Politics & Government

Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes is running for statewide office

Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes, chairwoman of the board.
Wake County Commissioner Jessica Holmes, chairwoman of the board. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Wake County Commissioner chairwoman Jessica Holmes announced her candidacy for North Carolina Commissioner of Labor on Wednesday.

This will be the Wake County Democrat’s first time running for a statewide office.

“It is time for workers to have a champion,” Holmes said in a news release. “I am ready to fight for livable wages, safe and healthy work environments and family-friendly policies. North Carolina workers deserve an advocate that puts them first every day. We need to move beyond complacency to action on behalf of workers.”

The labor commissioner election isn’t until November 2020 but that hasn’t stopped other candidates from announcing or preparing for the race. The commissioner is charged with promoting the “health, safety and general well-being” of workers throughout the state.

Republican incumbent Cherie Berry, who has served in the position since 2001, will likely run again. She’s changed her twitter username to CherieBerry2020.

Eva Lee, a Raleigh attorney and registered Democrat, may have been the first Democrat in the labor commissioner race. She announced she was running for the position earlier this month, according to The Insider.

Holmes, 34, was first elected to the Wake County board in 2014 and was the youngest Wake commissioner in county history. She won re-election last November and was the only candidate on the seven-person board who didn’t face a challenger in either the primary or general election.

Her term is set to end in 2020. She was just named the chairwoman for the second year ago.

During her time on the county board she’s advocated for affordable housing, early childhood education and, most recently, a new committee to address why black babies in Wake County are dying at a higher rate than white babies.

But her time on the board hasn’t been without controversy. She abruptly resigned from the county board midway through her first term, only to announce she’d continue serving the next day. At the time, she said she was leaving for a potential job but reconsidered after hearing from constituents. Recently the board has been plagued with ongoing discussions about what to do the former Crooked Creek Golf Course after a contentious Democratic primary.

A native of Pender County, Holmes is an attorney and lecturer at N.C. State University.

In the news release, Holmes said the minimum wage should be higher and businesses should “adopt family-friendly policies such as paid parental leave, sick days and pay equity for women.”

“Too many North Carolinians are working hard and living in poverty,” Holmes said in a news release. “We can and should do better. Employers need to know that North Carolina is open for business, and we welcome great places to work for our citizens. We are ready to rebuild our reputation as a state of inclusion and a place that will not tolerate discrimination in any form.”

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Anna Johnson covers Raleigh and Wake County for the News & Observer. She has covered city government, crime and business for North Carolina newspapers since 2012. Reach her at 919-829-4807 or ajohnson@newsobserver.com.


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