North Carolina Representative John Szoka has filed to run for the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners At-Large seat.
Szoka told Up & Coming Weekly that after five terms of representing North Carolina's 45th District in the state's House of Representatives, he believes it is time to come back to the county level.
"I bring that knowledge of who I can talk to in state government to make things happen in a positive manner for our county," Szoka said. "I think more people need to go to this state first and then come back to the county one elected. I think I'll be able to help the county move forward in a faster way, perhaps than it's been."
The biggest issues that Szoka wants to tackle, if elected, are bringing water and sewer systems to the whole county and dealing with the Grays Creek PMPA-infected water.
"I've worked very hard on those at the state level trying to get resolution and working to get water, to clean water to the residents of Grays Creek. But really, that's a county issue," Szoka said. "So one of my priorities as a county commissioner will be to get the county commission to more than just talk about getting water out there, but actually taking effective steps to make it happen.
He previously was running for the Congressional District 4 seat before the redistricting lawsuits were filed and the North Carolina Supreme Court drew new maps in late February. He opposed the new congressional map as it separated Fort Bragg and the Sandhills area. The new district Szoka would run for, if he wanted to go to the U.S. House of Representatives, would have been District 9, however, Rep. Richard Hudson is already running for the seat and he did not want to run against Hudson.
North Carolina Rep. Diane Wheatley said that Szoka's knowledge and relationships he has gained in the state legislature as well as his experience in finance and his personal work ethic will make him an outstanding member of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners. Wheatley and Szoka worked together in the state's House of Representatives as well as on the Cumberland County Legislative Delegation.
"We are very fortunate that John Szoka has decided to run for County Commissioner," Wheatley told Up & Coming Weekly. "I look forward to working with John to help improve the lives of the citizens of Cumberland County."
Other people running for the at-large seat include Commissioner Larry Lancaster, Marshall Faircloth, Jackie Paul-Ray, Paul Taylor, Veronica B. Jones, and Ron Ross.