On Nov. 6, Pitt County voters will cast ballots in this year’s general election. Today, The Daily Reflector offers its editorial board recommendation in three Council of State races.
Responsibility for the financial operations of state government, including the state employees’ pension fund, demands an official with experience and skill, and voters have a relatively easy decision when choosing between first-term incumbent Janet Cowell, the Democrat, and Republican challenger Steve Royal.
Cowell, 44, came to the post after serving two terms in the state Senate. With an MBA from Penn’s prestigious Wharton Business School, Cowell helped navigate a difficult economy, maintaining the state’s AAA bond rating while protecting the retirement for thousands of current and former state employees.
Royal, 61, is a certified public accountant from Elkin who has backed the fringe initiative of establishing a regional currency in case of global economic collapse.
North Carolina need not dabble in such frivolity with so much at stake. Cowell remains the best choice.
The race for secretary of state finds Democrat Elaine Marshall, a four-term incumbent, facing Republican challenger Ed Goodwin.
Marshall, 66, became the first woman elected to statewide office when she won this post in 1996. Her time in office has been without serious blemish as she has excelled in providing oversight to the state’s business and economic interests.
Goodwin, 60, is an East Carolina University graduate who is chairman of the Chowan County commissioners. He argues that Marshall could do more to improve the business climate in North Carolina, but offers few details on how the secretary of state should accomplish that.
Though the east would love a native son in this post, Marshall remains the responsible pick.
Finally, the campaign for labor commissioner pits three-term incumbent Cherie K. Berry, a Republican, against Democrat and former labor commissioner John Brooks.
Brooks, 75, is a native of Greenville who served 16 years as the head of the Department of Labor. He was on the job for the deadly 1991 Hamlet chicken processing plant fire and leveled a then-record fine as a result. His concern for workers is undeniable and his determination to enforce existing regulations is unquestioned.
Berry, 65, served in the N.C. House before winning her post in 2000. She supports reducing the regulatory burden on business, but does so though lenient enforcement rather than by direction of the Legislature, as proven by a critical 2010 assessment of the state’s worker safety program issued by the U.S. Department of Labor.
Enforcement of existing regulations and taking worker safety seriously are basic expectations of this position, and what makes Brooks the better choice.