Jan. 18, 2012 10:57

scuttlebutt

Candidates announce for lt. gov. and nc senate

Dale Folwell, a longtime Republican state lawmaker from Winston-Salem who currently serves as speaker pro tem in the NC House, announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor during a press conference on Tuesday, with Forsyth County Sheriff Bill Schatzman, Winston- Salem/Forsyth County Schools Superintendent Don Martin and school board member Jeannie Metcalf and other supporters seated behind him.

“We’re going to be launching this campaign by talking about fixing problems,” Folwell said. “If I hear one more speech about what the problems are without a solution I think I’m going to throw up. People want their problems fixed. They don’t care how it’s done; they just want their problems fixed.

“We’re at a tipping point where we’re either going to repair what we have in North Carolina or we’re going to lose it,” Folwell added, “and I want to be part of repairing it.”

The announcement featured remarks from supporters about bills sonsored by Folwell that were signed into law and helped them address problems, including legislation that capped compensation benefits to reduce burdens on business owners, legislation that allows school districts to find out when a prospective employee has been recommended for termination in another system and legislation that provides for the forfeiture of vehicles when a criminal defendant attempts to elude arrest by speeding.

Counterbalancing his message of promoting practical solutions, Folwell espoused hard-line conservative positions on same-sex marriage and illegal immigration — stances that might alienate mainstream voters in the general election. I completely disagree with the national press who says they want us to all get along. I don’t think there’s anybody in this room who really cares if I get along with anybody. You really don’t care about my bedside manner. You want your problems fixed.”

Conservative Republican Justin Conrad, president of Libby Hill Seafood, who is seeking a seat representing the newly drawn NC Senate District 27 seat, also announced his candidacy on Tuesday. Conrad, who made his announcement at his family business’ High Point restaurant, said he is focused on the importance of small businesses.

“We understand what small business people are going through,” Conrad said in an interview. “We are the ones that are going to power us through the recession, and sometimes elected officials forget that.”

He would have pressed to cap the gas tax that the Senate recently allowed to increase, Conrad said, and is interested in making the overall tax structure more affordable for businesses.

District 27 contains Conrad’s childhood schools, business and home. He has three daughters and has been married for 11 years. Libby Hill has nine locations — eight in North Carolina, including four in Greensboro.

Conrad’s announcement was preempted on Monday by a notice on former Guilford County

Republican Party Executive Director Tony Wilkins’ blog that Trudy Wade, who currently represents District 5 on Greensboro City Council, will also seek the seat.

CITY CONSIDERING LOAN TO HELP GROCERY RELOCATE

The city of Greensboro is being asked to chip in $100,000 to help finance the food cooperative Deep Roots Market’s move from Spring Garden Street to the burgeoning northern flank of downtown. The Greensboro City Council was expected to consider a loan to help site work, including demolition, site grading and relocation of a sewer line at its Tuesday meeting. The deal provides $100,000 in city funds if developers North Eugene Partners LLC, owned by Robert S. Isner, Milton Kern and James B. Staton III, are able to assemble $2 million in funds to allow the project to go forward.

The loan may be repaid at 0 percent interest, and is forgivable after 20 years. The agreement requires Deep Roots Market to create at least five new full-time jobs above its current staffing level of 13 employees and to pay the new employees at least $12.95 per hour with benefits including paid medical insurance. City staff expect increases in property tax revenue from the project to cover the cost of the loan.

The market will be located along the future Downtown Greenway and across the street from the Greenway at Fisher Park apartments, which are currently under construction.

Everybody’s been screaming for a grocery downtown for years,” said John Shoffner, the city’s economic development manager.

“Burlington opened a co-op and it’s become a real gathering spot downtown. It became a wild success.”

GUILFORD ELECTIONS DIRECTOR CRITICIZES SPLIT PRECINCTS IN REDISTRICTING PLANS

Guilford County Elections Director George Gilbert is among four county elections employees who have filed affidavits critical of a Republican redistricting plans that increases the number of split precincts in a lawsuit challenging the plans.

“As a voter and as an official who deals with problems voters encounter, the problems with split precincts faced by voters include confusion about who their political representative is, confusion about what candidates to research, confusion about why a neighbor has different choices on his or her ballot and confusion when volunteers outside the polling place present the voter with information about candidates who are not on their ballot,” Gilbert wrote.

Some splitting of precincts is unavoidable, critics acknowledge, but Gilbert testified that the new plans increase the number of split precincts from 35 to 57, affecting about 93,000 of the 332,000 registered voters in the county.

Bob Hall, executive director of election watchdog group Democracy North Carolina, said in an affidavit that black people were more likely to live in the 563 split precincts across the state than whites, and that the splits appear to target racially mixed precincts so that blacks were generally assigned to one voting district and whites to another.

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