Sen. Cook to retire in 2018

Published 5:15 pm Monday, September 4, 2017

The possibility of two incumbents, one from each major political party, squaring off next year in a newly mapped NC Senate District will not take place.

On Tuesday, District 1 State Senator Bill Cook announced he will not seek re-election in 2018.

Sen. Bill Cook

Cook, a Republican from Beaufort County, is currently serving his third term in the NC Senate. He also served one term in the NC House of Representatives.

District 1 currently encompasses Beaufort, Camden, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde, Pasquotank, and Perquimans counties. However, a court-ordered redistricting plan moves Cook’s home county (Beaufort) into District 3, currently represented by Erica Smith-Ingram, a second term Democrat from Gaston (Northampton County).

Even though that redistricting plan has been approved by both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly, it still awaits consent from the Federal Court before being implemented in time for the 2018 election cycle.

“I’ve tried to be a good servant to the people of Eastern North Carolina,” Cook said in a statement earlier this week. “However, the recent redistricting changes have prompted me to reevaluate my commitment to my family. And as much as I love the folks of Eastern North Carolina, I love my family more. I have decided to not seek another term in the State Senate. I am blessed to have a wonderful family and I need to spend more of my life with them – especially my grandchildren.”

Smith-Ingram, meanwhile, said she was “absolutely seeking reelection.”

“No matter what the district looks like pending court approval, I’ve enjoyed serving the fine people of my area of the state and I want to continue serving this newly realigned district and all of North Carolina,” Smith-Ingram said on Wednesday from Raleigh during a telephone interview with the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.

Smith-Ingram’s current Senate District (3) covers Bertie, Chowan, Edgecombe, Hertford, Martin, Northampton, Tyrrell and Washington counties. When the maps were redrawn, District 3 lost Chowan, Edgecombe, Hertford, Tyrrell and Washington counties, and added Beaufort, Vance and Warren counties.

As for her possible new constituents, pending court approval, in Beaufort, Vance and Warren, Smith-Ingram stated, “Once they get to know me they will understand my commitment and the passion to which I use to serve the citizens of northeastern and eastern North Carolina.”

She also shared her thoughts on the proposed “mega district” proposed for northeastern North Carolina. That District 1 area will cover 11 counties – Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington.

“I feel that’s too broad of an area for one person to represent,” Smith-Ingram stressed. “Look at the travel expenses alone. We only receive a $14,000 annual stipend to serve in the Senate; we do not receive any money for travel.”

Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram

She also said that proposed mega district comes with other issues.

“The person representing that area will have 11 boards of the commissioners to meet with; 11 school districts and boards of education; and 11 county Sheriffs; not to mention all the municipal government entities in that area,” Smith-Ingram noted.


Current District 1 NC House Representative Bob Steinburg, a Republican from Edenton, has expressed a desire to seek that 11-county Senate seat.

Meanwhile, Senator Cook’s supporters expressed sadness over the thought of losing his voice in Raleigh.

“Over the past six years, Bill Cook has traveled thousands of miles across all eight counties of Senate District 1, earning his reputation as one of the most engaged and responsive legislators in the General Assembly,” said Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) in a statement. “From championing a new marine aquaculture industry to helping ensure safe access to channels along the Outer Banks, Bill has advanced important priorities for the people of his district. We’ll miss Bill’s warm, accessible and affable presence in the Senate and wish him all the best in his retirement.”

First elected to the N.C. House of Representatives in 2010, Cook represented the 6th District, which included Beaufort County and a portion of Pitt County. In 2012, Cook was then elected to the State Senate, representing Beaufort, Hyde, Dare, Currituck, Camden, Gates, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties.

Cook, now 72 years of age, ousted Democratic incumbents in both the 2010 and 2012 elections. In fact, Cook became the first Republican ever elected to the State Senate representing Northeastern North Carolina and was re-elected in 2014 and 2016.

Since 2015, Cook has served as co-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Natural and Economic Resources as well as the Senate Agriculture, Natural and Economic Resources Committee. In addition to overhauling useless regulations, Cook has been a champion for family values.

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.

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