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East Rowan Democrats to host ‘Meet Our Candidates’ forum

The East Rowan Democrats will host a “Meet Our Candidates” gathering from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

The meet-and-greet, held at Oglesby Community Center on Dunn’s Mountain Road in Granite Quarry, is meant to give residents a chance to interact with Democratic candidates and voice opinions about what is needed in the area.

Hot dogs, burgers and beverages will be furnished. Participants are asked to bring a favorite side dish.

Democratic candidates on East Rowan ballot in November include:

• Veleria Levy, Rowan County Board of Commissioners

Levy, a Kannapolis resident and senior account executive for Med Express/Avita Pharmacy, is making her second run for commissioner after campaigning in 2016. She previously served as second vice chairwoman of the North Carolina Democratic Party and chairwoman of the Rowan County Democratic Party.

Levy said that as a commissioner, she will fight for families first rather than big business. She emphasizes her support of public schools and environmental protection.

• Latasha Wilks, Rowan County Board of Commissioners

Wilks is making her second run for public office after a bid for Salisbury City Council last fall, when she campaigned on the promise of “truth, transparency and trust.”

Wilks calls herself “a mother, minister, a community advocate.” She founded Let’s Lend a Helping Hand LLC in 2011 and is a minister at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church.

Levy and Wilks both have the potential to be the first African-American woman elected to the Board of Commissioners. Each could be the first Democrat to serve on the board since Raymond Coltrain in 2008.

• Joe Fowler, N.C. House of Representatives District 76

Fowler was born and raised in Mount Airy and graduated from Northland College in Wisconsin with a degree in biology.

He worked as a state wildlife officer and with the National Wild Turkey Federation before opening Open Season Foods, a business in Salisbury selling locally sourced foods.

As a state representative, Fowler said he would work to improve conversation and communication and emphasize conservation.

• Gail Young, N.C. House of Representatives District 83

Young won the Democratic primary in her first run for public office. She is a resident of Concord and former human resources employee with Mecklenburg County.

Young is director of Citizens in Action NC, which works to inform and empower residents to engage with state elected officials. If elected, she said she will focus on improving education, making health care more accessible, protecting the environment and caring for veterans.

• Arin Wilhelm, N.C. Senate District 33

If no other candidate comes forward, Wilhelm will assume his candidacy for state Senate after Geoffrey Hoy withdraws from the race.

Hoy filed his candidacy as a place-holder for Wilhelm after Wilhelm was injured in a car accident in February.

Wilhelm has served on the Granite Quarry Board of Aldermen. As a state senator, Wilhem said he would work to increase teacher pay, strengthen requirements for gun ownership and support Medicaid expansion.

• Frank McNeill, U.S. House of Representatives District 8

McNeill is the former mayor of Aberdeen and says he is campaigning to bring North Carolina values to Washington: decency, kindness and hard work.

He is the third-generation owner of McNeill Oil and Propane and a graduate of Appalachian State University. He has also served on the Moore County Board of Education and president of the Aberdeen Lions Club.

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