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Three of four state legislators will seek re-election in 2016

At least three of Rowan’s four state legislators will seek re-election when filing officially opens on Dec. 1.

Reps. Carl Ford, R-76, and Harry Warren, R-77, have confirmed their interest in a re-election bid. Sen. Tom McInnis, R-25, also said he plans to seek another term in the North Carolina General Assembly. Sen. Andrew Brock, R-34, couldn’t be reached last week to officially comment on his intentions in 2016. Brock’s state senate campaign committee, however, remains active.

Ford is the only one of the four who already has competition for his seat. Catawba College student Holden Sides said in July he would seek the 76th District seat.

Filing for all races in North Carolina starts Dec. 1 and ends Dec. 21.

Carl Ford

Ford, of China Grove, currently represents a district that starts near N.C. 200 in eastern Cabarrus County; stretches up to Landis, China Grove, parts of Kannapolis and the Salisbury area; and east to the Yadkin River. He is in the midst of his second term.

In his re-election bid, Ford said he’s interested in advocating for additional transportation projects in his district, tax reform and local issues.

“I think we’ve accomplished a lot, but there’s still plenty to do,” he said. “Everything I’ve pushed for since day one is moving forward, especially I-85 and the Old Beatty Ford Road interchange.”

A Department of Transportation project to widen I-85 to eight total lanes is already underway in Cabarrus County and scheduled to start next year in Rowan. A firm timeline for an I-85 interchange at Old Beatty Ford Road hasn’t yet been determined.

North Carolina’s General Assembly cut personal income taxes this year for some families from 5.7 percent to less than 5.5 percent. Ford said a continued reduction in income tax would “keep moving North Carolina up the ladder.”

Ford said cutting corporate taxes would help business add more jobs in the Cabarrus-Rowan area.

Personal property rights and supporting the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College system were also topics Ford said he supports.

During the 2015 legislative session, Ford was the primary sponsor of bills that would: give school calendar flexibility to individual systems, study whether to move municipal elections to even years, require a prosecutor to agree to waive jury trials for non-capital offenses, give more control to county governments when outside entities want to spread sewage sludge on farm fields; and remove extraterritorial planning jurisdictions.

Harry Warren

Warren, of Salisbury, currently represents a district that starts at Rowan County’s western border, stretches east to the Yadkin River and south to include the Granite Quarry and Faith communities. He is in the midst of his third term.

Warren said he feels better prepared and more experienced after serving the first part of his third term. He mentioned a number of varied topics as future priorities if re-elected.

“There are issues that I would like to see completed in my time of service and still some priorities I have, including teacher compensation and keeping teacher’s assistants,” he said. “I want to be there to champion those causes and make those improvements in education.”

He said cuts in personal income tax should continue in future sessions of the General Assembly. Virtual schools, regional schools and increasing funding to charter schools would offer parents an important opportunity to choose alternatives to traditional education, he said.

Warren also said he would try to identify funding for an expansion of Rowan County’s airport runway — estimated to cost more than $20 million — and a county-owned water and sewer system.

When asked about recent accomplishments, Warren said he supported the renewal of historic tax credits, medical deductions for senior citizens and wrote an initial draft of the state’s 2013 voting rights changes.

During the 2015 legislative session, Warren was a primary sponsor of bills that would: give school calendar flexibility to individual systems; create identification cards for undocumented immigrants; make legislative terms four years; and eventually eliminate a requirement for energy companies to make a certain portion of purchased electricity from green sources.

Tom McInnis

McInnis, of Rockingham, is in the midst of his first term representing a district that starts in Scotland County; stretches west to Anson’s border with Union County; and north to cover the China Grove, Rockwell and Gold Hill communities. He won a tight battle in 2014 with former Sen. Gene McLaurin, a Democrat, for the senate seat.

In a news release, McInnis said he ran for the Senate “promising bold, decisive leadership and a fair shake for the long-ignored counties” in the 25th District. McInnis said he’s delivered on his promises in the first year of his first term.

“I ran for the state senate to give the people of the 25th District, and all of rural North Carolina, more opportunities and a better quality of life,” McInnis said. “There’s more work to do, but this year we made historic accomplishments for the working families and schools of this district.”

McInnis said he supported a plan that will increase tax collections for every county in his district by at least 5 percent, a pay increase for starting teachers, personal income tax cuts and a bonus for all teachers and state employees. The plan McInnis referred to also introduces a tax on services such as household or car repairs.

During the 2015 legislative session, McInnis was the primary sponsor of bills that would create civil penalties for motorists who pass a stopped schools bus; give school calendar flexibility to local systems; significantly reform the state’s building code; change the school performance grading scale to a 15-point system; and require UNC System professors to teach a minimum number of hours per semester.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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