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More women run in election races

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Nash County Commissioner Mary Wells

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Twin Counties mirrors state and national trends with more women running for office in the November midterm elections than ever before.

Most of the growth is seen among Democrats, but more Republican women are running as well, according to research from National Public Radio.

Nash County Commissioner Mary Wells has held office for eight years. The Democrat's in a reverse situation where she's being challenged by a male Republican. She said more woman are more confident in knowing they can make meaningful contributions to their communities and their country.

“Women’s voices are here to stay,” Wells said. “The same is true in other fields where women now have opportunities they didn’t have in the past, such as the world of sports.”

But it’s not just confidence and opportunity.

“Women are now receiving special encouragement to run. That encouragement is not only coming from other women but also from the men in their lives — their husbands, fathers, grandfathers, sons, their male co-workers, friends and others,” Wells said. “I’m grateful to all the men and women who have supported and encouraged me, especially my husband, my sons and daughter.”

State Rep. Bobbie Richardson, D-Franklin, is running for re-election in House District 7, which covers Franklin County and part of Nash County. She sees being a woman as a positive because she's able to bring a different background and perspective to the table than men who make up the majority of the General Assembly.

“Women everywhere are fed up with politicians who do not care about our children, education or health care,” Richardson said. “I think that this year is not an anomaly and we will continue to see record numbers of women running for office in the years to come.”

Richardson's Republican opponent is also a woman — Nash County Commissioner Lisa Barnes.

“Being female is a positive quality of my candidacy,” Barnes said. “I receive encouraging comments — especially from other women — on a regular basis regarding my decision to run. As a woman, my candidacy demonstrates to women across the state that women can be leaders. Not only am I able to be a role model for women of all ages who want to run for office, I also have the opportunity to use my voice to speak out on issues that are important to women voters across North Carolina.”

On a practical note, Barnes said timing was a key factor in deciding to run for higher office.

“My current election cycle as a county commissioner, the redistricting of Franklin and Nash counties and personal and family commitments were all taken into consideration before making the decision to run,” Barnes said.

Both candidates agree running against another woman isn't significant because candidates should be considered based on their priorities and views. Ultimately, the priority should the people.

Linda Coleman, Democratic candidate for U.S. House 2nd District of North Carolina, which includes Nash County, didn't respond to a questionnaire on women candidates before deadline.

As for more women running for office, the candidates are hopeful that this year's upswing is a continuing movement.

“I am hopeful that it is the beginning of a new trend,” Barnes said. “I have met women who are incredible leaders and I expect that increasingly more women will see the importance of running for office. The audiences at political events that I attend are disproportionately male and that is disheartening.

“I encourage everyone to get involved in government at any level, especially young people and women.”

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