Democrat George Graham has been an elected member of Lenoir County Board of Commissioners since 1982.

Democrat George Graham has been an elected member of Lenoir County Board of Commissioners since 1982 and was elected in August by the Democratic Executive Committee of newly redistricted N.C. House District 12 to fill the ballot slot left open with the death of longtime N.C. Rep. William Wainwright.

As a result, Grahamís time to campaign has been short because of the nature of his entrance into the race.

But he is well-known in Lenoir County and, since he is retired, said he has steadily traveled the district, which also includes parts of Craven and Greene counties.

"Iíve always been interested in state government and have learned a lot by working in county government," Graham said. "County government and state government are so closely related I feel like itís a natural progression for me to work at the state level to help accomplish some of the things we need to accomplish locally."

He said he had not previously considered running for the post because he thought the district was well-served by Wainwright.

But one "key thing" Graham said he wants to work on should he go to Raleigh is "unfunded mandates" passed from the state to local governments. He has directly seen the financial weight of those on taxpayers in Lenoir County, he said.

Although a lifetime Democrat, he said, "I donít have a problem working across the aisle."

As a retired educator, he said he supports public education and does not advocate a school voucher system.

Graham said he knows the value of the militaryís presence in Eastern North Carolina and said, "I would urge extreme caution with programs that could negatively impact the military," including wind projects that should be well placed to avoid conflicting with military aircraft.

Graham said he thinks that N.C. Education Lottery funds are important to counties and "to go in and take those funds away from us places a tremendous burden on our local budgets, and we need to have those funds restored."

He also thinks that a source other than the gas tax should be used to fund transportation but he said he opposes murmurs that counties could have more responsibility in funding road work and road projects.

"One thing that I would not be in favor of is passing it down to local governments," he said. "That is not a good idea ó counties cannot manage a road program for the state and should not have to."

Graham said he has been a longtime public servant and in Raleigh "will continue to be an advocate for education, economic development, veteran affairs, health care and senior citizen issues."

Graham said he supports present use tax value on farmland and no addition of sales tax on farm goods, including fertilizer, seed, and farm use fuel.

"Eastern North Carolina will play an extremely important role as we move forward," he said. "We need to be supportive of the farmers and recognize that we have a very strong agricultural base and we need to continue to promote that base. It is the number one industry in the state and needs to be protected and pushed."