The Rev. Frank Sossamon said his more than three decades as a local pastor will serve him well if he’s elected to serve a different kind of flock – the residents of N.C. House District 32.
Sossamon has filed as a candidate for the House seat and will face incumbent Terry Garrison in next year’s election.
He and Garrison both put their hats into the ring before filings were suspended, pending a court ruling on whether the redrawn district maps would be upheld or would need to be changed again. Critics have charged that the new maps are gerrymandered and are partial to the Republican majority in the N.C. General Assembly.
The redrawn maps have District 32 covering all of Vance County and all but two southernmost precincts in Granville County. Sossamon told John C. Rose on Tuesday’s Town Talk that if he were elected, he would serve all the people in his district.
“I’m going to represent the people,” Sossamon said. “I am a Republican, and I am a conservative Republican, but in order to get things done…we’ve got to work for the greater good for the people we represent.”
He said he won’t be the type of politician that sits behind a desk. “I’ll be out meeting the public,” he said working to find ways to help solve problems and helping the community.
“I will be a very active, a very busy representative – that’s been my nature for 36 years in Vance County,” he said.
As a pastor in Vance County for all those years, he has vast experience in being a problem-solver. That, he said, along with his ability to listen, really listen, to people, will transfer into his role as representative if he is elected.
He said he wants to challenge, to encourage and motivate people in the community to make things better. “We can’t wait on Washington, or Raleigh…we can pull ourselves together and accomplish a lot of things” he said, adding that this effort could really become a model for others to emulate.
As for key issues facing the district, Sossamon ticked off economic development, infrastructure, improving the workforce, education and clean drinking water. And crime.
Infrastructure is a “major problem” in Vance, he said. “We need a lot of help.”
“I just feel like there are some things we can do to make our communities safer and to feel better about where we live,” Sossamon said.
There are many ways to work together across county lines to have mutual benefit, he said, adding that although Vance and Granville often compete for new business and industry, there are various ways that both counties can work together “to do some joint things regarding economic development. There are things we can do better together,” Sossamon said. He said he would like to sit down with leaders from across the district, identify strengths and weaknesses and then concentrate on the strengths to recruit business and industry.
Working together rather than becoming territorial doesn’t have to dampen the competitive spirit between counties, but Sossamon said he hopes “we can lay those things aside and have a conversation that can lead us to joint ventures.”
Improving the workforce, for example, is something that would make the area more attractive to business and industry. “We’ve got the community college to help us,” he said.
Improving the quality of the workforce not only will make the district more attractive, but it also could lower crime in the area as well, for example.
Sossamon said he hopes to bring “a fresh look, a new look…a new vision for the area.”
He doesn’t subscribe to the idea that ministers should steer clear of politics. On the contrary, he said, Christians across the nation are realizing the need to be involved in the greater community, whether in politics or in other capacities.
He decided to run for office after prayer and contemplation about just what he has to offer to help the district.
“There ought to be people lining up to serve” their communities, he said, challenging others to consider running for local office as well, “to bring fresh ideas that will help improve our community.”