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Catawba College student announces run for state house seat

There’s never been a State House candidate from Rowan quite like Holden Sides.

Sides, a 21-year-old junior at Catawba College, launched a campaign last week for North Carolina House District 76, currently held by Republican Carl Ford. Sides is the third vice chairman of the Rowan Democratic Party and lives just outside of China Grove’s town limits.

Filing for the race is still months away and election day for the State House seat is more than a year off. The District 76 seat has traditionally been held by a Republican. The late Eugene McCombs held the 76 district seat in the early 2000s. Following McCombs’ death, the seat was held by Fred Steen before Ford took the spot. Sides would be the first Democratic challenge in more than 20 years.

If successful, Sides could be the youngest candidate ever to represent Rowan in the state legislature, according to election records and Salisbury Post archives. And, Sides just barely makes the 21-year-old minimum for the race. He turned 21 earlier this year, and would be 22 and a college graduate by the time he’s sworn into office.

Rowan’s youngest legislator ever was former State Sen. Bob Davis Jr., a democrat, who was elected to the state senate in 1978 at the age of 25.

Sides described himself as a left-leaning moderate. Sides listed protecting the environment, increasing teacher pay, animal welfare and common-sense economic development as the issues most important to him. He said education and adding jobs are, undoubtedly, the most important issues in the 76th district. The district includes China Grove, Landis, parts of Kannapolis and a large swath of land in east Rowan and east Cabarrus counties.

He also criticized Ford for not listening to the concerns of his constituents.

“As an elected leader, I believe it’s your responsibility to listen because you can learn a lot from your critics,” Sides said.

Sides shied away from issuing specific criticisms of Ford’s votes and actions in the legislature, saying “he’s not technically in the race yet.”

“I just think that we can do better as a state and do better for the next generation,” Sides said.

His youth, Sides said, is an asset rather than a negative aspect to his candidacy. He sits on Rowan County’s Historic Landmarks Commission, and works for RH Barringer, an alcoholic beverage distribution company.

A political science major at Catawba, Sides said he’s considered getting involved in politics for more than a year. There wasn’t a specific moment that sparked a run for state house, he said.

“I just feel like I can make a bigger difference for our community on a state level,” he said.

Filing for the State House race officially starts on February 8, 2016.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.





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