01/04/08 — Losing our voice? Don’t believe it ... Kerr’s retirement will leave a vacuum

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Losing our voice? Don’t believe it ... Kerr’s retirement will leave a vacuum

So Sen. John Kerr is leaving the N.C. Senate after more than a decade of service.

Congratulations should go out to him. He has earned the rest he is about to take — and his county should be grateful for all he has done.

But the news also brings up a question.

What will Wayne County do now?

If you do not think this next election is important, just take a look at the committees Sen. Kerr is a member of and the attention and money he has brought to this community. While he has served his entire district well, he has given this portion of eastern North Carolina a whole lot of clout.

Whoever takes his place will have some pretty big shoes to fill — and Wayne County will feel his loss.

As we prepare to determine the senator’s replacement, we need to think strategically.

Wayne County is in an important transition period. Leaders here are seeking to build an infrastructure that will support and encourage future growth.

And we need a new senator who understands that goal and is willing to fight to make sure Wayne County is counted when it is time for transportation dollars and other state programs.

So that means that we need to make sure that the person we put into the 5th District seat recognizes that this is a portion of his constituency that is not going to sit back while money and legislation go everywhere else.

The obvious answer is to put someone from Wayne County into the job, and we have a couple local candidates who are worth considering. But that does not guarantee that this county will not feel a power vacuum when Sen. Kerr leaves — and a Wayne County address should not be an automatic vote-getter.

We will need instead to judge our next senator on his or her determination, dedication and understanding that this is a county with clout and expectations.

It will be interesting to see who steps up to the challenge — and it is absolutely critical that we challenge every single person who wants to represent us.

Published in Editorials on January 4, 2008 11:00 AM