Republicans, Democrats duke it out in District 2 primary

Apr. 22, 2014 @ 07:34 PM

Six candidates will battle it out to see who will move onto the General Election for a chance to represent District 2 — which includes Person County and a portion of Granville County — at the state House.

Brent Groce, Ray Jeffers and Dalton L. Huff are competing for the Democratic nomination in the May 6 primary.

Larry Yarborough, Jon Greg Bass and Sandra Hendrick Berry are running in the Republican primary.

Winkie Wilkins, the current District 2 representative, decided not to run for re-election.

Groce, a resident of Roxboro, sees education and economic development as key issues in the election.

He said the state’s community colleges are major contributors to their locales, but recent state cuts in funding not only hurt the educational opportunities but also hamper economic development.

Groce said his experience as an attorney working with small businesses puts him in a position to address those concerns.

On the other hand, he said he also would like to see greater support for teachers.

Groce said he thinks his community activities have given him perspective on the needs of the area.

“I’ve been active in Jaycees and Kiwanis and Teen Court,” he said. “I saw a lack of the kinds of opportunities that I had growing up.”

Fellow Roxboro Democrat Jeffers said economic development is the biggest issue facing the state and the district. But he wants to look beyond local solutions.

His work with the Rural Action Caucus of the National Association of Counties has given him perspective on how counties like Person and Granville can use their resources.

Jeffers said economic development and vocational training go hand in hand.

“We need to use our community colleges to train our work force for the jobs we attract,” he said. “There’s no use attracting industry if workers aren’t trained to take the jobs.”

He said his experience holding an elected position will be important. He was twice elected to the Person County Board of Commissioners and is currently serving as vice-chairman.

On the state level, he is president of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

The third Democrat on the primary ballot, Huff, said the economic recovery is the biggest issue facing District 2.

He said he will fight to bring high quality jobs to the district so people who live there don’t have to commute outside their communities to work.

Huff comes from a farming family in the Corinth community south of Oxford.

“A farmer is a lot of things, including a businessman,” he said. “You deal with a lot of different kinds of people. That diversity of background makes me pretty good at explaining things to people.”

His interest in politics goes back to when he was 11 years old and continued through his time at South Granville High School and Campbell University.

The 23-year-old also said his youth is an advantage that shows him a different perspective.

Roxboro Republican Yarborough also saw jobs as the major issue facing both the state and the district.

He would use his experience as a developer of small businesses and shopping centers to help shape policies affecting job growth.

He's also worked in the corporate world. A chemical engineer by training, he has worked for Dupont, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and what is now GlaxoSmithKline.

He currently serves as a Person County commissioner and is chairman of the Roanoke River Basin Bi-state Commission, which provides guidance to local, state and federal legislative and administrative bodies on the use of the basin’s natural resources.

This is his first run for a state-level position.

“In the primary, I’m the only candidate that can beat Ray Jeffers,” he said. “I’m the most qualified of any of the six in the race.”

For his part, Bass, of Roxboro, would like to see changes in the tax system, including the elimination of the income tax.

“We need to cut corporate taxes,” he said. “When you do that, you bring in industries that hire employees who pay taxes. The corporate tax base is so high they go someplace else.”

Bass said public schools need more funding. His wife, a teacher with 41 years experience, was called out of retirement because the district couldn’t get qualified teachers; Bass said it was the result of low pay for both beginning and veteran educators.

Teachers should have more control in their classrooms, instead of being forced by federal regulations to teach to standardized tests, he said.

A retired automobile dealer, Bass has run for office four times before; he’s a conservative.

He said if he is elected, he will donate half of his salary as a representative to the community college.

Berry, of Oxford, said her platform is based on the Christian God and the Constitution; she advocates putting God back into classrooms through the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer.

She mentioned one aspect of teaching that concerns her: the lack of cursive in schools. Berry said she would champion bringing that back.

Berry said she is pro-life — for humans and animals. She’s against abortions and animal shelters that use euthanasia.

“I don’t think anyone should be able to take a life,” she said. “The one exception: if a woman’s life is critically endangered. There’s no other reason any child should be aborted.”

She said the state should help people who are on welfare but give those who are able-bodied things to do.

Berry also said she wants to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent responsibly and would fight to increase efficiency and eliminate waste.

 

Contact the writer at dirvine@hendersondispatch.com.