but he's moving out of his district. Collins, who's in the middle of moving to Wake Forest, said he found his perfect replacement for the House seat he's held since 2010.

Republican John Check, who filed for N.C. House District 25 on Monday, is a lifelong friend of Collins.

“I've been talking to John about taking over for two years,” Collins said. “We've known each other since we were teenagers. I wanted to hand off the seat to someone who would be better than me. He will do a better job than I have. We're in great hands.”

Check, a retired Methodist pastor, serves as senior advisor to N.C. Wesleyan President Dewey Clark.

Check said he believes in three ordained institutions: family, church and government.

“I've served my family and church faithfully and this position will allow me to serve in government,” Check said.

Nash County board Chairman Robbie Davis filed to run again. He said he will continue to be fiscally conservative. Being a former local government employee and small business owner for three decades has provided him insight into some tough decisions, Davis said, adding his No. 1 priority will be to bring new jobs to Nash County, which will build the tax base and allow for growth and services without a property tax increase.

Nash County Sheriff Keith Stone was the first to file when the Board of Elections doors opened at noon.

Holding a campaign check presented to him by a supporter, Stone said he will continue to serve Nash County with honor, diligence and compassion.

“I want to ensure Nash County is the most professional sheriff's office anywhere,” Stone said.

Nash County board Vice Chairman Wayne Outlaw also filed to run for re-election.

The lone Democrat to file Monday in Nash County, Fred Belfield is seeking his final term as a county commissioner.

“I'm in my 20th year,” Belfield said. “When I finish this next term, it will be time to let someone else have it.”

Two eligible incumbents in Nash County who have yet to file are county Commissioner Mary Wells and Clerk of Court Rachael Joyner.

The opposite party made a strong showing Monday in Edgecombe County where five candidates, all Democrats, filed for office.

N.C. Rep. Shelly Willingham, D-Edgecombe, filed to run for re-election in N.C. House District 23.

Willingham said he will continue to fight ongoing battles over education and health care.

“As far as education, we need to protect our public schools,” Willingham said. “Folks are funneling money to private schools and it needs to stop.”

Willingham said he's working to expand Medicaid and he expects a deal before the N.C. General Assembly returns to session in May.

“I'm very optimistic,” Willingham said.

Willingham said economic development and infrastructure improvements are priorities for Edgecombe County.

“I'm on the transportation committee so I should be able to help with that,” Willingham said.

Edgecombe County Sheriff Clee Atkinson filed to run for the office he was appointed to last year.

Atkinson, a retired trooper with the N.C. State Highway Patrol, said he will continue protecting the people of Edgecombe County and building on cooperation with the Nash County Sherifr's Office, the Rocky Mount Police Department and other surrounding agencies.

Wayne Hines and Billy Wooten filed to run for re-election to the Edgecombe County Board of Commissioners.

Evelyn Wilson filed to run again for the Edgecombe County School Board.

The filing period runs through noon Feb. 28.

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