by N.C. Rep. Ruth Samuelson
Special to South Charlotte Weekly
Feb. 13 will mark the official start of the campaign season in North Carolina, as the filing period for federal, state and local political candidates begins.
I have no doubt the Mecklenburg County commissioners race will be getting lots of attention in south Mecklenburg. And, like the rest of the country, we’ll be closely watching what will undoubtedly be a hard-fought presidential race.
But this year I hope you’ll also take a few minutes to tune in to some political contests that I fear will get overlooked – the state House and Senate elections.
Across North Carolina, legislative candidates will be standing for election in 170 newly drawn House and Senate districts. Because of extraordinary population growth in the past decade, south Mecklenburg will get more representation in the state legislature under the new district maps.
And, if voters make informed choices, I believe we will be better represented as well.
There’s a good chance your Senate or House district has changed. On the Senate side, most residents of Matthews and Mint Hill will find themselves in the new District 41, along with much of north Mecklenburg. On the House side, many south Charlotte residents will be part of the new District 88. It includes Carmel Country Club, Quail Hollow and many of the neighborhoods along Park Road that have been in District 104, which I currently represent.
District 104 will shift south and eastward, picking up a few large neighborhoods, such as Raintree and Beverly Crest, as well as areas along Alexander Road and Sardis Road North. As I begin my own re-election campaign, I am looking forward to getting to know the folks in these newly added precincts better!
To determine which House and Senate districts you’ll be voting in this year, go to the Mecklenburg County elections board website, www.meckboe.org, click under the heading that says “New Districts have been adopted,” and you’ll be redirected to a page where you can plug in your address to find your new districts.
Once you know which districts you’re in, I urge you to learn about candidates seeking to represent you in the state legislature. You may want to invite them to speak to your homeowners’ association or other community group. Why? Because 140 miles away in Raleigh, state legislators make big decisions about issues that affect your life every day, including the taxes you pay, the kind of education your children get and the regulations that have to be followed in your workplace.
For example, in the last legislative session the Republican majority blocked repeated attempts by Gov. Perdue to raise taxes. We expanded access to charter schools, and we limited what new regulations could be imposed on businesses.
As a member of the Republican leadership in the House, I hope you agree that we have served the people of North Carolina well. But whatever you think, I hope you will get educated and vote. The May 8 primary will be here before you know it!
Ruth Samuelson represents District 104 in the N.C. House, where she serves as majority whip. District 104 covers the south Charlotte neighborhoods along Providence Road, as well as a portion of the SouthPark area.