12/26/07 — Former lawmaker to make Senate run

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Former lawmaker to make Senate run

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on December 26, 2007 2:25 PM

Yet another name has entered the race for the Democratic nomination for the state Senate District 5 seat, with former state Rep. Charles Johnson of Greenville throwing his hat into the ring on Friday.

Johnson is the fifth candidate to announce his or her intention to run for seat, which is currently held by John Kerr, D-Wayne, who decided in November to retire at the end of the upcoming short session.

Johnson, who represented the rural parts of Martin, Pitt and Craven counties from 2002 until 2004, was, like many legislators, a victim of redistricting. After being thrust into Rep. Marian McLawhorn's Pitt County district, he decided to challenge Sen. Clark Jenkins, D-Edgecombe, but ultimately lost.

Now he's trying again.

"I've spent a lifetime in public service and I just enjoy it," Johnson said. "I enjoy being able to help people. It's just a passion I have.

"Sen. Kerr has done a good job and I want to make sure that continues. I see District 5 as an area that has almost unlimited potential for growth."

Johnson said he feels he's the most qualified to help lead that growth because of his experiences as a legislator, an educator -- 35 years in Pitt County schools, first as a vocational agriculture teacher and then as a high school and elementary school principal -- and as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves.

"My life experiences have prepared me to represent this district," Johnson said. "Basically I look at this area as almost a sleeping giant.

"We've got some of the engines -- Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, East Coast Carolina University, our community college, Mt. Olive College and unequaled health care facilities -- that are running this area and that are really the envy of the area around us.

"I want to do my part to ensure they continue to thrive and ensure that this area stays out in front as an example. There are no more important issues to the 5th District than agriculture, education, economic development, health care services and the military."

Currently, Johnson, 71, is serving as a member of the state's Clean Water Management Trust Fund.

District 5 includes parts of Wayne and Pitt counties and all of Greene.

Johnson said, though, that just because he's from Pitt County, Wayne County residents shouldn't be concerned about not being represented.

"I will represent the district. If the people in Wayne County would look at my track record, they would find that I worked for people who lived in my county and who did not live in my county," Johnson said. "I represented those people who elected me.

"My job was to pull it all together as a district."

Also running for the seat are former Wayne Community College President Dr. Ed Wilson of Goldsboro, former state Sen. Tony Moore of Winterville, state Board of Education member Kathy Taft and Snow Hill Mayor Don Davis.