RALEIGH — As state lawmakers prepare to adjourn this week, Scotland County’s legislative delegation is already looking ahead to 2016.
State Reps. Garland Pierce and Ken Goodman have announced plans to run for re-election next year, and freshman state Sen. Tom McInnis confirmed he will seek a second term, though a formal campaign announcement is forthcoming.
Last week, both houses of the N.C. General Assembly passed a bill to move North Carolina’s general election primary from May 3 to March 15. Unless that bill is vetoed by Gov. Pat McCrory, the filing period for representatives to the N.C. General Assembly, along with candidates for other state and local offices, will begin on Dec. 1.
The county’s senior state legislator, Pierce, D-Scotland, said he hopes to serve a seventh term in the House.
“I am seeking re-election because I am committed to strengthening our economy and protecting investment in our state’s public education system,” Pierce said in a Tuesday statement. “North Carolina must produce more jobs and an educated workforce capable of competing in a 21st-century global economy. I have championed investment in technical education and workforce training programs because they not only assist in putting North Carolinians back to work, but also create a business-friendly environment in which companies want to invest.”
Pierce is chairman of the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus and a Democratic conference chairman in the House. He is vice chairman of the appropriations and homeland security, military and veterans affairs committees.
A Wagram resident, Pierce is the pastor of Bright Hopewell Baptist Church in Laurinburg and has served in the ministry for 35 years. He is a U.S. Army veteran and is retired from UPS.
“As I travel across the district visiting schools and churches, attending community events and meeting with citizens, I am aware of what an honor it is to have served the people of North Carolina House District 48 for more than a decade,” Pierce said. “I have worked across the aisle on bipartisan issues to make certain legislation is passed that positively impacts our community. I have visited with North Carolina’s congressional leaders in Washington, D.C. to ensure they are aware of the issues affecting House District 48.”
Pierce’s district includes portions of Scotland, Richmond, Hoke and Robeson counties.
Goodman, D-Richmond, was the first to throw his hat into the ring. In a Monday statement, the Rockingham businessman said he’ll push for investment in public schools and economic development in North Carolina’s rural counties if voters send him back to Raleigh for a fourth term. Goodman was unopposed in the 2014 general election.
“It has been a distinct honor to serve in the General Assembly,” Goodman said. “This past session has been by far my most productive session working in a bipartisan manner to help the citizens in this district. There remains a great deal of work in front of us. If I am re-elected to another term, I will continue working on investing in our communities, promoting job growth and supporting our public schools systems.”
Goodman is founder and chairman of the N.C. Main Street Democrats Legislative Caucus, a group of 15 moderate Democrats who seek bipartisan compromise to advance pro-business policies and grow the state’s economy. He serves as vice chairman of the House’s commerce and job development and regulatory reform committees.
“I will continue to fight for our district and serve as a voice for Main Street voters, who believe too often that the interests of rural North Carolina are ignored in Raleigh,” Goodman said.
A former Richmond County Board of Education chairman, Goodman said one of his top goals for 2016 will be securing pay increases for schoolteachers and state employees.
Goodman represents House District 66, which includes portions of Richmond, Scotland, Montgomery, Hoke and Robeson counties.
McInnis, R-Richmond, plans to announce his bid for re-election in the weeks following adjournment, legislative assistant Libby Spain said Tuesday.
McInnis is senior vice president of Rockingham-based Iron Horse Auction Co. and a former Richmond County school board member. His committee assignments include memberships on the Senate’s finance, commerce and agriculture panels.
Senate District 25 spans Richmond, Scotland and Anson counties and portions of Stanly and Rowan counties.
McInnis unseated Democrat Gene McLaurin, a first-term senator and 15-year Rockingham mayor, in the 2014 general election. McLaurin has not said whether he will try to regain the Senate seat in 2016.
“I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement to run again, but I am still just trying to decide,” McLaurin said. “I plan to make a decision very soon.”
Candidates for state legislative office file at the board of elections in their county of residence. The filing fee is 1 percent of the salary of the office sought.
Reach Editor Corey Friedman at 910-817-2670 and follow him on Twitter @corey_friedman.