election

Mount Olive Mayor Kenneth Talton, left, and Mount Olive town commissioners Barbara Kornegay and Dennis Raper, who filed for reelection to office, review paperwork Dec. 6 at the Wayne County Board of Elections.

Candidates made a bid for various offices in Wayne County during the first two days of the open filing period for the 2022 midterm elections.

Also on the first day of filing Dec. 6, no one was allowed to file for U.S. House or legislative seats. A Dec. 6 order was filed with the N.C. Court of Appeals for a temporary stay to prevent the opening of the candidate filing period pending a court’s ruling on a petition that had been filed by the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters.

The districts are the subject of litigation that argue the lines approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly last month are illegal partisan gerrymanders.

Although the defendants had until Dec. 9 to respond to the petition, it was overruled and candidates for those seats were allowed to begin filing Dec. 7.

Ann Risku, director of elections for Wayne County, said Dec. 6 was a relatively busy day for filing between noon and 1 p.m.

“After that, we haven’t had any additions,” she said. “It’s actually been kind of slow with the exception of the 12 p.m. time period.”

At the end of that first day, 10 people had filed for local offices.

Three of those were vying for offices in Mount Olive. Mount Olive will hold a municipal election March 8, the same day as the primary.

The town, which was set to have its election in November, was delayed due to possible redistricting.

Mount Olive Mayor Kenneth Talton, who has served for two years, filed for reelection to office.

“I think I have a passion for public service,” said Talton, 50. “I love my hometown. It’s where I grew up.

“I’ve always served in an official public capacity, whether it’s been a town code enforcement official for the town of Mount Olive or currently as I serve as the interim director for the city of Goldsboro’s planning department.”

Talton said he enjoys helping make a difference in his community and he likes helping improve the lives of the people he serves.

“That’s why I serve,” Talton said.

If re-elected, his primary concern will be completing renovation and rehabilitation of the town’s wastewater treatment plant. The city is currently under a sewer moratorium.

Also filing Dec. 6 for District 3 town commissioner was 75-year-old Barbara Ross Kornegay, who filled an unexpired term for a previous commissioner and is completing her third term.

“We’d like to get our town off of the moratorium so that we can actually add businesses and homes and promote the economic development of our town,” Kornegay said. “We really cannot do that now because our sewer capacity is just not there.”

She said she wants to see that project through.

Dennis Raper, 78, also filed Dec. 6 for District 4 of the Mount Olive commissioners, having already served four years.

He said the mayor and commissioners need to do everything possible to get off the moratorium.

“It’s been a steep learning curve,” Raper said. “How many of us know about sewage plants? There are a lot of issues, and we’ve had to learn. If there have been mistakes earlier in time, we’re hoping that we have learned from them. We’re hoping that what we’re doing now will be in place for years to come, I hope.”

Among filers on Dec. 7 was Joseph Democko, who resigned from the Wayne County Board of Education on Oct. 1 to take care of his ailing mother in New York. His four-year term was due to be up in 2022. Craig Foucht was appointed to serve the remainder of Democko’s term as District 5 representative in October.

Democko, a LaGrange Republican, planned to file for the state Senate District 4 seat on Dec. 6 but, because of the Dec. 6 order, filed Dec. 7 instead.

Buck Newton, a Wilson Republican and former state Senator, also filed for the newly redrawn Senate District 4 seat, which includes Wayne, Wilson and Greene counties.

Newton announced plans to seek a return to the Senate on Nov. 29.

Newton served in the Senate from 2011 until 2016 representing District 11. He was the Republican nominee for state attorney general in 2016, losing to Democrat Josh Stein.

“Serving the citizens of Eastern North Carolina was the honor of a lifetime,” Newton said. “We got a lot done in my six years in the state Senate: cutting taxes, balancing the budget, and helping small businesses get back to creating jobs.

“But there is so much more to do. Folks are worried about their jobs, inflation, government overreach by Joe Biden and Roy Cooper, and never-ending ‘states of emergency.’ If the voters send me to Raleigh, I will fight to rein in government, expand school choice and educational freedom, and create jobs for Eastern North Carolina.”

Also filing for reelection Dec. 6 were several members of the Mount Olive town board including incumbent Steve Wiggins for the at-large seat, incumbent Vicky Darden for the District 1 seat and incumbent Harlie Carmichael for the District 2 seat.

Wayne County Sheriff Larry Pierce, a Republican, filed for reelection and is seeking his third four-year term in office.

Wade Leatham, who was appointed to the Wayne County Board of Education District 6 seat, filed for election to retain his seat on the board. Leatham will be challenged in the nonpartisan race by Philip French, who also filed for election Dec. 6.

Andrew Steadman filed for the Wayne County Board of Education District 1 seat, currently held by Chris West.

Robin Aycock, a Democrat, filed as a candidate for Wayne County clerk of Superior Court.

The election filing period continues until noon Dec. 17, with the 2022 primary set for March 8 and the general election on Nov. 8.

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