Democrat Brian Turner files to run in House District 116. The filing period started Monday and will end Feb. 28. Turner will face Republican incumbent Rep. Tim Moffitt in the fall. No other Democrat filed for the office on Monday. / Jon Ostendorffemail@example.com
ASHEVILLE — The election season in North Carolina officially kicked off Monday with the start of the candidate filing period.
Brian Turner, the Democrat running against Republican incumbent Rep. Tim Moffitt in House District 116, was among the first candidates to file in Buncombe County.
His family was with him at the Board of Elections.
“I look forward to spending the next 10 months focusing on issues like education, jobs and protecting our mountains and rivers,” he said.
Democrat John Ager announced Monday he would run against Republican incumbent Rep. Nathan Ramsey in House District 115.
Both men are farmers who live just miles apart. They even have land that touches. Ager owns Hickory Nut Gap Farm, and Ramsey runs a dairy farm.
Ager, like Turner, said public education is an important issue in his campaign.
The education budget passed by the Republican-controlled General Assembly was raised over 2012 levels, but not enough to keep pace with enrollment and inflation.
Ramsey voted against the budget, though Ager said the incumbent has voted with the Republicans for the most part.
“He is running as a moderate Republican, but when he goes down to Raleigh, he has been voting with the very partisan Republican legislature that I think sort of bedevils our state,” Ager said.
Three Buncombe County commissioners are also up for re-election under a law that created districts in 2012.
Democrats Brownie Newman and Ellen Frost have said they will run for re-election. Republican David King is also running again.
Newman, in District 1, said in a written statement that he has established himself as a leader on clean energy and public schools, among other issues. He also touted his work to reduce the county’s carbon footprint by 80 percent.
Democrat Keith Young plans to challenge Newman in the primary. He could not be immediately reached, but his campaign website says he believes in economic growth through government working with the private sector, among other issues.
Frost, in District 2, said she had not heard that she would have a primary challenger but does expect a Republican challenger in the general election. “We have accomplished a tremendous amount in just one year, and I look forward to a great re-election campaign,” she said.
Christina Merrill, who lost a close race to Frost in the last election, said Monday she would run again. She plans to file soon. She said the county tax increase and bigger government budget are evidence that the board is not acting with fiscal responsibility.
“I think you just have to look at where we are at, and everybody needs to ask themselves are you better off than after the 2010 election, and the answer is no,” she said.
King, in District 3, is facing opposition from the far right. The Asheville Tea Party is actively seeking a candidate to run against him in the primary, said Jane Bilello, president of the group.
The group does not like the tax increase the board approved or spending millions in public money to attract GE Aviation to the county, she said.
King said he’s proud of the board’s record.
“I have been supportive of public schools and economic opportunity,” he said. “I have worked diligently to bring new businesses here and keep businesses here.”
Ramsey and Moffitt were not immediately available. Both have said they are running for re-election.
Filing ends Feb. 28.
Democrats in Western North Carolina also have plans to challenge Republican incumbents in Senate District 50, Senate 48 and House 118.