Former commissioner Petty faces Kinsey in GOP’s Dist. 54 primary

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Former Chatham County Commissioner Walter Petty is seeking office again, but he’s aiming for the N.C. House of Representatives Dist. 54 seat, a two-year term to represent Chatham County and part of Randolph County, held by Rep. Robert Reives II since his appointment in January 2014.

But to get there, he’ll have to get past Pittsboro resident and business owner Craig Kinsey, a fellow Republican, in the May 17 GOP primary.

Kinsey originally declared to run for Chatham County’s U.S. House of Representatives district, but decided instead to run for the state representative office.

Walter Petty: Lifelong Siler City resident Petty served as a county commissioner for three four-year terms before resigning from the board in 2019 because of time commitments demanded by his expanding business, Atlantic Power Solutions.

Petty decided on a statewide seat after seeing Gov. Roy Cooper’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, in which Petty said Cooper “unilaterally took away our basic freedoms.”

“I never would have imagined that a Governor could prevent us from attending church, visiting our family or operating a business,” Petty said in responses to a questionnaire provided by the News + Record.

“He has continually ignored the will of the people. ... Our government structure was intended to be a democracy and not a dictatorship, and I’ll work hard to make sure the voices of N.C. voters aren’t ignored by our Governor.”

Petty said he was also concerned about the curriculum for North Carolina’s K-12 students, as well as parents who Petty claims are speaking out against “an indoctrination system for the ‘WOKE’” in public schools.

“We need a parents’ bill of rights passed in the legislature,” he said. “Our parents know what is best for their children, and we can’t allow their voices to be pushed aside any longer.”

Petty said he has three goals he would pursue if he were elected into office: increasing broadband access across Chatham County and the state, revamping North Carolina‘s tier system for economic development and co-sponsoring the aforementioned “Parents’ Bill of Rights” in the N.C. General Assembly.

“There are many challenges facing N.C. and Chatham,” he said, “but the most basic challenges in the state can be traced back to a Governor and a representative [Reives] with little regard to preserving basic rights guaranteed in the constitution and pushing our education system further and further away from actually teaching students how to learn.”

The former Chatham commissioner said his experience in an elected office is one of the main factors separating himself from Kinsey on the primary ballot.

“Over my years of serving as a commissioner, I’ve built strong relationships on both sides of the political aisle that will ensure I can make positive change for the district from day one,” Petty said. “I am a business owner that brings a common-sense approach to problem solving and finance … the district cannot negotiate from a distance; we have to have a seat at the table — we have to be prepared to hit the ground running.”

Craig Kinsey: Kinsey is the president and sole owner of Kinsey & Donian Marketing Inc., and he’s seeking his first public office this election.

He decided to seek the Dist. 54 seat to help combat the debt North Carolina has accumulated, as well as improve the state’s public education system.

“A 2019 study (The National Report Card) shows that 4th graders in N.C. are underperforming; only 40% were proficient in math and reading,” Kinsey said. “North Carolina’s future relies on educated young people.”

Kinsey said he has ideas to address education, including raising teacher pay, focusing on reading, writing and arithmetic, and providing school options such as public to private, parochial, charter schools and more.

“It is a sacred responsibility to the people of Chatham and Randolph Counties,” Kinsey said. “They are entrusting me to always make the best decisions that improve their lives by ensuring liberty, opportunity, prosperity and safety.”

Another Chatham issue Kinsey will focus on is infrastructure. He said he wants to ensure all Chatham residents can access better broadband, build better roads and ensure adequate water and sewage services for all residents.

“I want to collaborate with the local officials to develop a plan to prioritize a list of needs supported by a reasonable budget program funded by the state and local tax base,” he said.

Kinsey has not sought elected office before; he’s spent his work career in sales and marketing.

“I have been a sole business owner (for) 23 years,” Kinsey said. “I make decisions every day that affect the prosperity of my employees, and their families. I am always open to listening to advice from others to get perspective and ensure the best possible outcome.”

Kinsey said while getting into office is an uphill climb, he believes the people of Chatham and Randolph counties need someone like him to advocate for their needs to the governor.

“I promise to work hard for the citizens with regular reporting, attending every possible event and talking to as many people as possible to stay focused on what is important to them,” he said. “If elected to represent the people, my goal is not to be concerned about being reelected but focusing on accomplishing the aforementioned goals for the residents in Chatham and Randolph Counties. Getting elected is hard, but servicing the people is even harder.”

Reporter Taylor Heeden can be reached at theeden@chathamnr.com.

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