02/16/10 — Clayton mayor seeks state Senate seat

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Clayton mayor seeks state Senate seat

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 16, 2010 1:46 PM

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Jody McLeod

Clayton Mayor Jody McLeod has announced that he will run for the Democratic nomination for the state Senate District 12 seat.

McLeod, 44, who owns and operates Annie V's Florist in Clayton, was first elected to the Clayton City Council in 2000 and has served as mayor since 2004. He also serves on the Johnston County Economic Development Board and on the Johnston County Community College Foundation Board.

"For me, it was because I think having somebody in the Senate who has municipal experience, that understands the challenges and opportunities for all municipalities, in addition to being a small businessman, is important," he said. "I can also offer the citizens of District 12 a senator who's in the majority. For years and years we've had representatives who have been in the minority, and you can just get more things done when you're in the majority."

He does not believe that the dissatisfaction with Democrats on the national level will trickle down to the state elections.

"I think what's important in this Senate race is not about a Democrat versus a Republican. I'll be the first to admit that across the nation Democrats have shot themselves in the foot, but that does not reflect what's going on in this district. I'm known for being a public servant, and I think people are ready for leadership that listens and that's willing to compromise," McLeod said. "As a Main Street, small business owner, I understand the difficult times faced by the middle class and working families throughout Johnston and Wayne counties. My background in managing a small business contributed to the smart, practical way the town of Clayton approached the recession. Our responsible investments have worked to increase the presence of downtown small businesses while creating jobs in other key local industries."

In fact, he pointed to several projects, including street and sidewalk repairs, a 97 percent downtown retail occupancy rate, a new community center and improved public parks as several things he's been able to help accomplish.

And, he continued, he'll take that same creative, small business approach to the Senate that helped him spearhead the successful campaign that recently resulted in the announcement that Talecris Biotherapeutics would be building an additional $260 million facility and adding 400 new jobs over the next four years.

"I will be someone in the Senate who can really serve as a connection between the district and Department of Commerce and the various economic development offices," he said.

In addition to focusing on helping small businesses, he also said education would be one of his top priorities.

"Public education is the key to economic development," he said.

Additionally, he said he would be looking for "creative" solutions to the state's budget woes.

In the meantime, though, he acknowledged that he likely faces an "uphill battle," but said he's faced such challenges before.

"People come up to me and tell me they voted for me just to give me a chance, but that they had no idea I would do so well," he said. "I'm looking very forward to getting out into western Wayne County and letting people know who I am, about my leadership and about the tangible results we've had in Clayton for the last six years. I want people to get to know my story and I want to get to know them."

So far McLeod is the only candidate filed for the seat. Incumbent Sen. David Rouzer, R-Johnston, had not filed as of press time. State Senate District 12 covers all of Johnston and the western half of Wayne counties.