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Moore, Robb stake out differences

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Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb speaks to those in attendence at a National Crime Victim's Right's Week presentation at Pitt County Courthouse on April 14, 2016. (Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflector)

Tony Moore

By Brian Wudkwych
The Daily Reflector

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Republicans vying for the state Senate District 5 seat are leaning on their differing experience as elected officials to convince voters in the waning days of the 2018 primary that they would be the region’s best advocate in the state legislature. 

Kimberly Robb, the current Pitt County district attorney, and Tony Moore, a former senator and longtime Winterville councilman, are facing off in Tuesday’s election for the seat currently held by Democrat Don Davis. 

Moore, 67, is a 20-year member of the Winterville Town Council and can trace his roots as a public servant back to time as a teacher and administrator in Pitt County Schools. He said that experience gives him a relevant perspective on issues concerning education. Chief among them is school security. 

“The biggest issue is school safety,” Moore said. “I think the state needs to fund officers at the school to make the school safer.”

Moore said he has spent 29 years training teachers and is confident that if elected, he would become the senate’s education chair. He said he would advocate for higher teacher pay as well. 

“Most teachers have such a tremendous debt when they graduate and you’re going to have a tough time getting teachers if you don’t pay,” he said. 

Robb, 55, who has spent the last six years as the Pitt County district attorney after serving as an assistant prosecutor for 20 years, agreed that teacher pay is a top priority. She sad North Carolina’s teachers should make what the national average is — about $58,000 in 2016-17, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. North Carolina teachers made, on average, $49,000 in that timeframe. 

“It is my opinion that we need to raise the teacher pay closer to the national average,” Robb said. “If we do not do that we cannot be competitive with our neighboring states. That’s got to be a priority.”

Robb, who also is advocating for increased per-pupil funding, said finding a way to provide more counselors and psychologists would also be a priority of hers. 

“We need more of those in the schools to help assist the teachers with teaching so that they’re not doing the counseling as well as the other things that they have to do now,” Robb said. 

While the two candidates agree that education funding, particularly teacher pay, needs to be improved, they differed on how they would bring jobs and growth to Pitt and Greene counties — the two counties included in the district when it was redrawn earlier this year.

Robb said she would focus on enticing small businesses. 

“I would keep taxes low on small businesses that power our state’s economy,” she said. “I would want to reduce regulations that hamper the private sector and I would create economic packages that would attract new companies to North Carolina, specifically Pitt and Greene.”

Moore said improving natural gas infrastructure would bring more jobs to the region. He pointed to a gas-powered electrical generating plant in the Piedmont which supplies power to the town of Winterville.

He also said he would be in favor of converting N.C. 13, which runs between Greenville, Snow Hill and Goldsboro, into a four-lane highway to make access to places in Greene County easier.

“More people would build homes in Greene County, especially Snow Hill, if you have a good road going there,” Moore said. “Two-lane roads hurt your development.”

Both candidates said they would be able to work across party lines to accomplish goals and both cited their experience as elected officials as proof. 

For Moore, he said sticking up for your party and constituents is important but compromise is a “must.” He said his time spent as a councilman should accurately reflect his ability to work with both parties.

“I hope I can bring less partisanship,” Moore said, “seeing both sides, you have to do it all the time in business to be successful. The way it works now, if we don’t have the right person in the General Assembly, we’ll get nothing done in Pitt County or Greene County.”

Robb said some partisanship is necessary but working together is important as well. She said her time as a district attorney has allowed her to work with different view points — a defense attorney and a prosecutor — to find a common a solution. 

“I think that’s one of the things that I would be good at, working with both Democrats and Republicans to try to achieve things,” Robb said. “That’s really what I’ve had to do for the last 30 years as a prosecutor.” 

With Election Day nearing, both candidates want their experience in their respective positions to do the talking. 

“I think I have a passion for eastern North Carolina,” Robb said. “I have the energy to bring resources back to eastern North Carolina and I would fight for eastern North Carolina. I already have established relationships in the General Assembly and I can work with those relationships to try to make eastern North Carolina relevant. When I’m up there I hear a lot about the big cities. I just need to make sure people don’t forget about eastern North Carolina and how important we are.”

Said Moore: “I’ve been elected six times. I’m from Pitt County, I’m an educator and a business person, too. I’ve had municipal experience, I’ve been in the General Assembly. That experience is important, knowing the players is important.”

The winner of the race will go on to face either the incumbent Davis or Lonnie Carraway when the Democratic primary wraps up.

Contact Brian Wudkwych at bwudkwych@reflector.com or 252-329-9567 and follow @brianwudkwych on Twitter.

Kimberly Robb

Age: 55

Address: Greenville

Website: http://www.robbforncsenate.com/

Current position: Pitt County District Attorney 

Political experience: DA for six years, assistant prosecutor for 20 years, current president for the Conference of DAs in NC

Tony Moore 

Age: 67

Address: Winterville

Website: http://www.senatortonymoore.com/

Current position: Winterville Town Councilman

Political experience: Five terms as a Winterville Town Councilman, one term as State Senator