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Former Shelby Mayor Ted Alexander announces campaign for state Senate

Ted Alexander

Staff Writer

Former Shelby Mayor Ted Alexander has become the third Republican candidate to announce a campaign for the 2018 North Carolina state Senate election for District 44.

“I had considered this a couple of years ago after I served as mayor when our district’s senator resigned,” Alexander said. “That opened up a vacancy and I started to consider it then as a way of possibly further serving this area. As it turned out, another person was selected to fill that slot, which was fine at the time, but I’ve had this in the back of my mind since then. Then, when I learned that Cleveland County was going to be placed in a new district, I felt like this was a good opportunity to go ahead and try to run.”

The legislative districts in North Carolina were altered last week following a ruling from a panel of three federal judges, which was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices determined that 28 districts were unconstitutional due to race-based gerrymandering. As a result, Senate District 44 — which previously included the entirety of Lincoln County, part of Iredell County and a small portion of Gaston County — now spans the entirety of both Cleveland County and Lincoln County, as well as that same small portion of Gaston County. Cleveland County was formerly included in Senate District 46, along with Burke County.

“I think that this is a good district and I’ll be able to represent all three counties equally,” Alexander said. “While I live in Cleveland County, I’ve certainly done work in Lincoln County and I have contacts there. I’ve covered Lincoln County as part of my full-time job, so I’ve been able to build relationships and friendships in Lincoln County over the years.”

Alexander, a Morganton native, earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and now serves as the western regional director for Preservation North Carolina, a nonprofit organization that promotes and protects historic buildings across the state, such as Laboratory Mill in Lincolnton. He was elected as mayor of Shelby in 2003 and held the office until 2011 when he made the decision to not run for re-election.

“My two terms as the mayor of Shelby helped me a lot in terms of getting very comfortable with the issues of economic development and growth,” Alexander said. “I also gained valuable experience serving my constituents because so many times people would turn to the mayor for various issues that confronted them and it was my duty to try and find a solution for them. I feel like that sort of relationship that I developed with the people of Shelby would serve well for the district I would represent at the state Senate level.”

Alexander has experience campaigning for high-profile offices after an unsuccessful bid in the 2014 Republican primary election for the United States Senate, in which he was defeated by Sen. Thom Tillis. He also currently serves as the chairman of the 10th Congressional District of the North Carolina GOP.

“Running for the United States Senate was a monumental undertaking for me, but I enjoyed it,” Alexander said. “It was the most difficult thing that I’ve done to date due to the sheer size of the state of North Carolina. I believe that having gone through that and having done relatively well, in my opinion, will make campaigning in three counties logistically more simple. Of course, you still want to reach out to as many people as you can and learn as much as you can about the different areas, but that’s more feasible when you’re only focused on one region.”

If elected, spurring economic development is among Alexander’s top priorities for serving the people of District 44. While the ultimate goal is to recruit new industry into the region, Alexander’s initial focus will be developing a workforce to attract new job opportunities.

“I think the thing that is probably first on most people’s lists is generally helping to create and increase the number of jobs and viable businesses,” Alexander said. “I believe that probably one of the larger obstacles that seems to be facing this region is that you need to have the training for those kinds of jobs you’re trying to recruit. We’re beginning to face a situation now where we’re having success recruiting businesses, and obviously we need to continue to prepare for that in terms of infrastructure, but part of that infrastructure is creating a workforce that is capable of supporting those businesses that we’re recruiting.”

Alexander has prioritized economic development on a statewide level as well and he believes that the role of the North Carolina General Assembly needs to be limited in order for the state to prosper.

“Along the same lines, I think that we need to reduce regulations and reduce the burden of our state government on businesses and the individual in order to attract businesses and allow them to grow,” Alexander said. “This goes hand in glove with the workforce development I was talking about, but we’ve really got to continue to emphasize good, solid education in our school systems. In order to do that we’ve got to adequately and appropriately reward our teachers.”

Alexander will join incumbent state Sen. David Curtis, a Denver Republican, and Lincoln County Commissioner Martin Oakes, also a Denver Republican, on the ballot for the 2018 Republican primary, scheduled for May 8. The general election will follow later next year on Nov. 6, 2018.

Image courtesy of Contributed

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