Filing for the 2018 general election kicks off Monday, with 10 local school and government board positions up for grabs, along with the Sampson County Sheriff and Clerk of Court posts, both poised for hotly-contested races.
Both of Sampson’s N.C. House representatives, a state senator and U.S. congressman will also see their terms expire this year, with current N.C. Rep. Dr. Larry M. Bell previously announcing he would not seek his 10th term. Rep. William Brisson, who underwent a midterm party swap to the GOP back in the fall, is expected to see Democratic competition in the primaries.
The filing period will begin at noon Monday, Feb. 12, and extend until noon Wednesday, Feb. 28. One-stop voting will extend for weeks in April and early May leading up to the May 8 primary.
Poised to be the most crowded local race will be the one for Clerk of Superior Court.
Norman Wayne Naylor served as Clerk of Court since 2002, running unopposed for years. He stepped down at the end of 2017, cutting short his fourth term by 11 months. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Albert D. Kirby Jr. held interviews with seven Republican and Democrat hopefuls in the wake of Naylor’s departure and ultimately appointed Republican Dwight Williams Jr. to fill Naylor’s unexpired term.
In addition to Williams, Kirby met with Republicans Chris Driver, Chris Fann and Barbara Moore, as well as Democrats Tammy Grady, Brent Baggett and Jerry Bradshaw. Williams, as well as Driver, Fann and Bradshaw each have expressed their intentions to file for the clerk’s post.
In other local races, Republican Sheriff Jimmy Thornton, who has been elected to four consecutive terms, will be seeking his fifth. Democrat Freddie Butler, son of the late Sheriff Graham R. Butler, has also expressed his intention to run. He also faced off against Thornton in an unsuccessful 2014 campaign.
On the Sampson Board of Commissioners, Republicans Clark H. Wooten (District 1) and Sue Lee (District 3) plan to file for reelection first thing Monday, while the District 5 seat held by Democrat Kirby for the past seven years, prior to his departure for the judicial post, currently remains vacant. His unexpired term will also end in November.
The Sampson County Board of Education and Clinton City Board of Education are non-partisan races. On the county side, the terms of four board members are expiring, including Mary B. Brown, Telfair Simpson, Dwain Sinclair and Kimberly Schmidlin. On the city side, the three members whose terms are expiring in November are Carol Ann Worley, Randall N. (Randy) Barefoot and Georgina Zeng.
Soil Conservation District Supervisors Henry Moore III and Craig Thornton will also see their terms end.
Last year, just a few months into his ninth term in the N.C. House of Representatives, Bell announced that he would not seek a 10th, saying it was time for a younger person to bring their insight and leadership to the Legislature.
Bell, a Democrat, has served as the representative for the N.C. House of Representatives’ 21st district for the past 17 years, beginning his first term in 2001. The Sampson County native, a former educator, principal and superintendent in Sampson, has represented residents in his home county of Sampson, as well as Duplin and Wayne, for nine terms.
Brisson, the current District 22 N.C. Representative, was elected unopposed in November 2016 for his sixth term in the House. Brisson announced his decision in October to change his political party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. In December, Martin (Tony) Denning officially announced his candidacy as a Democratic candidate for N.C. House District 22, which consists of most of Sampson and Bladen counties and a small portion of Johnston. He chided the midterm party swap move by Brisson.
Terms also expiring are those of U.S. 7th district Congressman David Rouzer, and Sen. Brent Jackson, representing N.C. Senate’s 10th district.
Rouzer was first elected to fill the seat vacated by longtime representative Mike McIntyre in 2014. His second term expires this year. Jackson will see his fourth term expire. The Clinton-born farmer currently resides in Autryville. As a legislator, he represents Sampson, Duplin and the southeastern part of Johnston County.
The local posts are all four-year terms, while the legislative posts carry two-year terms.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.