LUMBERTON — Eighteen candidates stepped forward on Monday as the two-week filing period began for the May primary.
Included were the incumbent sheriff and a second-time challenger for that office; two challengers and an incumbent for the county Board of Commissioners, the incumbent clerk of court and a challenger; four candidates, including two incumbents, for the Public Schools of Robeson County Board of Education; six candidates for the General Assembly; and an incumbent for the 8th District in the U.S. House.
Robeson County Sheriff Ken Sealey and challenger Lennis Watts both filed as candidates in the Democratic primary for sheriff. Sealey did not provide The Robesonian with any information.
Watts, a former Robeson County commissioner, was defeated by Sealey four years ago in a close primary. He is a 25-year veteran of law enforcement.
Watts began his law enforcement career with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and finished it with his retirement from the state Highway Patrol. He served 12 years in the U.S. Air Force, including two tours in Vietnam.
“As your sheriff I will begin the implementation of organized and structured efforts to combat violent crime, drug abuse and breaking and entering that plague our county,” he said in a statement. “… We should remember that crime has a direct bearing on the economic development in our communities as well as the educational impact upon our most precious children and our school system as a whole.”
Faline Locklear Dial, of Prospect, filed as a candidate in the Democratic primary for county commissioner in District 4. The District 4 seat is currently held by Noah Woods, the board’s chairman.
Dial, a speech-language pathologist for 20 years, has owned Speech N Progress Inc. for 10 years.
“My desire to serve as county commissioner stems from both a professional and personal level as a small business owner and a mother,” she said in a statement. “I feel it is time for a change in perspective which is focused on my core values of faith, service and honesty. District 4 needs new leadership that is transparent and concentrates on putting people first.”
Dial is a graduate of West Robeson Senior High School. She holds a bachelor of science degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master of science degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from East Carolina University.
She is a member and church accountant at Mt. Elim Baptist Church, and a member of the Pembroke Area Chamber of Commerce board. She serves as secretary/treasurer of the N.C. Commission of Indian Affairs, and is a member of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke Chancellor’s Club.
Filing Monday as a commissioner candidate for District 2 was former Commissioner Berlester Campbell, a Democrat from Fairmont. The District 2 seat is held by Hubert Sealey.
“I make five promises to you and will keep these promises,” Campbell said in a statement. “When you elect me I will be honest, dependable, approachable, responsible, and the stipend that the county pays, if continued, will be donated to a nonprofit ….”
Campbell graduated from Proctorville High School in 1965 and attended Central Carolina in Sanford and Robeson Technical Institute. He served three years in the U.S. Army, including two in Vietnam.
Campbell served as a Robeson County commissioner for 10 years, and as a member of the Robeson County school board for four years.
Campbell is a member of Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He also is a member and deacon of Antioch Baptist Church in Proctorville; a member and past master of Gaza Lodge No. 427, Fairmont; a member and past potentate of Ouda Temple, Maxton; a member of Royal Arch, Lumberton; a member Royal Select, Lumberton; a member of Knight’s Templar, Lumberton; and a member of Queen of Hope Chapter No. 5221-A1-Fairmont.
Sealey filed Monday, but did not provide The Robesonian with any biographical information.
Clerk of court
Two candidates filed for of Clerk of Superior Court, including incumbent Shelena Smith, who was appointed last year by Superior Court Judge Robert F. Floyd. A lifelong resident of the county, she is a licensed attorney who has worked in the legal field for 20 years.
“I am committed to providing efficient and courteous service, and maintaining court records in an unbiased safe and secure manner, ensuring equal justice for all,” Smith said in a statement. “My education and professional experience provide me with the qualities necessary to continue to serve Robeson County citizens well as the Clerk of Superior Court.”
After graduating from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a bachelor of arts degree in Criminal Justice, Smith worked with the N.C. Division of Prisons and then served as a parole and probation officer with the N.C. Division of Community Corrections.
Smith received her law degree from N.C. Central School of Law in 2005. She worked with the county’s Public Defenders Office before co-founding the law firm of Smith & Graham LLP.
Smith is a member of the N.C. State Bar; the Robeson County Bar Association; the N.C. Bar Association; Legal Aid of of North Carolina Advisory Council; and the Business and Professional Women of North Carolina. She attends Harper’s Ferry Baptist Church.
Smith is the wife of Steven Earl Jones.
Wixie Stephens is making her first run for elected office. She worked for 18 years in the Clerk of Superior Court office in Wayne County and owns United Professional Services Insurance Company and Consulting Agency.
“I have 18 years experience working in the courts, and I believe my expertise and knowledge will be an asset to the citizens of Robeson County,” she said. “My intent is that any citizen who comes into the clerk’s office will receive the professional services they need.”
Stephens has a bachelor of arts degree in Political Science from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
Stephens is a member of First Baptist Church in Lumberton, where she serves as chairman of the trustees.
Stephens’ civic affiliations include being a member of the Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Lambda Eta Zeta chapter; chairman of First Baptist Homes Housing Inc.; chairman of Senior Care Connection Inc.; and secretary for Seed Harvest Development Inc.
She has been honored by the Goldsboro Business and Professional Women’s Club as its Woman of the Year.
In races for seats on the Public Schools of Robeson County Board of Education, which are non-partisan and will be decided on May 6, Effie Nicholson McEachin has filed as a candidate for District 2, a seat currently held by Brenda Fairley Ferebee, incumbent Severeo Kerns and challenger Brenda L. Locklear have filed as candidates for District 3, and incumbent Mike Smith filed for re-election in District 6.
McEachin, of Maxton, is a retired educator, serving as a substitute teacher, teacher’s assistant and classroom teacher in schools throughout Robeson County. At Townsend Middle School, where was once Teacher of the Year.
“… I’d like to work with the board to help improve the future of our home county by producing more graduates who will be able to get jobs and improve their quality of life,” McEachin said in a statement. “Our children must be able to read, write and articulate so that they can be competitive in today’s job market.”
McEachin is a graduate of R.B. Dean and St. Augustine’s College and is a member of St. George United Methodist Church. She is married to James McEachin Jr. and has two sons, Brent and Mark.
Locklear, the District 3 candidate, is a native of Robeson County who lives in Shannon. She was employed by the Public Schools of Robeson County for more than 38 years.
Locklear served as a library and classroom assistant before beginning her teaching career at Parkton and Rex-Rennert. During her tenure at Rex-Rennert she served as lead teacher, chairperson of the school improvement team, and assistant principal. She was a member of the Robeson County Association of Educators and North Carolina Association of Educators.
Locklear also was employed by Robeson Community College as an adult basic education teacher.
“If parents, the schools, and myself work together, I believe our children can be successful students,” she said in a statement. “I want to get parental involvement back in the schools.”
Locklear received a degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Sociology from Fayetteville State University.
Locklear and her husband Eddie have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Neither Kerns nor Mike Smith provided information to The Robesonian.
One Democrat and a Republican filed as candidates for the state Senate District 13 seat now held by Sen. Michael Walters, a Democrat who announced last month that he is not seeking re-election. District 13 includes both Robeson and Columbus counties.
The Democrat, Jane Smith, of Lumberton, is seeking her first public office. She is a former owner and manager of Century 21 — The Real Estate Center in Lumberton. Before opening her real estate business, she taught history in the public schools and at Robeson Community College.
Since 1993, Smith has served as a board member of the Elizabethtown-based Southeastern North Carolina Regional Economic Development Commission, serving as the board’s chairman for the past 13 years. She also is a past chairman of the North Carolina Partnership for Economic Development and North Carolina Economic Development Group.
“My goals for serving in the N.C. Senate are to strengthen our education system, focus on job creation through strong economic development organizations, and promote and protect business and agriculture,” Smith said in a statement. “My goals also include making sure rural counties receive their fair share and do not fall further behind.”
Smith received The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest civilian award, in 1979.
