CORRECTION: A previous version of the article misstated the organization Brigit Godfrey works for. She works for the North Carolina Democratic party. The article has been updated to reflect the change. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the error.
A new year could bring about changes in leadership in North Carolina. With the North Carolina primaries on March 3, the election for governor will soon be in full swing.
Incumbent Democratic candidate Gov. Roy Cooper is running again for office, but not uncontested. There are two candidates running for the Republican bid for governor, N.C. Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest of Charlotte and N.C. Rep. Holly Grange (R-New Hanover) of Wilmington. Ernest Reeves is challenging Cooper for the Democratic bid.
Forest has been lieutenant governor since being elected in 2012, presiding over the N.C. Senate. He also sits on the State Board of Education and the State Board of Community Colleges.
Forest has campaigned on making rural towns more of a priority.
“If you live in the city, it is easy to forget that 85 percent of the state of North Carolina is actually rural,” Forest said in a January campaign video. “I want to make sure that you all know this message today is for the people of rural North Carolina.”
Forest said he is willing to do whatever it takes for the rural communities in the state.
“The problem is, many of our small towns in North Carolina today are just trying to survive,” Forest said. “Jobs are still disappearing, young people are still leaving and they’re not coming back either. Rural North Carolina needs a revival.”
As a representative in the N.C. House, Grange offers a different set of experiences and perspectives than Forest. She is also a United States Army veteran, serving in places such as South Korea, Virginia and North Carolina.
Grange said North Carolina’s background with the military makes it a unique place, especially with eight bases located throughout the state.
“I bring an understanding of how important it is to take care of the military, the veterans and their families,” Grange said in one of her ads. “I have a perspective that other people won’t have because I’ve been there.”
Grange’s main issues on her platform include stricter immigration laws, protections for military, veterans and law enforcement and bringing an end to abortion in North Carolina.
Joseph Buckner, a UNC student and Republican voter, said he supports Forest as a candidate because of his experience as lieutenant governor.
“His experience in working with both sides of the aisle, as well as presiding over the N.C. Senate uniquely qualifies him for the job of governor over Representative Holly Grange,” he said.
Buckner said having a Republican governor could increase the amount of legislation passed in the General Assembly, including a state budget showing an increase in teacher pay and a focus on school choice. He thinks a governor who is willing to improve the economy of the state is a must.
“The single most important issue to myself and one I believe should be the most important to all students is the economy,” Buckner said. “The economy in North Carolina is primed to continue growing under Republican leadership in the N.C. legislature, which will create more jobs and allow students to have families, pay back debts and live a better life than previous generations.”
On the Democratic side, Cooper is running for reelection. He has passed many different policies, like the Opioid Action Plan and an executive order making North Carolina the first state in the south to stop state funding for conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ individuals.
Brigid Godfrey of the North Carolina Democratic Party said she thinks Cooper is the best candidate to be governor for the state because he is fighting for all North Carolinians.
“From expanding Medicaid and giving teachers a meaningful pay raise, Democrats and Gov. Cooper are focused on pocketbook issues important to North Carolina,” she said.
Godfrey also said a priority for the Democratic Party is to ensure everyone can vote and to make sure that vote matters.
“We can only do that if people, especially young people, come out to vote in record numbers,” she said. “This is the most important election of our lifetime, and we need all hands on deck to expand health care access, give our teachers a fair raise, protect the right to vote to ensure your voice is heard and create a better, more prosperous North Carolina.”
The official voting day for the primary elections is March 3, and early voting starts on Feb. 13 for Orange County.
For early-voting schedules and locations in Orange County, you can visit the Orange County Board of Elections website.
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