House candidates across the board

The 120 members of the North Carolina House of Representatives are often called on for services to constituents trying to navigate the state government bureaucracy, and they typically have detailed familiarity with their districts, to whom they owe their allegiance. But they’re also crucial in dealing with statewide issues, evidenced by controversies over Voter ID laws and the now-infamous HB2. Here is one of two sets of The News & Observer’s editorial endorsements in this year’s area House races. The endorsements for other seats will run tomorrow.

District 11

This district includes parts of Raleigh and western Wake County and has been ably represented by Democrat Duane Hall, a 49-year-old lawyer. Hall has moved into leadership positions with the minority party, and he’s been a capable lawmaker who has opposed the ideologically driven GOP agenda. Hall has well-earned another term.

Opponent Ray Martin, 64, a Republican, has run for the office before and is a most thoughtful, conservative candidate.

Libertarian Brian Lewis also is in the race.

District 34

Grier Martin, 47, is a Democrat and a lawyer who also is a military veteran and has done well for his constituents in the House. He has deep ties in North Carolina, and has exhibited an open-minded attitude toward all viewpoints. There’s no question Martin’s done a good job and will continue to do so for this Raleigh district if he wins another term. The N&O editorial board endorses him.

His opponent, Republican Bill Morris, 57, is a graduate of the The Citadel with a long career in homebuilding and an admirable interest in helping the homeless. A conservative, Morris believes in a “consumption tax” rather than the income tax and supports vouchers and other “competition” for public education.

District 35

Chris Malone, 59, is in the incumbent Republican in this Wake district, which includes parts of Knightdale, Roseville and Wake Forest. Malone, of Wake Forest, a former member of the Wake school board, is a New Jersey native. He has admirably been an advocate for children and the disadvantaged. Malone is by most definitions a conservative, agreeing in principle with HB2, the disastrous “bathroom bill” that has wreaked havoc economically across North Carolina.

Malone’s opponent is a worthy one, Terence Everitt, 42, is an attorney from Wake Forest. Democrat Everitt is a progressive who believes the General Assembly has lost its way on some issues. He’d like to focus on education and not on the big tax breaks Republicans have passed, which he believes have hurt small businesses and the middle class.

Everitt could be part of a positive change, and for that reason has The N&O’s editorial endorsement.

District 36

Incumbent Nelson Dollar, 55, is a Republican first elected from this Cary and southwest Wake County district in 2004. A public relations consultant, Dollar has risen during the Republicans’ rule on Jones Street to an influential position as a budget writer. While not as bombastic on social issues as some of his GOP mates, Dollar has stayed true to the right wing of his party.

Dollar has a strong opponent in Democrat Jen Ferrell, 38, a native of Northern Virginia and an advocate for public education. Ferrell is not letting the soft-spoken Dollar off the hook for his record. He voted for HB2, for vouchers (public money for private education) and, she says, “votes with his (GOP) caucus every time.”

Ferrell wants more investment in public schools, a repeal of HB2, no more secrecy on the state budget Dollar helps to write. She’d be a breath of fresh, progressive air in this district, and thus The N&O editorial board endorses her.

District 37

This is the southern Wake district seat formerly held by Paul “Skip” Stam, a retiring power in the state House and a representative behind some of the Republicans’ conservative agenda. Seeking to replace Stam are Republican Linda Hunt Williams, Democrat Randy Barrow, and Robert Rose, a Libertarian. The race will be between Williams and Barrow.

Williams has lived in Holly Springs since 2001, and has served on the town council. Williams has the kind of grass roots service that’s helpful in the state House.

But Barrow, who lives in the Willow Spring community and is a high school coach and social studies teacher, is strong on education and is a progressive in line with the Democratic caucus. This is a conservative district, but Barrow could be a part of a Democratic surge that could end the Republican “super majority” in the lower chamber which has not well-served the people.