Nine black candidates running for N.C. offices

Nine black candidates running for N.C. offices
December 24
00:00 2015

By Todd Luck

For The Chronicle

Voters will have a variety of African-American candidates running for statewide office to choose from in 2016.

According to the campaign of gubernatorial candidate Ken Spaulding, there is a record number of African-Americans who filed for statewide office as of last week. Spaulding, a lawyer and former state representative, said that they’re strong candidates who he hopes can shift the balance of power in the state, which now has two Republican U.S. senators and Republicans in the positions of governor and lieutenant governor, as well as majorities in both houses of the General Assembly.

Spaulding has reported nine black candidates as of Tuesday.

“The 2016 Democratic primary will offer our state an historic moment of well-qualified candidates who are well prepared to serve our state in a more inclusive manner,” he said.

Among them is Chris Rey who is running for Senate. In 2011 he was elected the youngest mayor in the history of Spring Lake, defeating a 30-year incumbent. He won his second term in 2013. He’s served in the National Guard and Army, being deployed to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. He is executive director of Cumberland HealthNET, a non-profit organization that helps coordinate care for the uninsured in Cumberland County.

“Faith, family and service are what animates my life and gives it meaning,” Rey said in a release. “I am called to service in the United States Senate, just as I was called to service as mayor of Spring Lake and in the Army.”

Linda Coleman, Ron Newton,  and Robert Wilson are all vying for lieutenant governor. Coleman served as a Wake County commissioner for four years, was elected three times to the North Carolina House of Representatives and served as director of the Office of State Personnel from 2009 to 2012. She unsuccessfully ran for lieutenant governor in 2012, but did manage to get 2.1 million votes statewide.

“I’m running for lieutenant governor because I want to give North Carolina’s middle class families a fighting chance again,” she said. “The Republican majority running things in Raleigh continues to unravel so much of what built our great state. It’s time for a different approach.”

Newton is owner of State of the Art Financial Services in Durham. He’s been involved in many campaigns, including chairing the Jesse Jackson for President Committee in New York. He said he’s running because he feels there’s a need for new leadership in Raleigh.

“I think if we’re going to have tax reform, tax reform should benefit everybody,” he said.

“I think there’s a number of issues that are taking us in the wrong direction.”

Wilson, who resides in Cary, has a long career working in state government before he retired in 2012, including serving as Assistant Secretary of State and Chief Legislative Liaison for the Secretary of State Office.  In 2012 he was awarded the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian honor in the state.

Current N.C. Treasurer Janet Cowell isn’t seeking re-election and Dan Blue III of Raleigh is one of the candidates running for the seat. He is the son of state Senate Democratic leader Dan Blue, Jr. and is a lawyer who practices commercial transactions and bond financing. The responsibility of the Treasurer’s department includes the state retirement systems, the state health plan, and helping fund state and local infrastructure projects.

“In short, I would be running to protect the wealth, the health and the hopes and dreams of North Carolinians,” said Blue.

Henry J.  Pankey, a retired Parkland assistant principal, is running for state superintendent of public education. He has won numerous awards during his almost 40 years in education, including Durham’s Principal of the Year for turning around the low-performing Southern High School. While at Parkland, he was named Assistant Principal of the Year by the N.C. Association of Educators in 2012.

“We can collaboratively ensure students receive the world’s best education in safe and orderly, high quality schools,” he said on his campaign site. “Yes, we have wonderful schools, but there is much more we can achieve.”

Also among the candidates are Marcus Williams, a Lumberton attorney who is running for state attorney general and Mazie Ferguson, a Greensboro pastor and former head of the Pulpit Forum ministerial alliance, who is running for commissioner of labor.

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Todd Luck

Todd Luck

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