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GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – There are very few primary elections to find competitors for incumbents in state legislative races, but one of those is in Guilford County, where two Democrats are on the ballot to challenge Rep. Hardister (R-Whitsett).

That race in House District 59 is seen as slightly more competitive than it has in the past. The map drawn and approved by special masters chosen by a Wake County Superior Court in February moved in a few more likely Democratic voters to a district that has been decidedly red.

Hardister, who was first elected in 2010 and who serves as majority whip in the House, defeated Nicole Quick in 2020, getting 52.3% of the vote, and in 2018 received 57% of the vote in defeating Steve Buccini. He had received more than 60% in each of the prior victories, but his district was decidedly different.

This time two Democrats, Eddie Aday, a military veteran and farm owner from Gibsonville, and Sherrie Young, a nurse from Greensboro, want to take on Hardister.

Early voting began on April 28 and will continue through May 14, with the Primary Election on May 17. Any runoffs that might be required – in races of more than two, the leader must get 30% plus one vote to win outright – would be on July 26.

Democrat Pricey Harrison of Greensboro is unopposed in seeking a return to Raleigh as a representative of Guilford County. But Republican John Faircloth and Democrats Cecil Brockman, Ashton Clemmons and Amos Quick all will face opponents in November. None is challenged in the primary.

But there are primary ballots in several other state House districts across the Triad:

  • Incumbent Reece Pyrtle (R-Stoneville) is being challenged in the primary by Joseph A. Gibson III of Stokesdale in House District 65 in Rockingham County, and Democrats Jay Donecker of Reidsville and Gary L. Smith of Eden are in the primary.
  • Democrats Kanika Brown, David Moore and Frederick N. Terry of Winston-Salem are vying in House District 71.
  • Democrats of Carla Catalan Day of Winston-Salem or Sean Lew of Clemmons are seeking the nomination in House District 74.
  • Incumbent Republican Kyle Hall of King has two GOP opponents in the primary – James Douglas of Rural Hall and Steven L. James of King – in House District 91 in Forsyth and Stokes counties.
  • Republicans David Ashley of Climax, Cory Bortee of Asheboro and Neal Jackson of Robbins are vying in House District 78 in Randolph County.
  • Republicans Peter Boykin and Ed Priola of Mebane and Stephen Ross of Burlington seek the nomination in in House District 63.
  • Renee Price and Matt Hughes of Hillsborough are Democratic candidates in House District 50 for Caswell County.
  • Republicans Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy and Benjamin Romans of Roaring River are running in House District 90, which includes Surry and part of Wilkes counties.

Aday and Young are both newcomers to politics who describe different motivations to enter the race, so to learn more about their campaigns and how the issues they see as primary, we submitted to them five questions via email.

Their responses, lightly edited, are presented here in alphabetical order.

Why did you decide to enter this race?

EDDIE ADAY: I decided to enter the race for HD59 because I was asked to by respected members of my community; when members of your community ask you to represent them in Raleigh, you don’t say no. As far as public office in general is concerned, I began this journey after the misguided and tragic piece of legislation known as HB2 became law in our state. That piece of legislation cost the state billions in revenue, caused harm to our citizens, and was held up as a national example of regressive attacks on civil rights. The incumbent in this district voted for that bill and has made other attacks on civil liberties (most recently, repeated attacks on UNC student organizations for offering voluntary and self-funded diversity education). The citizens of HD59 and North Carolina deserve better; they deserve a representative with a lifetime record of public service who will fight for civil liberties, for the voiceless and for those who cannot fight for themselves.

SHERRIE YOUNG: I’ve decided to join the race to make a difference in my community tremendously. Being a voice for the people is the most important structure in areas of environmental awareness, fair regulations and over taxation.

What do you see as the biggest issues facing North Carolina in the next four years?

