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Soil & Water winners focus on flood control

Candace Pearce
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Candace Pearce

John H. Steadman

By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The two winners in Pitt County’s Soil and Water Conservation District supervisors election say they are ready to work to protect the community’s waters and farmland.

Candace Pearce and John Steadman received the most votes in Tuesday’s Soil and Water Conservation District race.

This year’s contest was unique because five individuals filed to run for two open seats. Longtime board member C. Leroy Smith said earlier this year he could not remember when a such a large slate of candidates ran for the board. In 2016, no one filed in the election to fill an unexpired term on the soil and water board.

Pearce received 26,094 votes and Steadman received 14,959 votes.

Scott Carpenter received 12,403 votes, incumbent Carl A. Briley received 10,958 votes, W. Steve Sutton received 9,292 votes and 866 votes were cast for write-in candidates.

“I’ve been in this town and have been doing volunteer work and service work since I was 16 years old,” Pearce said. “There are a lot of people who knew me and whether they liked me or not, they knew I was going to work hard.”

Steadman attributed his win to the fact that the Pitt County Democratic Party included endorsements of him and Pearce in their candidate’s guide.

The board, along with district staff, develops and carries out a comprehensive natural resource conservation program in Pitt County, including setting program priorities, according to the agency’s website. The board has three elected supervisors and two members appointed by the state Soil and Water Commission. On Tuesday voters selected their top two choices and the two individuals with the most votes won.

Steadman believes flooding brought on by Hurricane Matthew, and to a lesser extent Hurricane Florence and periodic thunderstorms had voters looking at individuals who want to address the issue.

“I think that’s on everybody’s mind in the city of Greenville and also on the other side of the river. They have some real problems with flooding in Belvoir and Pactolus,” Steadman said.

“We had so many storms since (Hurricane) Floyd, even heavy thunderstorms can create problems, it’s a topic of concern,” he said.

“People realize we live in a coastal floodplain and if we don’t do something to try and make it better hurricanes will get us always,” Pearce said.

“I want Greenville and Pitt County to be very mindful of the fact that farming is a huge industry in Pitt County. It’s why we’re here,” Pearce said. Careful consideration must be given to how urban development occurs said farmland and the agricultural sector can be protected.

“We are also worrying about where the water goes and what are we doing to make water a problem in Pott County,” she said. “Whatever it is we need to stop making water more of a problem than it naturally would be.”

Steadman said while the conservation board has no authority over development, it can with staff to find ways to minimize the effects of stormwater runoff.

Contact Ginger Livingston at glivingston@reflector.com or 252-329-9570.