Chad Stewart wants to continue serving his Johnston neighbors as the District 3 county commissioner.
In April 2013, the Board of Commissioners appointed Stewart to the vacancy created by the January death of his father, longtime commissioner Wade Stewart.
Stewart said he decided to run for election because he wants to give back to the community and because he cares about the future of Johnston County.
Stewart resides in District 3, which encompasses much of Four Oaks, the Bentonville community, the Brogden community and Princeton, though voters countywide cast ballots in all commissioner races.
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Stewart, 43, said he learned many lessons from his father, including what he takes the most pride in: accessibility. “I am a liaison between the taxpayer and county government,” he said.
If elected, Stewart said, he would focus on education, economic development and supporting emergency workers and veterans.
Stewart said he feels strongly about education and supports raising the salary supplement paid to teachers. His wife is a teacher, and he is a member of the Parent Teacher Association at Four Oaks Elementary School.
The state provides most of a teacher’s wage, but most counties pay a salary supplement. Wake County’s supplement is higher than Johnston’s. “We don’t need to lose teachers to Wake County because of pay,” Stewart said.
Johnston also needs to keep building schools, as needed, with bond dollars approved by voters, Stewart said.
Stewart said the most important thing a county can provide is safety. He said he is passionate about connecting with the county’s firefighters and other emergency responders.
Stewart wants to continue overseeing the switch to a new radio system for county and municipal first responders. “I’m already very involved in the process, and I want to see it through,” he said. “It’s a complicated process that involves fire, rescue, local municipalities, (the) Sheriff’s Department. It’s going to require a substantial amount of money.”
For economic development, Stewart said the county is on the right track after hiring a full-time economic director. “It sends out a signal that our county is devoted to economic development,” he said. “When an industry comes and we have a full-time employee, they know that we’re in the game, that we mean business.”
Over time, Stewart said, the growth concentrated in Clayton and western Johnston will spread east. The county’s job is to plan accordingly, he said.
“Economic development will happen,” Stewart said. “It’s slow, but it will happen, because we have everything in place to make companies want to come to this county.” Stewart said he especially supports small business.
Stewart has lived in Four Oaks almost his entire life. He graduated from South Johnston High School in 1998, briefly attended N.C. State University and then entered the Navy in 1990. He was honorably discharged at the end of 1993, graduated from Johnston Community College and then finished at Campbell University in 1998 with a degree in business administration.
Stewart went into business with his father and is now owner of 301 Service Center and Auto Sales in Four Oaks. His and his wife, Ursula, have three sons, Grant, 10, Andrew, 8, and Grimes, 6.
Stewart is a member of the American Legion, the Four Oaks Civitan Club and the Rotary Club of Central Johnston County.