Former Mayor Heggins, Rowan Democrats chair will run for state legislature

Published 6:00 pm Friday, December 20, 2019

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — As filing ended Friday, three challengers signed up to run for state Senate and state House, including former Salisbury Mayor and current Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins.

Heggins, a Democrat, filed to run for state House District 76. She’ll face Republican Rep. Harry Warren, a five-term incumbent, in the general election.

Meanwhile, Rowan County Democratic Chair Geoffrey Hoy filed for the 33rd state Senate District in a bid to take on Sen. Carl Ford, a Republican, in the general election. First, Hoy will face Tarsha Ellis, an East Spencer Democrat who also filed Friday, in the March primary.

Hoy said he made the decision to run Thursday afternoon. His wife, Dottie, helped him come up with a campaign slogan: “Hope, Opportunity, Yes” — an acronym of his name.

“I’m running because I think people of Rowan and Stanly counties deserve something better than what we’ve receiving from our current representation,” Hoy said at the Democratic Party headquarters after filing. “I really want to see a greater sense of hope and opportunity for everybody, and I underline everybody.”

Hoy said he and Heggins, if elected, will work together in the legislature.

Heggins, just elected to her second term on the Salisbury City Council in November, said she wants to broaden her commitment to include places outside of Salisbury’s city limits.

“I’m running for election to the North Carolina House because I believe in our city, our county, our state and the many great people living here in Rowan County,” Heggins said in a statement. “Voices across our county deserve to be heard when important legislative decisions are being made that impact the quality of life for families and determine to what measure local government can serve its constituents.”

Hoy will be campaigning on Medicaid expansion, improving education and advocating for a living wage with economic development.

Heggins’ platform is state investment in public education, greater flexibility for decision making at the local level, extension of Medicaid, workers’ rights and poverty. Heggins said she wants to encourage residents of District 76 to consider the General Assembly “the People’s House” — a phrase she adopted for City Hall after becoming mayor.

And though she’ll be campaigning for state legislature in 2020, Heggins plans to continue serving on the City Council.

“I’m not going anywhere,” she said. “I will continue to serve my constituents in Salisbury as a City Council member and mayor pro tem, and then as their state representative in Raleigh. During my time as mayor, I learned firsthand how much control and influence the General Assembly has over municipal governments and budgets. I believe I can be even stronger advocate for Salisbury and Rowan County serving in the North Carolina House of Representatives.”

All of Rowan County’s incumbent legislators filed on Dec. 2. That includes Rep. Julia Howard, R-77, who will face Democratic challenger Barbara Howard, of Advance, in the general election. Rep. Wayne Sasser, R-67, is running unopposed. His district is a new addition to Rowan County.

Rep. Ted Budd, R-13, will face Democrat Scott Huffman, of Harrisburg, in the general election. Huffman does not live in the newly redrawn 13th District, but candidates for the U.S. House only need to live in North Carolina; they do not need to live in the district for which they’re a candidate. Before congressional maps were redrawn, Huffman sought to unseat Rep. Richard Hudson, R-8. Hudson’s district no longer extends into Rowan.

Huffman said he decided not to run in District 8, because he did not want to run against a “solid candidate,” Patricia Timmons-Goodson, who is a retired N.C. Supreme Court Justice and vice chair of the Civil Rights Commission.

Huffman and Budd do not have any primary challengers.

Three candidates filed for the two open Rowan County commission seats — incumbents Craig Pierce and Mike Caskey and former China Grove Mayor Lee Withers.

The primary is March 3. The general election is Nov. 3.