Johnston school board chairman Larry Strickland has won a key endorsement in his bid for the N.C. House of Representatives.
When Strickland filed Dec. 3 at the Johnston Board of Elections office in Smithfield, he had company – the man he hopes to succeed in the legislature. District 28 Rep. J.H. Langdon was there to offer his endorsement of Strickland, who faces a Republican Party primary challenge from Johnston County Commissioner Tony Braswell, who filed Dec. 4.
Langdon was a Johnston county commissioner before serving in the House, where he has been chairman of the committees on education and agriculture.
“Having served as chairman of Education and Agriculture, I believe Larry has the background, work ethic and character to eventually become chair of either of these committees or possibly the Transportation Committee,” Langdon said. “His experience as chairman of the board of education in Johnston County will serve him well in similar capacities in Raleigh.”
In addition to his service to Johnston schools, Strickland is an advocate for farms, Langdon said. “Larry has a working family farm that he grew up on and continues to oversee,” Langdon noted. “It is important to me as the senior Agriculture chair in the House that whoever fills this seat understands agriculture and more importantly the family farm.”
Finally, Langdon said Strickland understands the state’s transportation needs and the needs of state employees. “Larry has been a 25-year employee of the Department of Transportation and understands how important building highways and infrastructure is to the recruitment of jobs and the overall economy of North Carolina,” he said. “Having worked as a state employee for much of his career, Larry understands state employees.
“I believe that Larry Strickland is the right man at this time for the citizens of Johnston County and District 28.”
House District 26
A second filing this month in Johnston County guaranteed a November 2016 election for the District 26 House seat now held by the retiring Leo Daughtry of Smithfield.
Democrat Rich Nixon of Clayton filed Dec. 4 for the District 26 seat. Republican Donna White, also of Clayton, filed three days before.
Nixon, who teaches at Corinth Holders High School, said education was the main plank in his platform, and he was unequivocal in his condemnation of the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
“I am running because I have seen firsthand the impact of the relentless assault on public schools and public school children that has taken place over the past four years,” he said. “I have witnessed our Johnston County schools struggle to meet the challenges of more students and fewer resources, our teachers – and my colleagues – demoralized from legislation that strips away hard-earned rights and devalues our most experienced professionals, and I have watched the children of our county suffer as our state’s investment in them plummeted into the bottom tier of the nation and region.
“I am running because I do not believe these policies will change until we send people to Raleigh who will stand against those who want to dismantle public education and stand for the children of our county.”
Nixon, the son of teachers, is a graduate of Clayton High School. He played football at Wake Forest University before transferring to N.C. State, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in history and his master’s degree in education. He has been a teacher for 37 years, 28 of them in Johnston County.
“Throughout my career I have worked to advance the cause of public schools and public school children in North Carolina, mainly through my work with the North Carolina Association of Educators,” Nixon said. “I’ve been a member for most of my career and served on the NCAE Board of Directors from 2012-2015. I have also served multiple terms as president of the Johnston County Association of Educators.”
Nixon’s wife also teaches at Corinth Holders High, and together, they are faculty advisers to the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. They are members of First Baptist Church in Smithfield, where they teach Sunday School.
“If I am elected, I will focus like a laser on the cause of education in North Carolina,” Nixon said. “ I will work to lift North Carolina back to the position it once held as a national leader in education and thereby brighten the futures of our children and grandchildren.”
Senate District 10
Incumbent N.C. Sen. Brent Jackson, a Republican from Sampson County, has filed for reelection. His district includes part of Johnston County.
“I am proud of the reforms we have enacted since taking the majority in 2011, and I hope to have the opportunity to continue that work for another two years,” Jackson said. “We have made great strides in transforming our tax code, Medicaid system and agricultural policy while holding down spending, reducing our debt and bolstering our Rainy Day Fund.
“However, there is still work to be done, and I would be humbled to continue to serve the people of Duplin, Johnston and Sampson counties in the Senate.”
Jackson is co-chairman of the Senate’s Appropriations/Base Budget Committee and vice chairman of the Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Committee.
The 10th Senate District is largely rural and heavily dependent on agriculture, Jackson noted. He is a founding member of the General Assembly’s Agriculture and Rural Caucus. Jackson is a co-founder and the current president and chief executive of Jackson Farming Co., a diversified operation that grows produce, tobacco and grain.