Monday, February 05, 2018

Two NC Senate Races to Watch

Harper Peterson, running in the 9th NC Senate District
The 9th Senate District includes most of Wilmington and the coastal towns of Kure Beach, Carolina Beach, and Wrightsville Beach.
Harper Peterson
Incumbent Republican: Michael Lee was first appointed to the chamber in 2014 to fill out the term of Thom Goolsby. He was elected in his own right in the fall of 2014 and reelected in 2016. He's a lawyer. He's young. As far as we can tell, he's never bucked his boss Phil Berger, falling into line with the Republican Senate leader on every issue, which means that Lee must own the weak response to the pollution of drinking water in the Cape Fear River (the chemical, known as GenX, was found to be coming from a DuPont spin-off business, Chemours, which covered up the contamination from down-stream drinking-water intakes). So far the General Assembly (and certainly Phil Berger's Senate) has been weak in seeking redress, failing to recommend or legislate more money so that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) can increase enforcement. Phil Berger (and his soldier Michael Lee) don't like environmental rules nor their enforcement.
Democrat Harper Peterson has been a leader in the reaction to the GenX pollution crisis and helped start the community watchdog group Clean Cape Fear. He's also a former mayor of Wilmington and city councilman. He announced that he was running for this seat back last September. He says, "Unfortunately, in recent years, the basic needs and guaranteed rights of North Carolinians have taken a backseat to the interests of politicians and their big donors. Specifically, they have spread distrust among North Carolinians while trading to their donors our excellent public schools, quality healthcare and natural resources for tax giveaways. The games at our expense have to stop. I now have the time and energy and the full support of my family and friends to serve and be a voice for common sense in our state legislature." Peterson is critical of current Republican legislative priorities: "Too many of our representatives ignored the governor’s request for $2.6 million in emergency funds for the Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health and Human Services to vigorously address GenX and other cancer-causing compounds that have been dumped into our river. Additionally, tax giveaways to corporate interests have been paid for through slashed budgets and staffing for the state agencies who could have been proactive in defending us from this poison in our water." He also wants to bring back the film industry, which the General Assembly essentially ran out of North Carolina in one of its budget bills.

Naveed Aziz, running in the 19th NC Senate District
Damned if I know exactly what Senate District 19 includes under the special master's redrawn maps, but suffice it to say ... Cumberland County and probably much of Fayetteville. Beyond that, I'm not entirely sure.
Naveed Aziz

Republican incumbent: Wesley Meredith ran a landscaping business after retiring from the Army as a sergeant. He first entered the chamber in 2010 as part of the Tea Party wave, winning by a small margin of 1,000 votes. He's improved his winning margin over Democratic opponents in every subsequent reelection campaign, getting over 56% of the vote in 2016. After that most recent election, he was named by Senate Republicans as majority whip. Meredith's past campaigns have had a way of turning ugly. During a Fayetteville City Council election in 2003, charges were made that Meredith was involved in voter fraud, and in his 2010 NC Senate race (against Democrat Margaret Dickson) one of Meredith's tv ads implied that Dickson was a prostitute. In his 2014 reelection, his ex-wife spilled the beans that back in the 1990s the couple had gotten Medicaid assistance for their son for which they were ineligible (the couple’s annual income in those years was far higher than the maximum allowed). 
Democrat Naveed Aziz is a Cumberland County physician. She ran for a different senate seat in 2016, entering the Democratic primary against incumbent Senator Ben Clark. She lost and there was an official complaint that she didn't actually live in the district (a complaint that was dismissed). If she wins this election, Dr. Aziz would be only the second Muslim elected to the NC General Assembly and the first Muslim woman to serve in the legislature. Dr. Aziz is originally from Pakistan and immigrated to the United States more than 20 years ago. She has served on the Boards of Fayetteville Urban Ministries and Second Harvest Food Bank, chaired the Greater Spring Lake Chamber of Commerce, and served on Spring Lake’s Economic Development Committee. In addition to being a physician, she has dual masters degrees in Business Administration and Health Administration. Dr. Aziz runs a Free Clinic and a Free Food Program in Spring Lake, in addition to managing her medical practice. Gov. Roy Cooper recently appointed her to the North Carolina Youth Advisory Council.

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