Thursday, February 08, 2018

More New Democratic Talent Who Will Challenge the Status Quo in 2018

Susan Maxon, running in the NC House District 109

District 109 takes in part of Gaston County.

Republican incumbent: Dana Bumgardner is a retired CEO of a commercial printing company. He's a vanilla conservative, first elected to the chamber in 2012, was unchallenged in 2014, and has never failed to get at least 60% of the vote. Naturally, Bumgardner voted against the repeal of HB2 (the notorious "bathroom bill"), and he got sarcastic with one North Carolina voter when she emailed him asking him to repeal the law. "Or what? Are you gonna huff and puff and blow the house down?” Bumgardner emailed back. He then later bragged to the Gaston Gazette that the voter "was just a little snowflake." Meeee-ow!

Susan Maxon
Democrat Susan Maxon was a military kid which brought her to eastern North Carolina, where she graduated from high school. She was a first-generation college student at East Carolina University, graduating as a biology major. She went on to graduate work in biology and joined the US Department of Agriculture for a career in seed testing. In her official capacity, she worked with seed industry and state departments of agriculture to promote truthful labeling of agricultural and vegetable seeds, provided training to seed analysts working for industry and government, represented US seed interests at the national and international level, and became the laboratory supervisor and deputy director for ten years at the Gastonia USDA facility. She retired in 2013 and ran once before for this house seat in 2016, garnering slightly less than 39% of the vote against Bumgardner. She mentions her primary concerns for North Carolina government: "The General Assembly has been neglecting our public school system, which not too long ago had been widely viewed as the best in the region. Our legislators in Raleigh have enacted tax policies that disproportionately burden working families and small businesses. And they continue to ignore the need of the most vulnerable in our state for available healthcare."

Albeiro Florez, running in the NC House District 45

District 45, in Cumberland County, wraps around the urban core of Fayetteville, keeping those more Democratic voters safely away from the Republican incumbent.

Republican incumbent: John Szoka worked in the mortgage lending industry after a career in the US Army. He retired as a lieutenant colonel. The last time he even had a Democratic opponent in a general election was in 2012, when he was first elected to the General Assembly. He describes himself as an environmentalist and an advocate for renewable energy, though it's futile finding how
Albeiro Florez
those views have influenced the Republican leadership. Plus in the same interview, he denied that global climate change is linked to human activity (particularly the burning of fossil fuels). So you figure it out: Col. Szoka isn't about to buck the generals.

Democrat Albeiro Florez is the Chief Financial and Operating Officer for Walker Florez Consulting Group. He previously served in the U.S. Army, and he currently is President of Latinos United for Progress and a Board Member of the Armed Forces YMCA. Last October, Governor Roy Cooper named him to the Governor’s Advisory Council on Hispanic/Latino Affairs. In Fayetteville he has been honored as "Young Professional of the Year" and the Fayetteville Observer featured him as one of its "40 Under 40" movers and shakers. Florez organized the first-ever Latinos United for Progress Fayetteville mayoral candidate forum last fall, forcing immigrant issues into the public debate. The Hispanic population in Cumberland County has grown, and Florez is prominent.

Leslie Cohen, running in the NC House District 20

District 20 takes in some of Wilmington and then goes up-country on both sides of I-40 to Castle Hayne and beyond, stretching to the ocean from Ogden to Bayshore.

Republican incumbent: Holly Grange was first elected to the seat in 2016 after winning a fairly nasty Republican primary in March with another Republican woman who accused her of having a cozy relationship with Sidney Blumenthal (of Hillary Clinton fame). In August, when the Republican occupying the seat went ahead and resigned from it, Grange was appointed to fill out his term. Grange faced no Democratic opposition that fall and will have her first real reelection contest this year. She was an engineer officer in the Army Corp of Engineers, serving in the 20th Engineer Brigade at Fort Bragg and on the 18th Airborne Corps staff. She married a general (who was the one who had some brief connection to Sidney Blumenthal). In an interview, Grange admitted that climate change is happening and that it is impacting sea-level rise, an issue of considerable concern for her district. Her viewpoint on that will get little credit within her Republican caucus, which has decreed that sea-level rise must not be talked about.

Leslie Cohen
Democrat Leslie Cohen moved to Wilmington from Atlanta in 2013 after their two children left the nest. She became involved in local issues here when the passage of HB2 threatened the rights of their adult children. Her activism quickly spread into other issues as she became aware of the the struggles of others in her community. She had earned a degree from Georgia State University, and fresh out of college, she started a printing business with her future husband Jeff. The printing business morphed into a successful commercial graphics company. The couple designed collateral advertising for Fortune 500 companies for twelve years before transitioning their business to fine art in 2002. Leslie’s paintings are in collections across the globe. The pollution of the Cape Fear River is a big issue for her as is restoring the incentives that built the film industry in North Carolina (the destruction of which by the Republican General Assembly drove the industry to other states like Georgia). She opposes off-shore drilling (Trump's wet dream), and she is especially disturbed at how public education has suffered under Republican rule.

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