Here are three more new Democratic candidates who have announced their campaigns this week. They deserve our appreciation! And our support.
Lowell Simon, running in the 52nd NC House District
The 52nd District takes in part of Moore County including the towns of Aberdeen, Southern Pines, Pinehurst, and Whispering Pines.
Incumbent Republican: James ("Jamie") L. Boles Jr. was first elected to the House in 2008 and currently serves as deputy majority whip. He is a funeral home owner and was criticized in 2015 for introducing a bill in the House that would benefit funeral home owners. Internal disputes inside the Moore County Republican Party, largely between country club and Tea Party factions, can get vicious, and Boles has been regularly sneered at as insufficiently conservative. Boles was a major recipient of American Petroleum Institute money in 2014 around the time the General Assembly was opening the state up to fracking. Boles is susceptible to the charge of political corruption in other areas, as he pushed a sweetheart rezoning into a "local bill" for an out-of-county developer. In other words, the man has a record. He's also not even had Democratic opposition in the last three general elections.
Democrat Lowell Simon became this week the first Democrat to run for this seat in ten years. He is a recently retired high school math teacher, a profession he came to late in his career after many years in business. First in New York state and then in North Carolina, he managed chains of convenience stores. He was vice president of operations for Quick Chek, a chain of about 30 convenience stores based in Troy, which brought him and his family to Seven Lakes to live. He later bought into Southern Pines based Fuel Mate, which had six BP stores. During his time teaching math at Union Pines High School, the superintendent tapped him to start an entrepreneurship program for students. "Simon has served on the boards of Philip Morris, RJ Reynolds and the North Carolina Council on the Holocaust. A political appointee of three different state House speakers from both parties, he has helped draft key legislation, including the formation of the NC Lottery .... He currently serves on the boards of Moore Regional Hospital and Moore Forward, and is president emeritus of the Sandhills Jewish Congregation."
Simon doesn't yet have an on-line fundraising ability, but he has a mailing address.
Ashton Clemmons, running in the 57th NC House District
The 57th includes a portion of Guilford County and much of the city of Greensboro, but which district map will be in use in November is currently anybody's guess.
Incumbent Republican: John Blust is a high-profile (and sometimes "mavericky") member and has held his House seat (which used to be District 62 and is now District 57) since 2001. He had previously won a seat in the NC Senate but soon lost that to Kay Hagan. He says he was recruited in 2000 by the Republican leadership to run against a less-conservative incumbent Republican House member, so he has a reputation as a doctrinaire conservative (but he has criticized the high-handed methods of the Republican leadership after the Republicans took control of everything in 2013). In 2016 he jumped into the very crowded Republican primary for the newly formed 13th US Congressional District, and after he was eliminated in the March primary, he went on to run for reelection to his House seat. He's the brother of Watauga County perennial candidate and sometimes county commissioner David Blust.
Democrat Ashton Clemmons is a career educator and current assistant superintendent of the Thomasville City Schools. She announced her candidacy back early in December. Clemmons was born in Alamance County and graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill as a NC Teaching Fellow. She was a classroom teacher in Durham and Guilford counties and went on to earn a Master’s in School Leadership from Harvard University. She then served as principal of schools in Rockingham and Guilford counties, where she led the turn-around of one of the state’s lowest performing schools before becoming assistant superintendent in Thomasville. She was selected as one of the Triad Business Journal’s “40 Leaders under 40” and has also been honored by the United Way with its Human Rights Advocate award. She says, “As an educator, mother and lifelong North Carolinian, I believe that our state owes every child a chance at success, and strong public schools are the foundation of that promise. The North Carolina I grew up in led the South in keeping that promise, and I see the progress slipping away. North Carolina deserves leaders who will join together to take our state forward — improving schools, expanding job opportunities, protecting our environment and ensuring basic rights, including fair voting districts and laws.”
If you would like to contribute to the Ashton Clemmons campaign, here's the on-line tool.
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