In N.C. House 83, it’s Gail Young by a nose among Democrats; Larry Pittman breezes to GOP win

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 9, 2018

SALISBURY — It came down to the final precinct reporting in Cabarrus County on Tuesday night, but Gail Young held on for a 21-vote win over Senah Andrews in the Democratic primary for the newly drawn N.C. House District 83.

Young captured 1,041 votes (43.6 percent) to Andrews’ 1,020 votes (42.8 percent) in the district that covers parts of Cabarrus and Rowan counties. Because of the close margin, Andrews can ask for a recount.

Earle Schecter came in a distant third in the Democratic race with 324 votes.

Young’s vote totals in Rowan County proved to be the difference. Here, she outpaced Andrews 123-65. In Cabarrus County (both women live in Concord), Andrews topped Young by a 955-918 spread.

Young is a political newcomer from Concord and formerly a longtime human resources employee with Mecklenburg County. She has been director of Citizens in Action NC, which works to inform and empower residents to engage with state elected officials.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side Tuesday, N.C. Rep. Larry Pittman, won convincingly over photographer Michael Anderson by a 2,590-1,481 margin. He garnered 63.6 percent of the GOP vote in the redrawn 83rd District.

“Very good,” Pittman said after the primary win. “Vindication is nice.”

Pittman said voters showed once again they would not be taken in by dirty campaigns of people who oppose him.

Pittman, a Presbyterian minister, said voters realized he is a man standing up for their rights and the Constitution.

“I had a clear message,” he said, adding that he rebutted claims he was ineffective in Raleigh by demonstrating all he had accomplished. “And people understood that.”

The newly drawn 83rd N.C. House District is dominated by Concord and Cabarrus County precincts, with a smattering of southern Rowan precincts thrown in. The previous 83rd House District was — and still is for the remainder of this year — represented by Rep. Linda P. Johnson, a nine-term member from Kannapolis.

She was placed in the redrawn 82nd District.

Of the new 83rd District’s 26 precincts, 19 lie in Cabarrus County, and 18 of those have Concord addresses. The other is part of Kannapolis.

In Rowan County, the district precincts include Bostian School and parts of Bostian Crossroads, Sumner, Blackwelder Park, China Grove, East Kannapolis and Landis.

In her campaign, Young said she was reaching out to voters who crave fundamental change, want to address basic moral issues and have a desire for a state based on shared values.

She spoke of taking on problems in public education, human rights, opioid addiction, and overt and systemic racism. She said she wants to address district gerrymandering, public safety in gun laws and education equity.

Andrews emphasized issues such as health care, education and job creation and said they are all connected. High quality education and health care attract new business, she said.

Andrews touted her background in mental health and education — she has a psychology practice in Concord and has taught classes at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College — as setting her apart from Young and Schecter.

A New York transplant who has lived in Concord 10 years, Schecter ran twice previously against Pittman in the general election and was unsuccessful. He is a former counselor for at-risk students in high school and a onetime state probation officer in Florida. He also has been a truck stop owner.

Pittman often speaks about getting government out of the way of business. He calls for better education opportunities for children, better pay for law officers and improved mental health care.

Pittman touts his conservative credentials and speaks strongly for gun owner rights, property rights, lower taxes, offshore oil exploration and responsible government, while speaking against abortion, illegal immigration, taxpayer incentives to corporations, and aggressive municipal annexation.

One of his continuing tag lines in campaign materials is “Because the people matter.”

Pittman has characterized himself as a champion for removing wasteful and inappropriate spending from the state budget. He has advocated reducing and eliminating personal income taxes and corporate income taxes.

He said he also has supported every raise given to teachers over the past several years, as well as keeping teacher assistants. He has worked for enhanced gun rights for concealed-carry permit-holders.

Anderson, running for public office for the first time, has a photography business in Concord. He said Pittman was not a positive role model or influence in Raleigh. He touted incentives for small business and more funding for the arts.

Anderson also spoke for improving infrastructure, school funding, mental health funding and addressing unaffordable healthcare.

In 2016, Pittman was the sponsor of Sheyenne’s Law, which equalized boating-while-impaired infractions with driving while impaired when it causes death or serious injury.

Pittman was appointed to N.C. House District 82 in 2011 to fill a spot vacated by Rep. Jeff Barnhart. He has won election to that seat three times since then. But the redrawn 83rd House District is a new territory to conquer politically, though it’s still heavily Republican.

This new district, because it reaches into Rowan County as far north as China Grove, represents a lot more travel than his former district, “but those people were worth it,” Pittman said.

He has attended town board meetings in China Grove, Landis and Kannapolis during the primary season and plans to do so in Concord on Thursday.

Pittman’s Rowan County vote totals Tuesday were 558 to Anderson’s 164.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.