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Pitt County legislators promise cooperation

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Election signs sit at the corner of Greenville Boulevard and Charles Boulevard on Nov. 7, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The end of the Republican supermajority in both chambers of the North Carolina General Assembly should create more cooperation and fewer showdowns with the governor, said Pitt County’s Democratic senator.

His Republican colleagues in the state House said they are interested in meeting needs for eastern North Carolina.

Pitt County’s four-person legislative delegation will be equally divided among Republicans and Democrats, according to unofficial election votes.

Voters in Greene and Pitt County returned Democrat Don Davis to a fifth term in the House. Pitt County voters elected Greenville City Council member Kandie Smith, a Democrat, to the new House District 8 seat.

On the GOP side, Dr. Greg Murphy, who was first appointed to the House District 9 seat in late 2015, won his second full term on Thursday. He and Smith will be joined in the House by Chris Humphrey of Kinston who, after a technical glitch involving Lenoir County voting machines, was declared the winner of the contest for the reconfigured House District 12 seat.

The district which includes all of Lenoir County and five precincts in southern Pitt County, previously was held by George Graham.

According to the unofficial vote totals, which were released about 1 p.m. Wednesday, Humphrey received 14,310 votes to Graham’s 10,950 votes.

Humphrey thanked voters and asked that Graham be shown “kindness and respect” for his service.

“Our community is filled with kind, amazing people from many walks of life. ... We would all benefit from remembering that reasonable people can have differing views, and still love each other,” Humphrey said. “I also believe we share many goals for our community. We all want what is best for our children, and future generations.

“We clearly need change for rural North Carolina and I am asking that we focus more on the reasonable exchange of ideas, and less on political rhetoric,” Humphrey said.

Davis also expressed a desire for more shared goals and balance in the General Assembly.

“I am glad we were able to break the supermajority in both chambers,” Davis said. Supermajorities allow for extreme agendas which are not good for anybody, especially the citizens of North Carolina, he said.

“It will force more conversations, more hard conversations about what is best for the people,” Davis said. “I think it’s going to lead to better policy for our citizens.”

Court-mandated redistricting reshaped the makeup of Pitt County’s legislative delegation this election year but its members came from both political parties. Despite the political differences, the group worked well together promoting the needs of East Carolina University and the Brody School of Medicine, Davis said.

All of Pitt County’s legislators said they believed that the cooperative spirit would continue.

“I look forward to working with both Republicans and Democrats in the future to further the needs of Pitt County and the citizens that live here,” Murphy said.

“I look forward to working with (Smith). I believe she is a very talented individual and I believe we can work together and do great things for the county,” Murphy said.

Greenville’s City Council elections are nonpartisan and members typically work in a nonpartisan manner, Smith said. It should not be any different now that she joining the General Assembly.

“We need to make sure we are working across aisles,” Smith said. “The main thing is representing eastern North Carolina. That’s what it’s about.

“The moment we start fighting with each other and take a personal focus on ourselves as elected officials, we lose sight of the real reason we are there, it’s of the people but the people and for the people and I will continue that,” she said.

The needs of people in Pitt County and eastern North Carolina must stay in the forefront, Davis said.

“Pitt County is central to eastern North Carolina, we have to always remember the greater region and that it’s impacted by what we do in the county,” Davis said.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.

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