EDDIE ADAY: The biggest issues facing North Carolina are (in no particular order): regressive attacks on civil liberties by the NC GOP (not limited to, but including women’s health choices); outdated and absent infrastructure (including rural broadband); teacher pay and public school performance well below the national average; voter suppression/restrictions to ballot access; affordable housing crisis; lack of Medicaid expansion; veterans’ issues (mental health, substance abuse, homelessness, etc.); gun violence; missing/murdered women (largely Native or other persons of color and/or low income); state minimum wage increase to $15/hr.

SHERRIE YOUNG: The biggest issues I see North Carolina faces in the next 4 years are our natural resources. Clean drinking water needs to be re-enforced without harmful chemicals as well as purification from COVID-19 to ensure healthy citizens. Gas prices and pollution from vehicles can be enhanced with proper alternatives by going green. Solar panels to reduce electric bills as well as placing more jobs to stay here vs. overseas are my main concern.

How has your personal experience/journey positioned you – uniquely or otherwise – to represent your district through this period?

EDDIE ADAY: I have spent my life in the service of my country and community in one form or another. I joined the Civil Air Patrol in junior high, enlisted in the US Marine Corps (infantry-machine gunner) after high school, enlisted in the Army National Guard (infantry) while in college, spent almost a decade in high-threat diplomatic security for the US State Department in Iraq and Afghanistan and was a volunteer firefighter with the McLeansville Fire Department. While in Iraq, I earned the Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantryman’s Badge. I also earned a Community Outreach and Service award while a student in the biotechnology and agricultural biotechnology programs at Alamance Community College as well as a National Science Foundation award for Excellence in Advanced Technical Education. I have spent time in the classroom co-teaching college-level biotech classes to high school students, am on the biotechnology advisory board at the college as well as am an advisory board member for a National Science Foundation grant researching gaps between community college training programs and biotechnology industry partners at the national level. My wife and I own a small farm in Gibsonville, where we produce healthy, locally grown food for our community. I’m also an avid outdoorsman; my personal best 6-pound, 11-ounce bass and 8-point buck both came out of Guilford County (Lake Mackintosh and my farm specifically). In a nutshell, I am the public servant this district deserves. I have the demonstrated leadership, classroom, and industry experience to make decisions that will propel this district forward and cultivate community resiliency. I also don’t care what letter is behind your name on your voter registration; I care about community above all else. I care about being there when my neighbor needs a hand. I care about making sure every person in this district has a roof over their head, food on their table, and has the ability to pursue happiness and purpose in this world however they define it. All this is in stark contrast to an incumbent who has never worn a uniform in service of his country or community; never had a real job or had to work a hard day in his life to put food on his family’s table; and never put his hands in the soil or gotten them dirty embracing the blue-collar heritage of this district.

SHERRIE YOUNG: Some personal experiences that have qualified me for this position are the places I hold on many committee boards in the community, such as: Chessmen Club, ex-offender rehabilitation, Face Figure for Domestic Violence and many more. Being a public figure for Joblink is one of my greatest accomplishments seeing how I’ve referenced thousands to upgrade their career paths to generate more revenue for our city.

What have been decisions made by the General Assembly leaders that you wish would get another review?

The Opportunity Scholarship Program, aka known as “school vouchers.” This program is a failure as it diverts public money to private parochial schools with little oversight. The program costs taxpayers $45 million a year and is estimated to reach $145 million/year by 2027. The program also lacks the accountability requirements of non-public school voucher programs in other states. This money would be better spent on improving public schools.

SHERRIE YOUNG: Some decisions I’d like to take for re-review are justice system policies and procedures. 

What is your wish list for this district?

EDDIE ADAY: Increase in high tech manufacturing (pharmaceutical, medical device, etc.); increased apprenticeships/technical training to support high tech manufacturing; increased teacher pay and pre-K through community college funding; state minimum wage of no less than $15/hr.; affordable housing, mental health professionals deployed as first responders; support for local agriculture and rural broadband.

SHERRIE YOUNG: My wish list is to become elected to make a difference for District 59.