WEST JEFFERSON — A little less than one year after securing his seat as representative for the 93rd district of the N.C. House of Representatives, Rep. Ray Russell announced his candidacy for re-election Thursday, Oct. 17, at the Ashe Arts Center.
During his speech, Russell spoke about the N.C. Democratic Party's goal to secure the majority of seats in the N.C. state legislature in the 2020 election, as well as updates on the state budget, ongoing legislation and his reasons for deciding to run for re-election.
"Every day, top of mind, I'm thinking how can I best represent the people of Ashe and Watauga counties in Raleigh," Russell said.
Since being elected on Nov. 6, 2018, Russell said he has sponsored or co-sponsored 125 bills, while also becoming the first Freshmen Democrat to have a bill passed into law.
"I am so much in debt for putting your trust in a guy who had never run for office before," Russell said. "You shared my dream, and now I just want to spend my time helping people in this district fill their dreams."
In the 2018 election, Russell defeated four-term incumbent Jonathan Jordan and became the first Democrat in 10 years to win a multi-county election in the northwestern part of the state. In addition, 12 counties were flipped in favor of the Democratic Party, breaking the Republican super majority in the N.C. House.
"All that hard hard work that we did wasn't just for ourselves," Russell said. "We did it for our neighbors, for our children, for our college students and generations yet to come."
Among policies Russell said he hopes to continue focusing on if re-elected are health care, education, clean air/water and a brighter economic future for rural parts of the state.
Russell added that a lot of work still needs to be done, such as medicaid expansion, teacher pay, addressing climate change, rural economic growth and government transparency.
Regarding the state budget impasse, Russell expressed concerns about the tactics he said Republican legislators have been using in reworking the budget after the House voted to override Gov. Roy Cooper's veto on Sept. 11. In total, 64 members voted in the early morning session, just over half of the House's 120 members.
"They could not win a fair fight," Russell said.
With that concern in mind, Russell emphasized the N.C. Democratic Party's goal to secure the majority of seats in both the N.C. House and Senate in the upcoming election.
"We think we can do that," Russell said. "We have to hold every one of these seats and win six more."
He added that with the Wake County Superior Court ruling, issued on Sept. 3, that many of the state’s Republican-drawn House and Senate districts were illegal partisan gerrymanders under the N.C. Constitution, new district maps could prove to be beneficial for the Democratic Party's goal in the 2020 election.
A Republican candidate for the 93rd N.C. House Seat has not yet been announced, and former Rep. Jonathan Jordan confirmed in an Oct. 18 phone call that he will not be running for the N.C. House of Representatives in the 2020 election.