Election 2018: Greene County Legislative Races
Tenth District Map- North Carolina State Board of Elections
Election day is almost here, and voters in Greene County will vote for their representatives in Raleigh for the first time since the redistricting process that has put the whole county in one House district.
Where before the county was split between the 10th and 12th Districts, now all of Greene County is contained in the 10th. The election pits Republican incumbent and House Majority Leader John Bell against Democratic challenger Tracy Blackmon. Bell has represented District 10 since he was first elected in 2012.
For Bell, running for reelection is motivated by his desire to continue being a strong voice for Eastern North Carolina. His challenger says she is concerned by issues of mental health, addiction, and poverty, and she hopes to bring a focus to those issues if voters send her to Raleigh.
For both candidates, dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and the continued effort to recover from Hurricane Matthew is a big focus.
Bell points to his record in the House, working to ensure funds allocated to hurricane recovery get to those who need them.
“Our job now is to continue to appropriate that funding, and make sure that those dollars get to the needs in Eastern North Carolina,” he said.
Blackmon said she is concerned with preventing similar situations in the future.
“Climate change is a major impact, were going to have to look at where we build, how we build ... so that hopefully we can avoid the massive damage that we’ve seen,” she said.
The recent hurricane also had a devastating impact on local agriculture, and Bell said he has been working with the Department of Agriculture to provide relief to farmers impacted by Florence and Tropical Storm Michael, and will continue to help address their needs.
Blackmon expressed her concerns for challenges facing farmers today.
“The push would be protecting local farming, sustainable farming, and working toward getting benefits for our farmers,” she said. “We are seeing a huge increase in the rate suicide among our farmers, so part of what I would like to...push for too, is rural mental health access, to help support our farmers.”
On the issue of education, Bell noted he has worked help provide for teacher pay raises the last four years, and continues to work to increase classroom funding. In addressing concerns of school safety, Bell said, “I’ve been in touch with Patrick Miller and folks in the [Greene County] superintendent's office to try to make sure they are aware of the grants they can apply for and to address those concerns they have [about school safety].”
Bell also said he has been a part of legislative committees working to improve the safety of schools.
Blackmon said she supports revamping the allocation of education lottery funds to ensure they are going to support teachers directly in the classroom, and she also supports the ballot tax initiative to help teacher pay, as well as financial incentives to for teachers to continue their education.
Dealing with school safety, Blackmon does not support arming teachers, but said, “Safety in our schools can start at multiple levels, it can start with the idea of ... we can ... have one way in, one way out, we can have trainings as far as, “what do you do in emergency situations.”
Bell said he hopes to continue serving as a strong voice for rural North Carolina to “to make sure rural North Carolina isn’t left behind.”
Blackmon said that she believes a change is needed, and “I would love the opportunity to be that voice for change.”
The contest between Bell and Blackmon is not the only state legislative race on the ballot for Greene County. State Senate District 5 covers the county, and that race pits incumbent Democrat Don Davis against Republican challenger Kimberly Robb. Davis has represented the Fifth District since his election in 2008. Robb has served as the Pitt County District Attorney since 2013. Neither candidate responded to requests for an interview for this article.
Polls in Greene County will be open from 6:30 a.m to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday.