Race to Raleigh

Published 6:54 am Monday, April 21, 2014

Annie Mobley watches the crowd while Howard Hunter III studies his notes at last week's political forum at Bertie Middle School. The two candidates are facing each other in the May 6 Democratic Primary for the NC House 5th District seat currently held by Mobley. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Annie Mobley watches the crowd while Howard Hunter III studies his notes at last week’s political forum at Bertie Middle School. The two candidates are facing each other in the May 6 Democratic Primary for the NC House 5th District seat currently held by Mobley. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

WINDSOR – Howard Hunter III wants something that his now late father took pride in holding for nearly 20 years.

Annie Ward Mobley wants to maintain possession of what her political rival seeks.

Come early May, one of the two will move one step closer in fulfilling their wish to represent the 5th District in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Mobley, a three-term House incumbent from Ahoskie, and Hunter, whose family is deep rooted in politics, including his own 10 years as a Hertford County Commissioner, will square off in the May 6th Democratic Primary. The winner moves on to face Republican challenger Sidney Pierce III of Gates County in November’s General Election.

House District 5 represents all of Bertie, Gates and Hertford counties and a portion of Pasquotank.

The two Democratic challengers courted voters last week during a political forum hosted by the Bertie County African American Caucus, held at Bertie Middle School.

“I have been leadership that you can count on,” said Mobley at the forum. “I have been working on your behalf for the past eight years, serving on numerous committees, and I appreciate the fact that you have sent me back each time I have run.”

Mobley stressed the importance of “holding what we have.”

“We don’t need to change anything,” she stressed. “It’s important that we have all developed relationships; we worked together. When we return to Raleigh for the upcoming short session, I want convince our colleagues across the aisle (the Republicans) that it’s time we start working together. It doesn’t make sense to keep tearing down our educational system. It doesn’t make sense to keep cutting the programs we have out there. And I promise you that when I return to the House, I will do all I can and continue to work in the best interest of rural northeastern North Carolina.”

Hunter cited his political experience, both on the local level as a three-term member of the Hertford County Commissioners as well as the immediate past President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners. He also boasted of his professional business career, continuing a family legacy as owner of three funeral homes (two in Hertford County; one in Gates County).

“I have the experience to make sure that the voices of the citizens are heard,” Hunter said of his political expertise. “As President of the Association, I worked with legislators, governors and local elected officials, regardless of their political affiliation, whether they were from urban or rural areas, from the eastern or western part of the state….I worked with them to better all of our communities.”

Hunter said he was seeking the House seat to, “give our district a voice.”

“I will focus my attention on infrastructure improvement; ensuring all our children receive a sound education; better pay for all teachers, all teachers, not just some; and better pay for our public safety officers,” Hunter noted as campaign promises. “I also want to do more for healthcare, senior citizens and economic development.”

Hunter’s family is deep-rooted in politics. He said his father, Howard Jr., served nine terms in the NC House and was elected to a 10th term, but passed away on Jan. 7, 2007 before the new legislature convened. His grandfather was the first black member of the board of education; and had an uncle that served on the Ahoskie Town Council. On his mother’s side in Mississippi, an uncle served 20-plus years as a municipal mayor; a cousin was elected to the US House of Representatives; and an uncle that served as the first black Congressman from Mississippi since the Reconstruction era. He said that uncle went on to serve as Secretary of Agriculture under President Bill Clinton.

“Having said all that, I want you to know that I stand on my own two feet as an elected official,” Hunter remarked.

During the Q&A portion of last week’s forum, both candidates were asked one question….is there a single issue you will focus on, and why?

Mobley’s response was increasing the current age-status that separates young teens from being treated as adults in a court of law.

“I use to work in the court system with youth and one of my greatest concerns, then and now, was the age limits placed upon our youth when they face prosecution,” Mobley said. “At age 16 they are charged as adults. One of the bills I plan to work on when I return, and I’ve already started on it and want to see it to the end, is working across the aisle with a young lady and we want to raise the age to at least 18, eventually. Right now we want to move it to from age 16 to 17 and then in the next year from 17 to 18.”

Mobley said she was basing this issue on a report from a child psychologist that said the brain of a young person is not fully developed at least until the age of 25.

Hunter said his priorities focus on infrastructure development.

“Once you have that, economic development isn’t far behind,” he stressed. “Roads that connect us to US 64 and I-95 will allow us to thrive. Right now we’re seeing a part of US 158 being widened….the same for a portion of US 13, but the governor wants to divert the funds for the other portions of those two projects to a project for I-77 (in the western piedmont area of the state).

“We need to thrive here in the east; the major (highway) money goes to Wake, Mecklenburg, Guilford and Forsyth (counties); we need good roads to connect us to the rest of the state,” Hunter added.

In closing, Mobley again reminded voters of her experience in Raleigh over the past eight years.

“I commit to you that I will work even harder to try and make a difference,” she said. “There are 120 (representatives) in the House and I have just one vote. But what counts is being able to move legislation with the assistance of those across the aisle. It’s difficult sometimes to move that legislation, but I promise you I’ll do my best to move the great state of North Carolina forward.”

Hunter also noted his experience of dealing with state government.

“I’ve walked the halls (of the General Assembly); I’ve talked with legislators and governors; I’ve worked with local elected officials all across this state and nation,” he said.


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal