By Bob Shiles
February 1, 2014
RALEIGH — All four of Robeson County’s state House representatives said Friday that they intend to seek re-election for in the state General Assembly.
Rep. Garland Pierce said he plans to seek a sixth term representing District 48. The Scotland County Democrat said he is running to help strengthen the economy and improve public education.
“Having served nearly a decade in the North Carolina General Assembly, I understand that North Carolina’s economic recovery depends upon producing more jobs and an educated workforce capable of competing in a 21st century global economy,” Pierce said. “I have championed investment in technical education and workforce training programs because they not only assist in putting North Carolinians back to work, but also create a business friendly environment in which companies want to invest.”
Pierce, 60, serves as pastor of Bright Hopewell Baptist Church in Laurinburg and has been a minister for 33 years. He retired from the United Parcel Service and served in the United States Army.
Pierce was first elected to the House in 2004 and is the senior member of the local legislative delegation. He serves on the
Appropriations, Commerce and Jobs Development and Health Human Services Committee. In 2013, he was elected as chairman of the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus.
Pierce represents portions of Scotland, Hoke and Robeson counties.
Charles Graham, a Democrat whose entire District 47 lies within Robeson County, is seeking re-election to his third two-year term.
“I’ve had the opportunity to build relationships within the General Assembly and state government during the past three years that will benefit our county going forward,” Graham said. “I will use the experiences to promote the interest of Robesonians on an individual and county-wide basis.”
Graham, of Lumberton, said “much advocacy is needed to strengthen public education, support for educators, seniors, retirees, the disabled, working families, and equal opportunities for everyone.”
“Working with our Department of Commerce to promote business opportunities creating needed jobs within Robeson County continues to be an important part of our legislative agenda in another term,” he said. “We’ve had success recently in the county, (but) much more is needed to reduce unemployment and poverty.”
Graham, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, said that as the chairman of the Joint Legislative American Indian Affairs Caucus, he will work for the “greater interest of the Lumbee Tribe and all United Tribes of North Carolina. Graham is a retired educator, having worked for the Public Schools of Robeson County for 31 years. He also has been a business owner for 16 years.
Ken Waddell, a Democrat and a former mayor of Chadbourn, is seeking re-election to his second two-year term representing District 46. District 46 encompasses Columbus County and parts of Robeson and Bladen counties.
“I’m running for a second term because a couple of years just doesn’t give enough time to do what’s needed for constituents,” Waddell said. “I want to go back to Raleigh to see that public education gets funded again. I also want to see that pre-kindergarten and underprivileged young children get the education they need. It’s important to meet their needs early in life rather than paying for it later in life when it costs more.”
Waddell, 60, also said that as a House member he will continue to be a strong advocate for rural counties. He said that rural counties need to stand together to ensure that they get their fair share of money for education and infrastructure.
Waddell said that education and all forms of infrastructure need to be in place if the region is to attract businesses and industries to the area that can result in job creation.
“There are a lot of my constituents in Robeson County that are just asking for their share of the North Carolina pie,” he said.
Waddell served 25 years as a member of Chadbourn’s town council and mayor. He is a farmer and taught agricultural education for 31 years.
Ken Goodman, a Democrat from Rockingham whose District 66 represents a small part of Robeson County, including Parkton, Lumber Bridge and St. Pauls, is seeking re-election to his third two-year term. District 66 also encompasses Richmond, Hoke, Scotland and Montgomery counties.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, especially in supporting our teachers and public education,” Goodman, a former chairman of the Richmond County Board of Education, said. “I think it is a disgrace what our teachers are being paid compared to those in other states. They deserve better.”
Goodman, 66, the former owner of a family furniture store, said his otherpriority is economic development.
“A lot of workers in our part of the state have no jobs,” he said. “I want to create a better better environment for job creation … . We also need to improve our infrastructure of all kinds.”
The filing period for the May primary begins Feb. 10.
State Sen. Michael Walters, who represents District 13, which includes all of Robeson County, has said he would not seek re-election. Walters is a Democrat.