02/11/08 — Stone to run for District 5 seat in state Senate

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Stone to run for District 5 seat in state Senate

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 11, 2008 1:45 PM

On Thursday, Goldsboro resident Chuck Stone became the seventh candidate to declare his intention to run for retiring state Sen. John Kerr's District 5 seat.

Stone, the current director of North Carolinians for Affordable Health Care and a retired administrative officer at O'Berry Center, will be competing with five other Democrats for the opportunity to try to keep the seat in their party's hands.

He explained that he's running for three primary reasons -- taxes, education and most importantly, health care.

"I believe that state policies have failed to address the concerns of working families," he said.

And tops among those is health care.

"We must provide education for our children, but isn't it just as critical that we provide health care?" Stone said. "My primary motivation is we need to call attention to this growing health care crisis. North Carolina's citizens are hard working people who have played by the rules of the game, but can't afford health insurance and health care for their children and families.

"I'd heard personal stories of people's inability to afford health care, but this job over the last two-and-a-half years has convinced me that we have people who, not only cannot afford health insurance for their children, but who delay care because they feel they cannot afford it. The system is beginning to collapse."

But, he acknowledged, there also are needs in education.

"Our educational system needs to be transformed to ensure that regardless of where our children live, they have access to the best teachers and technology needed to compete in a global economy," Stone said.

Most important, he continued, is the need to increase parental involvement in the school system.

"I think North Carolina has certainly made an effort to make a major investment in education in the last few years, but it's not just money. We need to come up with programs that will involve the parents in their children's education," he said.

Another part of the problem, though, he added, is a pay scale that does not encourage teachers -- both his wife and daughter are teachers -- to remain in the profession.

"We need to look at the salary structure and do something to bring it up to help teachers stay in those careers," he said.

The former State Employees Association of North Carolina president also believes that similar investments need to be made for those in other state jobs.

"Failure to fund pay plans for state employees and teachers can adversely impact the success of education, mental health reform, our infrastructure, the judicial system, natural resources and other areas of state service," Stone said,

Finally, he continued, his third major area of concern is the state's tax structure, which, while good for large corporations, is hurting working families and small businesses.

"We need a study on our tax system. It was last reformed during the Great Depression and I believe it's out of kilter," he said.

And, he thinks that he's the right candidate to help improve all those things.

"For the past 15 years I have worked directly with legislators. I believe that this experience and that gained from working with citizen advocacy groups will enable me to provide effective representation for the citizens of District 5 and the state," Stone, 59, said. "I think this is the right time for me because of the fact my children are grown and on their own, my wife and I are retired from our state employment, and I just feel like I have something to offer. I feel a responsibility to help make the lives of other people better."

District 5 includes the eastern portion of Wayne County, all of Greene County and part of Pitt County.

Already declaring their intention to run for office are, Democrats Ed Wilson of Goldsboro, Kathy Taft of Greenville, Charles Johnson of Greenville, Tony Moore of Winterville, Don Davis of Snow Hill and Republican Louis Pate of Mount Olive.