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Candidates Lined Up In Local Races
County Commission And Legislative Hopefuls File For Fall Elections
March 1, 2012

few days ago, it appeared that some Pamlico County Commission seats might go uncontested in this year’s elections. But that changed in the final two days of the filing period — which ended at noon on Wednesday.

Pamlico County Commission Races

In County Commission District 2, which includes the Town of Oriental, as well as the communities of Pamlico, Florence, Whortonsville, Paradise Shores and River Dunes, Oriental resident and Democrat Roger Bullis filed on Tuesday to challenge incumbent Commissioner Christine Mele in November. Mele is one of two Republicans on the seven member board.

Pamlico County Commission District 2 which stretches from Oriental’s Smith Creek toward Florence and Whortonsville. Incumbent Christine Mele, a Republican is running against Democratic challenger Roger Bullis.For a larger version of map click here.

In a press release sent out on Wednesday, Bullis, a semi-retired professor and Oriental resident for 5 years, said that as commissioner, he would, “fight for a fair deal for our friends and neighbors in the county.” He cited state cuts in education as one challenge the County faced, and also touched upon another issue the county is grappling with.

“The recent ferry tax imposed upon us by our own Raleigh representatives,” Bullis said, referring to Pamlico County’s Republican legislative delegation, “should tell us that we have to brace ourselves for more attacks on our county.”

“I have no problem stating that their budget votes against their own local people have been shameful.”

In neighboring District 5, Republican incumbent Kenny Heath of Arapahoe will face Democrat Vernon Cooper, who filed on Wednesday morning. That district includes Kennell’s Beach, Arapahoe, Minnesott Beach,China Grove and stretches along the Neuse River to Oriental’s outer ring of subdivisions on “the other side of the bridge.” Cooper, says Elections Supervisor Lisa Bennett, lives on Stryontown Beach Road.

District 3, in which Incumbent Republican Kenny Heath will face a challenge from Democrat Vernon Cooper. To view larger version of map, click here

Meanwhile, in western Pamlico County’s District 1, no Republican filed for the race. Two Reelsboro Democrats, Pat Prescott, who serves as Grantsboro town clerk, and Food Lion produce manager Lance Hamby, will face off in a May 8 primary. With no Republican in the race, that primary will determine who will succeed outgoing Commissioner Roy Brinson in District 1.

The other four seats on the commission are not in play this year. Commissioners Jimmy Spain and Carl Ollison retain their seats until 2014, as do at-large commissioners Ann Holton and Paul Delamar, who is the Commission chair.

Who Will Represent Pamlico County In The Legislature?

Pamlico County voters this November will also have a chance to pick their legislative delegation for State House District 3 and State Senate District 2.

Three Republicans – Michael Speciale of Craven County, Wayne Langston of Chocowinity and Clayton Tripp of Vanceboro — filed for the House seat that State Representative Norman Sanderson of Arapahoe is vacating. The three will compete in the May 8 primary to determine which Republican will face Aurora minister and Democratic Beaufort County Commissioner, Robert Cayton in November. No one from Pamlico County entered that race.

Norman Sanderson, who in recent weeks has drawn criticism for not working to fend off the ferry toll in the Legislature last year, is seeking the State Senate seat in District 2 currently held by Jean Preston. Preston, who had also voted for the ferry toll, is not seeking re-election. Sanderson faces a May primary against two other Republicans: Pine Knoll Shores Mayor Ken Jones and Jarrett Bay Boatworks founder Randy Ramsey. The winner will face Democrat, Gregory Muse of New Bern, who ran for the seat 4 years ago.

The eventual winner of the District 2 Senate seat would represent all of Pamlico County, as well as Carteret and Craven Counties.

The ferry toll issue is expected to be a factor in the House and Senate races, at least for Pamlico voters. The Legislative mandate to impose tolls has shown how decisions made in the Legislature affect daily life and in Pamlico County this year, that may lead more voters to pay closer attention to those races and the candidates running in them.

Posted Thursday March 1, 2012 by Melinda Penkava

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