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Hunter wins House seat

Following in footsteps first forged by his now late father, veteran politician Howard Hunter, Jr., Hertford County Commissioner Howard Hunter III is headed to Raleigh as the Democratic Fifth District state representative in the North Carolina General Assembly.

Hunter was elected to his first term in Tuesday’s general election with more than 68.5 percent of the vote over challenger Sidney Pierce III of Gatesville.

According to the unofficial vote totals, Hunter was named on 14,375 ballots while Pierce collected 6,603 votes.

Hunter, who served three terms as a county commissioner and one year as president of the state Association of County Commissioners in 2012, thanked the voters in the district, which encompasses all of Bertie, Hertford, Gates, and a portion of Pasquotank.

“I want to thank the voters in the district,” Hunter said in a telephone interview Wednesday following the election. “Of course I have to thank my wife, my campaign manager, Oliver Holley, the poll workers, my fellow Board of Commissioner members, and my County Manager, among others.  I have heard you, and I am ready to serve.”

Hunter topped the balloting in all four counties: Bertie (4,194-1,992); Gates (1,737-1,563); Hertford (4,834-1,467); and Pasquotank (3,610-1,581).

Of the 41 total precincts within House District 5, Hunter was the preferred candidate in 32.

While he has no set agenda when the General Assembly re-convenes in 2015, he does have some ideas of what he’d like to do in Raleigh.

“I’m going there to try to bring better infrastructure to the district,” he said. “I’m particularly interested in our roads: we need to finish four-laning US 158 all the way to Interstate 95, and NC Highway 11 four-laned to US 64.  I really think this will help the district grow.”

Hunter will be in the minority party in Raleigh, and already there have to be whispers of the “C” word: compromise.

“I’ve been doing compromise since I began serving as a commissioner,” the representative-elect stated. “I’m non-partisan on that level because it’s not about Democrats, Republicans, or Tea-Party members.  It’s about the citizens. I’m going to Raleigh with that same mentality.”

“I’ve reached across the aisle,” he continued. “I’ve politicked with Republicans and Democrats, so I have no problem trying to reach.  I won’t be a straight party voter.  I’ll be voting for what’s best for eastern North Carolina and the entire state of North Carolina.”

Hunter says he’d like to advocate better pay for state employees, including teachers; but he hopes his Raleigh agenda will be multi-faceted.

His father represented District 5 in the NC House of Representatives for nearly 20 years.