LUMBERTON — U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, who represents the state’s 8th Congressional District, made a whirlwind tour through Robeson County on Thursday, a visit meant to acquaint him with the county that he would largely represent if redistricting maps are approved as they are now.
Currently Robeson County is included in the 7th Congressional District, represented by Mike McIntyre, a Democrat from Lumberton. But new redistricting, led by the Republican majority in the state General Assembly, has removed all but a sliver of the north and northwest part of Robeson County from District 7 and put it in Kissell’s 8th District, which encompasses counties west all the way to Charlotte. Kissell is a Democrat.
“I talked with Mike yesterday, and it looks like the new (district) lines are going to stay,” Kissell said during his visit to Lumberton’s City Hall. “We’re operating under the assumption that change is coming.”
Kisell, accompanied by City Councilman John Cantey, toured the City Hall, stopping for short visits with town officials, including Mayor Ray Pennington and City Manager Wayne Horne. Kissell earlier in the day had attended an economic development meeting in Maxton and met with Lumbee tribal officials in Pembroke. After touring Lumberton and meeting behind closed doors with Cantey, he moved on to Rowland.
Kissell said that he can serve Robeson County well if re-elected in November. Currently, he has no Democratic challengers in the May primary. Several 8th District Republicans, however, have announced that they will be candidates in the GOP primary in hopes of becoming their party’s nominee.
Both Pennington and Cantey told Kissell that Lumberton needs more federal money to continue projects such as the development of Northeast Park.
“Prosperity goes across county and district lines,” Kissell told the officials. “It’s contagious … . You tell me what you want.”
Kissell said that he serves a district that includes rural areas.
“I know the needs and challenges you face,” said Kissell, who worked in the textiles industry for 27 years and was also a school teacher. “… The people I talked with today (in Robeson County) are obviously dedicated to the county and want to enhance the opportunities available to their communities.”
Cantey said that he hopes Kissell “understands” that Robeson County has lost a lot of manufacturing plants over the past several years.
“I hope he has some ideas for incentives to bring these industries back,” Cantey said.
Cantey said that he invited Kissell to Lumberton to “show him, and discuss, the needs of the city and county.”
“I hope following our meeting and discussion of his platform and agenda that I will see that he will support this portion of his district as well as Congressman McIntyre has done,” Cantey said.
McIntyre is expected to run for re-election in the 7th District. He has represented District 7 since 1996.
Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.