Smith sits on the board of directors for COMtech, and is currently a member of the Lumberton Housing Authority board of directors and the board for BB&T.
Among other civic activities, Smith has served as a board member and president of the Lumberton Area Chamber of Commerce; served on the Southeastern Biotechnology Advisory Board; served as chairman of the Lumberton All-America City campaign; was a UNCP Endowment Board member; and is a member of the Lumberton Rotary Club.
The Republican candidate, Wallace Bernard White, Jr. ran unsuccessfully for the District 13 two years ago against Walters.
White, of Chadbourn, owns Advanced Computing. He graduated from UNC-Wilmington in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in Marine Biology.
“I’m running for the Senate again because I still believe we can do great things. Nothing has changed, I still plan to open those floodgates held closed for decades,” White said in a statement. “Together we’ll lessen the burden and bureaucracy for small businesses and taxpayers alike, we’ll promote job growth and greater prosperity for all.”
All four state House incumbents filed for re-election. They are all Democrats.
Charles Graham, a Democrat whose entire District 47 lies within Robeson County, is seeking his third two-year term. A Lumberton resident, he plans to continue his efforts in the General Assembly to strengthen public education, provide support for educators, seniors and retirees, the disabled and working families.
“Working with our Department of Commerce to promote business opportunities creating needed jobs within Robeson County continues to be an important part of our legislative agenda in another term,” he said in a statement. “We’ve had success recently in the county, (but) much more is needed to reduce unemployment and poverty.”
Graham is the chairman of the Joint Legislative American Indian Affairs Caucus. He is a retired educator, having worked for the Public Schools of Robeson County for 31 years. He also has been a business owner for 16 years.
Garland Pierce, of Scotland County, is seeking his sixth two-year term representing District 48.
“… I understand that North Carolina’s economic recovery depends upon producing more jobs and an educated workforce capable of competing in a 21st century global economy,” Pierce said. “I have championed investment in technical education and workforce training programs because they not only assist in putting North Carolinians back to work, but also create a business friendly environment in which companies want to invest.”
Pierce is pastor of Bright Hopewell Baptist Church in Laurinburg. He retired from the United Parcel Service and served in the United States Army.
Pierce serves on the Appropriations, Commerce and Jobs Development and Health Human Services Committee. In 2013, he was elected as chairman of the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus.
Ken Waddell, a Democrat and a former mayor of Chadbourn, is seeking re-election to his second two-year term representing District 46. District 46 encompasses Columbus County and parts of Robeson and Bladen counties.
“I’m running for a second term because a couple of years just doesn’t give enough time to do what’s needed for constituents,” Waddell said. “I want to go back to Raleigh to see that public education gets funded again. I also want to see that pre-kindergarten and underprivileged young children get the education they need. It’s important to meet their needs early in life rather than paying for it later in life when it costs more.”
Waddell served 25 years as a member of Chadbourn’s town council and mayor. He is a farmer and taught agricultural education for 31 years.
Ken Goodman, a Democrat from Rockingham whose District 66 represents a small part of Robeson County, including Parkton, Lumber Bridge and St. Pauls, is seeking his third two-year term. District 66 also includes parts of Richmond, Hoke, Scotland and Montgomery counties.
“We have to set a path to prosperity for North Carolina,” Goodman said in a statement. “You don’t build a better state, a stronger economy when you are defunding public education and ignoring the needs of our state’s teachers.
“A lot of workers in our part of the state have no jobs,” he said. “I want to create a better environment for job creation …We also need to improve our infrastructure of all kinds.”
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, whose District 8 includes most of Robeson County, filed Monday for his second two-year term. Hudson is considered one of the most conservative members of Congress.
“I am running for re-election to continue the fight against failed policies like Obamacare and to push for commonsense solutions in Congress like a balanced budget amendment and real job creation,” Hudson said in a statement. “Now more than ever, we need conservative leaders who will stand up against Washington’s big-government agenda and put power back into the hands of the American people.”