Again, lots to talk about this week. Let’s start with the Republican Party primary for the District 26 seat in the N.C. House of Representatives.
After Tony Braswell lost, more than one observer said Johnston’s business community punished the county commissioner at the polls for telling CSX to build its job-creating cargo-container hub elsewhere.
Maybe, but if that were the case, it stands to reason that Johnston voters would have punished Larry Strickland for leading a school a board that appears complicit in helping retired superintendent Ed Croom fatten his pension.
A just-as-plausible explanation is that Strickland won because of the endorsement he received from retiring District 28 Rep. J.H. Langdon Jr. Braswell lost to Strickland by 887 votes. Nearly half of those votes were in Pleasant Grove Township, where Mr. Langdon make his home.
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The third candidate in that race was not a factor. Political newcomer Gregory Dail captured 857 votes, meaning Mr. Braswell would have needed all of Mr. Dail’s votes and 30 more just to tie Mr. Strickland.
No doubt, some Johnston voters rejected Mr. Braswell because he and his fellow commissioners rejected CSX. But he lost because Mr. Langdon, a highly respected lawmaker, endorsed his opponent.
To his credit, Mr. Braswell, in an email, acknowledged what everyone knew about the District 28 race: It was a bitter battle fought with half-truths.
“I do not think either one of us should be proud of the … directions of either campaign,” he said. “And for my part, I apologize to the citizens for allowing it to get to that level. I would encourage all candidates, all political parties, to give the voters the opportunity to learn about the issues … instead of what we saw in this race.”
We can only hope Mr. Strickland feels the same way.
No to dynasties?
Speaking of the election, we were surprised that Larry Wood so easily won the GOP nomination for the District 4 seat on the Johnston County Board of Commissioners. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been.
When Republican County Commissioner Wade Stewart died while in office, the Johnston GOP chose his son, Chad Stewart, to succeed him. But the decision, we understand, was far from unanimous, with many in the party opposed to naming the son to replace the father.
Perhaps that sentiment decided the outcome of this year’s District 4 GOP primary. Mr. Wood’s opponent, DeVan Barbour IV, is the son of retiring County Commissioner DeVan Barbour III. The elder Barbour has been a good county commissioner – and a good school board member and Town of Benson commissioner before that. If the younger Barbour is half the man his father is, he would have made a good county commissioner.
But it would appear that Republican voters in Johnston County don’t want family dynasties on their elected boards.
New roof or paint?
If you live or work in Smithfield, you have no doubt seen the fine work taking place on West Market Street from the Neuse River bridge to Wilson’s Mills Road. The N.C. Department of Transportation, with the full support of the town and property owners, is laying concrete driveway cuts and preparing the ground behind those cuts for landscaping when the weather is right. We’re certain it will look great when completed.
But the DOT’s fine work will do nothing to improve the buildings behind the landscaping – a long-empty convenience store, for one, and any number of mobile homes-turned-offices for used-car lots.
Then again, that is often Smithfield’s modus operandi, the equivalent of slapping a new coat of paint on a house that needs a new roof. In downtown, for example, Smithfield will use a state grant to run lights through trees; never mind that sidewalks are crumbling beneath those trees.
Smithfield leaders sometimes accuse this newspaper of raining on the town’s various parades. That is never our intent. But neither are we afraid to say that the town often buys a can of paint when what it really needs is shingles.