Few new faces

Only three newcomers in area's legislative delegation
Nov. 30, 2012 @ 06:01 PM

The combination of safe districts created for both parties and a slate of uncontested races in last month’s general election means only three new faces for the area’s state legislative delegation.
And one of those faces is well-known already in political circles from her service in other elected offices for many years.
Of the more than a dozen state senators and representatives who serve the area in and around High Point, more than half were assured of another two-year term on Election Day Nov. 6 because they were unopposed. Others faced opposition from a candidate of the other major party, but easily retained their seats because their districts are drawn so safely to benefit their party.
The three newcomers – all Republicans – are Rep. Allen McNeill, R-Randolph, and Rep.-Elect Jon Hardister and Sen.-Elect Trudy Wade, both of Greensboro.
McNeill, a longtime law enforcement officer, filled the 78th State House District seat vacated earlier this year by veteran Republican Harold Brubaker of Asheboro, who surprised most observers by retiring from politics. McNeill is serving out the remainder of Brubaker’s term until McNeill’s first full term begins when the N.C. General Assembly convenes Jan. 9 for the 2013 legislative session.
Hardister will be serving his first term in the General Assembly when he takes the 59th State House District seat in Guilford County. Wade also is serving for the first time in the Legislature through the 27th State Senate District, though she’s served in elected office on Greensboro City Council and formerly on the Guilford County Board of Commissioners.
Hardister, who has a background in the mortgage industry and private business, and Wade, a veterinarian who operates her own practice, will fill open seats that were created through redistricting last year by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. They will replace veteran Rep. Maggie Jeffus, D-Guilford, and two-term Sen. Don Vaughan, D-Guilford, who didn’t seek re-election in redrawn districts.
The area’s legislative delegation has taken a decidedly GOP turn in the last two election cycles. Of the 14 representatives and senators who serve parts of Guilford, Davidson and Randolph counties, 10 will be Republicans and four will be Democrats for the upcoming legislative session.
The area’s delegation has members in both chambers with clout and seniority, said Ran Coble, executive director of the nonpartisan N.C. Center for Public Policy Research in Raleigh. Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, who serves parts of Guilford County, is the leader of the Senate as president pro tem. Sen. Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, serves as majority whip. Veteran Rep. Jerry Dockham, R-Davidson, is part of the leadership in the House.
“You’ve got three people with seniority who are going to be in leadership positions,” Coble said. “Not many communities have somebody in the leadership and in the leadership in both chambers.”
pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528