The primary election is more than three months away, but a pair of candidates is already emerging to challenge incumbent Lee K. Allen for his seat on the Craven County Board of Commissioners.
For his part, Allen said he is up for the challenge.
Current Havelock Commissioner George Liner and longtime Havelock resident Arland Bell both said last week that they would file to run for the District 6 seat on the county board.
Allen, 77, and Liner, 67, are both Republicans and would face each other in the May 6 primary, assuming both follow through and file to run. Bell, 69, a Democrat, may or may not face opposition in the primary. The general election is slated for Nov. 5.
Allen has been on the county board for 19 years and also served 11 years as a Havelock commissioner. He said last week that he was unaware of potential challengers.
“I have not asked and I don’t really care,” Allen said. “I run on my own initiative. I have my own list of accomplishments for Havelock and I guess they have theirs. All I’ve heard is rumors.”
Bell is the son of Roger Bell, a 28-year member of the Craven County School Board and 10-year member of the Craven Board of Commissioners. Bell is the namesake for Roger Bell Elementary School in Havelock.
“When I ran for county commissioner I took his father’s seat,” Allen said. “His dad used to give me haircuts.”
Arland Bell and Allen are neighbors, both living on Oakwood Drive in Havelock.
“My family has been in Havelock since 1949,” Arland Bell said. “I’m one of the few you’ll find around here that went to school here for 12 years.”
He said he thinks the people of Havelock need better service on the county board than they have been getting.
“We’re not getting what we need in Havelock,” Bell said. “I want to see the Havelock area receive parity in funding.”
Bell said that Allen “sold out his position” by agreeing to serve in a state health organization, saying it hurt his position in the county and thus negatively affected Havelock residents.
“In the process of compromising that way, we’ve given up opportunities that we had here,” Bell said. “Mr. Allen’s done a great job, but it’s time for a change.”
Liner agrees that change is needed after nearly 20 years with the same representative.
“There’s got to be a change. Twenty years is way too long,” he said. “You just have to have newer blood and thinking that you don’t have ownership of that seat.”
Liner also would like to see Havelock and Harlowe get their fair share of county financial support.
“I feel that we don’t have a big enough voice on the eastern end of Craven County,” Liner said. “I think I am strong and I am determined to get points across that affect all of the eastern portions of the county.
“I want to make sure that there’s a voice heard for the people in eastern North Carolina that the Craven County taxes are being used to support all of Craven County and not just a select portion of the county.”
In District 5, incumbent Craven commissioner Theron McCabe, a Democrat, has served two terms and said last week that he intends to file to run again. McCabe represents the Harlowe area and eastern Craven County.
The filing period begins Feb. 10 at noon and runs to Feb. 28 at noon. Potential candidates must live in the district in which they are filing. The filing fee is $115.44. Candidates who have filed must set up a financial committee within 10 days of filing.
Other local positions up for election this year include Craven County sheriff, three seats on the Board of Education, and N.C. Senate and N.C. House seats, among others.
For filing or other election information, call the Craven County Board of Elections at 636-6610 or go online to http://www.cravencounty.com/departments/elc.cfm.