02/08/12 — Bell makes N.C. House candidacy official

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Bell makes N.C. House candidacy official

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 8, 2012 1:46 PM

John Bell IV made official Tuesday his intention to seek the state House District 10 seat. While no announcement has been made by the incumbent Republican Rep. Stephen LaRoque of Kinston, Bell said he fully expects him to seek re-election, setting up a May 8 primary.

Speaking to about two dozen supporters and media representatives at the Kinston visitor's center Tuesday, Bell emphasized that if elected his focus would be on three things -- strengthening eastern North Carolina's voice in Raleigh, improving the region's infrastructure and getting back to basics in the classroom.

In terms of education, he said he doesn't want to see any cuts in the classroom, but he believes there are other areas where budgets can be tightened and money reallocated. He said he wants to give local districts the ability to remove teachers who aren't doing the job, while allowing the other "teachers to teach." He also said he wants to strengthen the focus of the community colleges on vocational training and preparing people to enter the work force directly.

But infrastructure, he said, is the only way eastern North Carolina will be able to attract new jobs and compete, not only with the areas around the Triangle, Triad and Charlotte, but also on a national and global scale.

"We've got a great work force. We've got a great way of life. Eastern North Carolina is just lagging in infrastructure," he said.

And the key to making that leap, he explained, is to improve the state's ports, particular in Morehead City.

However, he continued, the only way to do that is if eastern North Carolina has a voice in Raleigh -- something he believes he can help strengthen.

"We need a representative who will represent the people -- not somebody who will go up there and work for their friends and their personal agendas," Bell said. "We need somebody who can not only work with the members of their party, but who can also reach across the aisle and help create a strong voice for eastern North Carolina."

The married 32-year-old manager of sales and business development at the North Carolina Community Federal Credit Union did not mention LaRoque's recent legal troubles -- a recently opened investigation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture into LaRoque's management of two Kinston-based economic development nonprofit agencies -- but chose instead to focus on his own campaign.

"I'm a product of what makes eastern North Carolina special," said Bell, a Mount Olive native and Rosewood resident. "I know what it's like to barn tobacco in 100-degree weather. I know what it's like to raise money for the Boy Scouts. I know what it's like to help a small business get a loan. I know what it's like to help somebody get their first car. I know what it's like to help somebody put the pieces back together after losing their job.

"It's been fun being the guy in the back of the room (helping manage other political campaigns, including those for Rep. Efton Sager and Sen. Louis Pate). But I think the direction the General Assembly has gone in the last couple of years (with GOP control) is the right way to go, I want to be part of that."