04/23/08 — Local candidate gives perpective on campaign, race

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Local candidate gives perpective on campaign, race

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on April 23, 2008 1:52 PM

Stuck in a crowded field for the Democratic nomination for the state Senate District 5 seat, former Wayne Community College President Dr. Ed Wilson said this week that he expects the race to go to a second primary.

"My gut feeling is that there will be a second primary," he said. "In my opinion, they (the three candidates from Pitt County) are certainly going to split up that vote, and I have some support over there, too.

"My goal is to finish first or second in the (first) primary."

A second primary would be required if none of the six candidates was able to win more than 50 percent of the vote on May 6. If that were to happen, a runoff between the top two candidates would be held on June 24.

For now, though, Wilson is focused on continuing to push through these last two weeks -- making stops at events like the candidate forum that was held by the Wayne County Democratic Party Monday night at the Wayne Center, the Mount Olive Pickle Festival Saturday and other public and private gatherings and fundraisers.

And because the district spans most of Wayne County, all of Greene County and part of Pitt County, that means a lot of time in the car and a lot of time on the phone.

"The district is so long," Wilson said. "This is a 24/6 job. I take Sundays off."

Fortunately, he said, those hours and those miles seem to be paying off.

"I think things are going well. I've been well received across the district," he said.

And, he added, his message has been well received.

"My focus is going to be on more and better paying jobs. That's what I think the No. 1 issue is in our district," he said. "There are just not enough jobs."

But, said Wilson, a member of the Wayne County Development Alliance, it's going to take more than just asking companies to come to eastern North Carolina -- it's going to take work to improve education and infrastructure.

"I believe the No. 1 thing is a well-educated workforce," he said. "That's the No. 1 thing (companies) are looking for."

So by addressing economic development and job creation, he's hopeful that education and infrastructure improvements will follow along as a natural part of that discussion.

"I'm going to zero in on (economic development) and deal with the other issues as they come along," Wilson said. "This is not a short-term deal. It's a long-term goal. But I really do believe that if we can do that (improve economic development), it would solve a lot of the other problems in eastern North Carolina."

And, he added, because of his experience working with the legislative process through the community college system, and because retiring state Sen. John Kerr, D-Wayne, is in his corner, he thinks he can step in and immediately begin working.

"Obviously as a freshman I won't hold the same chairmanships John held, but John's going to help me and I know most of the key legislators," Wilson said. "I feel like I'll be in a position to be a little more active as a freshman."

Also running for the Democratic nomination are state Board of Education member Kathy Taft of Greenville, director of North Carolinians for Affordable Health Care Chuck Stone of Goldsboro, former state Rep. Charles Johnson for Greenville, former state Sen. Tony Moore of Greenville and Snow Hill Mayor Don Davis.