Democrat Evelyn Terry and Republican Kris McCann are vying for the N.C. House of Representatives 71st District seat, which was left vacant when longtime State Rep. Larry Womble decided not to seek reelection.
Whoever wins the seat in November, will be the district’s first new representative in 17 years.
Terry, who beat County Commissioner Everette Witherspoon in the primary, is a lifelong city resident who was raised primarily by her mother and grandfather, the late famous brickmason George Black. Terry, 69, said she learned many lessons about entrepreneurship watching her grandfather at his brickyard. She holds a master’s in political science from Appalachian State University. She taught school in Philadelphia, Pa. for several years. She then used her grant writing expertise during decade-long stints at Winston-Salem State University and the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem.
She won the South Ward City Council seat in 2004, succeeding her husband, Fred Terry. She served only one term before she was defeated by current City Council Member James Taylor. She is now the head of the George Black Cultural Project, where she works to preserve her grandfather’s house and brickyard. Terry is also a chair of the Forsyth County Department of Social Services Board.
Terry, who has been married for 40 years and has one adult son and a slew of foster children, said she was inspired to run for the House seat after several trusted friends raised the issue.
“I have absolutely been a public service person all of my life,” said Terry. “I was a little bit taken aback when I was asked, but I said, ‘Why not?’ when the seat became open.”
Terry said she thinks her long and varied experience, which also includes lobbying in Raleigh and working on the campaigns of other candidates, will appeal to voters. She said if elected, she will focus on getting people the training and education they need to get good paying jobs. Quality health care and social justice are also main thrusts of her General Election campaign, which officially kicked off with a rally at Sedge Garden Recreation Center on Sept. 22.
“I care about many things,” said Terry. “I have worked tireless because I care. I work for a better life, not just for myself but for everybody who’s willing to take responsibility.”
McCann, 52, another lifelong Winston-Salem resident, said current events inspired him to make his first run for public office.
“I looked at the state of our economy, the state of our government. I just thought it was time for people to step up in our government to take the role on of being a leader and being willing to make some hard decisions and trying to do what they say they’ll do,” said McCann, who ran unopposed in his primary.
The only child of adoptive parents, McCann earned an associate degree in electronics from Guilford Technical Community College and works as an electrician and electronics technician at Lorillard Tobacco Company in Greensboro. He has worked at the company, the maker of cigarette brands like Newport, for 25 years. A certified emergency medical technician, he has been a volunteer firefighter with the Beeson Crossroads Fire Department for 35 years. McCann hopes his working class background will make him relatable to voters.
Though he’s never held political office, he said he’s got a grasp on policy and has been active in state and local issues, bringing his concerns before the City Council and other elected officials. He thinks the election in the 71st district will bring positive change.
“I think it’s great that we can have change now, that someone with some new ideas can walk in,” said McCann.
McCann said he is also running to improve the lives of his neighbors. He also pledged to focus on education and educating tomorrow’s workforce. He said he’s heard from many small business owners who feel that they are over-regulated; he’d like to change that. He also said he’d like to reduce taxes to help families whose budgets are already stretched thin.
McCann is running in a heavily Democratic district and freely admits that it will be an “uphill battle.” He said he believes he’s the better candidate and hopes that voters who can look past partisanship will agree with him.
“I’m hoping people will look at the candidate and not vote across party lines; that they will look at the two candidates and see what their values are and what they bring to the table, and that will make up the people’s minds when they vote, not the fact that one is Democrat or one is a Republican,” he said.
One Stop Early Voting begins on Thursday, Oct. 18 and ends on Saturday, Nov. 3. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. For early voting sites or registration info, go to the Forsyth County Board of Elections site, HYPERLINK “http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/elections” http://www.co.forsyth.nc.us/elections.