THIS STORY IS PRESENTED IN PART BY DRAKE DENTISTRY
Thomas “Tommy” Hester, Jr., lifelong Henderson native, long-serving Vance County Commissioner and local businessman, has announced that he will file for the NC Senate District Three seat in the 2020 election. The filing period begins Monday, December 2, 2019.
NC’s third district is currently represented by Democratic Senator Erica Smith-Ingram and includes Vance, Warren, Northampton, Bertie, Martin and Beaufort counties.
With Smith-Ingram expected to file for federal office as opposed to filing for reelection to the state senate, Hester said the time is right to seek an office that “can help bring jobs and education – the two most important factors in economic growth – to rural NC counties.”
All six of the counties comprising district three are considered Tier 1, a distinction that makes them among the most economically distressed in the state. Rankings are based on an assessment of a county’s unemployment rate, median household income, population growth and assessed property value per capita, according to the NC Department of Commerce.
As a resident and county commissioner in a Tier 1 county, Hester said he is prepared to bring jobs and education to the district and believes his experience on the North Carolina Golden Leaf Board of Directors and Chairman of the North Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority, in part, make him an ideal candidate.
“Being involved in Golden Leaf and being in Raleigh with the Rural Infrastructure Authority for six years has given me the background on what needs to be done to help rural counties,” stated Hester.
In addition to his many service roles in Vance County, Hester has connections to other rural NC counties including the three years he was stationed in Warren County as part of his 15 years of National Guard service and connections made through wife Jenny, a Northampton County native.
Locally, Hester has served the Henderson-Vance Economic Development Committee as its elected Board Chair. He was also named Henderson-Vance Chamber of Commerce’s Citizen of the Year in 2017 and has been recognized with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian award.
A Vance County Commissioner for 14 years, Hester said he will only resign the local office if he wins the senate seat. If elected, Hester would also be required to resign from the Golden Leaf Foundation and the Rural Infrastructure Authority.
Hester pointed to recent examples of growth in Vance County, many of which he was either directly or indirectly involved with, as proof that the tide can turn in counties categorized as “economically distressed.” Examples included:
- Expansion of the Henderson-Vance Industrial Park located off US-1
- Mako Medical Laboratories opening in Henderson, bringing 100+ jobs (to date)
- New Vance Charter School Building and Salvation Army Building in Henderson
- Wireless Broadband agreement to provide service to 95-98% of Vance County
- Vance County’s water expansion project, currently on phase 3
While he is proud of the strides made in Vance County in recent years, Hester said he also wants to help expand that growth to other rural counties via the third district senate seat.
“There’s no one running right now or announced to run except for me. I’m running for it because I care about NC and I care about rural counties. If we help one rural county, we are helping all surrounding counties.”
The general election for the North Carolina State Senate will be held on November 3, 2020. A primary is scheduled for March 3, 2020.
If elected, Hester would assume office the first day of the new General Assembly in January 2021. Members of the state senate serve two-year terms and are not subject to term limits.