After handily winning Tuesday’s Democratic primary, former Raleigh mayor Charles Meeker will now fight to unseat longtime state labor commissioner Cherie Berry in November.
With all precincts reporting, Meeker had 57 percent of the vote. Greensboro minister Mazie Ferguson had 43 percent.
The labor department is responsible for overseeing workplace safety, inspecting elevators, mines and amusement rides, and administering the state’s wage-and-hour law.
Meeker, 65, who served as Raleigh’s mayor from 2001 to 2011, contends that under Berry’s 16-year tenure as labor chief, the department has failed the state’s workers.
He has referred to stories, published in the Observer and The News & Observer of Raleigh, detailing Berry’s aversion to regulations – and to stories showing how the improper classification of employees as independent contractors has hurt workers.
Berry, a Republican, faced no opposition in the primary.
If elected, Meeker says, he will replace the elevator photographs of the labor commissioner with pictures of working North Carolinians. Berry’s smiling photo has graced the state-mandated inspection placards for 10 years. Meeker has called that “self-promotion by a career politician.”
A recent study found that Berry is the only state elevator inspection official whose photo is in elevators.
Ferguson, who has worked as a pastor of Baptist churches in Greensboro and Siler City, also served recently as chair of religious affairs for the N.C. NAACP.
Mazie Ferguson 43.11%
Charles Meeker 56.89%
2,544 of 2,709 precincts reporting