DOBSON — Republican Sarah Stevens filed for a fourth two-year term in the N.C. House of Representatives Monday, when a Democratic challenger for her seat filed as well.
Stevens had no opposition the last time she ran for re-election in 2010, but so far in 2014 the campaign has attracted one other person, Democrat John Worth Wiles of Elkin.
Wiles filed Monday at the Surry County Board of Elections, on the heels of Stevens doing so earlier in the day soon after the candidates’ filing period opened. Other House hopefuls have until Feb. 28 to register their candidacies for the 90th District House seat, which covers Surry and Wilkes counties.
Stevens, 53, a Mount Airy attorney, said Monday afternoon that she is running for re-election to continue some of the work that has been started in Raleigh, where a GOP-controlled legislature has prevailed in recent sessions.
“A lot of things are still undone,” added the incumbent, who expressed a desire to keep moving North Carolina forward, and to complete the unfinished business. “I don’t want to be here forever — I don’t want to die in office.”
As a longtime attorney, some of Stevens’ focus has been on trying to make state court operations more efficient and help it better deal with crime, through her committee and other work with the N.C. General Assembly.
“I’m also concerned about the schoolteachers and getting them raises — it looks like we’re going to have the money to do that,” Stevens said in reference to an announcement earlier in the day by Gov. Pat McCrory.
McCrory detailed a plan to increase pay for starting teachers to $36,000 over the next two years and to hike the salaries of other educators — affecting 32,000 of the state’s 95,000 teachers overall.
Wiles Seeks Change
Meanwhile, Wiles, the Democrat who filed for the 30th District House seat Monday, listed jobs, education and justice as his top concerns in seeking that position.
Wiles, 33, who has never run for public office, is employed as a programmer in the health-care field. “That has given me a lot of insights into some of the issues facing us,” the Democratic candidate said. ‘That’s a big driver behind my candidacy.”
If elected, Wiles said he also would work to return North Carolina’s public education system to prominence, contending that it has been undermined by recent actions by the General Assembly. As a result, educational standards have decreased and the state now ranks low in several key areas, the Elkin resident said.
“It’s unconscionable,” Wiles added. “Our students deserve so much better than what the current legislative environment in Raleigh has given them.”
The economy is another concern for the challenger.
“I also strongly feel that Raleigh, to a large extent, is ignoring the rural areas,” he said, and instead seems to be focusing most of its development efforts on the state’s Interstate 85 corridor. Counties such as Surry have lost out as a result, Wiles said.
“It’s no mystery to anybody we’re struggling for jobs.”
The candidate added that in general, he isn’t sure about the role of government anymore as far as being “of, by and for the people.”
“But I want to make it right,” Wiles said.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.