Marshall campaigns in Salisbury
SALISBURY - North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall visited Salisbury on Saturday evening, and Rowan County Democrats greeted her with a small reception at EastSquare ArtWorks.
Marshall, who is seeking re-election this year in a race against Republican challenger Ed Goodwin, walked around the room to greet various supporters. She said she always feels welcome in Rowan County.
After the reception, she attended a gala for the Historic Salisbury Foundation.
Marshall was first elected secretary of state in 1996, becoming the first woman elected to statewide executive office in North Carolina.
"I inherited an office that was out of date, and employee morale was very, very low," she said to supporters at the reception. "Immediately, we began investing in employees and embracing technology. ... Fast forward, and we've now received national recognition for our embrace of technology, our efficiency and cutting red tape for businesses getting started."
She said her office is in charge of processing and maintaining a variety of different corporate documents. It has used e-commerce technology to drastically reduce turnaround time, she said.
"The secretary of of state's office is like the register of deeds office and parts of the clerk's office combined into one for all 100 counties." Marshall said. "I take pride in the efficiency and openness of our databases."
Marshall also explained that her office helps investigate criminal and civil cases involving business law.
That includes busting makers of counterfeit trademarked products, authors of Ponzi schemes and promoters of bad investments.
"It matters who your secretary of state is, because we have the backbone to take on these kinds of folks," Marshall said.
Whitney Peckman said she's glad that Marshall stopped by the art gallery, which she runs with her husband, Syed Ahmad.
"I actually learned a lot from what she said tonight," Peckman said. "I think that I was not clear on the distinctions of what her office does."
Cynthia Pharr, president of the African-American Caucus on Rowan County, said she thinks the visit was "fantastic."
"It's a chance to put a face to the name if you haven't already met her," Pharr said. "I've met her before, and she's a wonderful person."
Pharr said she and other Democrats want to do everything they can to get Marshall re-elected.
Her friend, Linda Faulk, said Marshall has done a good job as Secretary of State.
"I think she needs to be back in there," Faulk said.
Marshall also spent time quickly campaigning for other Democrats running for state office, including Linda Coleman for lieutenant governor and Walter Dalton for governor.
Later in the reception, Marshall said she's capable of working with officials from both parties.
"Republicans understand business, so I have some excellent allies in the Republican General Assembly," she said. "Since we've had a Republican administration down here, we have not had any problems with our activities."
Marshall was born in rural Maryland and earned her law degree from Campbell University. She served in the state Senate from 1992 to 1996.
Goodwin, her opponent, served four years in the U.S .Air Force and returned to East Carolina University, where he graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice. He has been a Chowan County Commissioner since 2008 and now serves as the board's chairman.