We have federal, state, district, and local candidates to vote for in the 2020 election. All have phone banking and canvassing volunteer sessions planned. And you can donate to help their campaigns on their websites.
MEET THE CANDIDATES
Catawba County School Board
School Board of Catawba County Schools
Jeff Taylor is a candidate for Catawba County Board of Education. With a 31 year career in Catawba County Schools, he is an experienced candidate who is prepared to serve students.
Jeff began his career in education as a social studies teacher at Bunker Hill High School in the fall of 1984, where he continued as a classroom teacher until 2000. During his time at the eastern Catawba County school Jeff taught Psychology, Local History and History of the Bible but his primary areas of focus were United States History and Civics.
In 2007 Jeff was asked to return to Bunker Hill as principal, where he served until 2013. During his tenure at Bunker Hill the school saw a stabilizing of the teaching staff and underwent several significant construction projects, including classroom additions, a new cafeteria and overhaul of the athletic facilities. Also, while at Bunker Hill Jeff served as Catawba County School’s representative on the Region VII Principal’s Advisory Council.
In 2013 Jeff was again asked to move schools as administrator, this time at St. Stephens High School. This was an assignment that was especially meaningful to Jeff as St. Stephens was the alma matre of his two daughters Erin (2011) and Anna (2013). Jeff retired from Catawba County Schools with 31 years of service in 2015.
“Students, educators and our community as a whole must have vibrant and effective public schools if we are to continue as a destination where people choose to come work, live and play”, says Taylor.
School Board of Catawba County Schools
After working with different counties and having witnessed the lack of staff diversity in local schools, it has become culturally obvious that our schools can do better.
As a Human Service Technologist in Substance Abuse Counseling, it is my opinion that at least 40-70 percent of students in Catawba County are affected by some form of behavioral health disparities and/or developmental disabilities. As your Catawba County candidate for the Board of Education, I want to ensure ALL teachers and administrators are fully trained in social and emotional learning curriculum. These disparities create difficulties for individuals and collectively our system of education.
We have to consider the social and emotional well-being of our educators and students post COVID-19. I encourage everyone to review the link below. It highlights some of the Health and Human Services, to ensure services continue with minimal negative impact during this state of emergency.
Catawba County Commissioners
Jerome Josh Simpkins
My name is Jerome Josh Simpkins Jr. I was born in Hialeah, Florida and raised in Miami. My parents are Jerome & Dorothy Simpkins; who both passed away several years ago. I attended Rainbow Park Elementary, Miami Lakes Junior High and Miami Lakes Senior High School in Hialeah, Florida.
I was a student-athlete, playing football, basketball, and track. Upon graduating from high school I received a full athletic scholarship to play football at Wake Forest University. I attended Wake Forest University in 1992. I graduated from Wake Forest University in 1997 with a B.A. in Communications.
After graduating from Wake Forest University, I was offered a sales position working for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals in 1997. The job required relocation to Hickory, North Carolina. After making Hickory, North Carolina my home, I met my wife Mrs. Kendra J. Simpkins in August of 1997. She and I were married on June 17, 2000.
Kendra and I have two boys, Jerome and Justin Simpkins. Our oldest son Jerome (age 19) attends East Carolina University, in Greenville, NC, and our youngest son, Justin is a high school junior at Fred T Foard High School. After working for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals for six years; I decided to become a financial advisor. I worked for several companies such as Edward Jones and Wells Fargo, during that time I also became an entrepreneur. I started a new business in the financial arena called JS Tax Service in January 2007. In January 2009, I opened several more JS Tax Service locations within the state of North Carolina. Finally, In 2015, I started a tax preparation software firm called Total Tax Software, LLC.
I decided to run for office in Catawba County to improve housing affordability and availability for commercial and residential opportunities. I would like to see Catawba County become more progressive providing more jobs and housing affordability.
My name is Gabriel Sherwood and I am a candidate for Catawba County’s Board of Commissioners. I am a father, a trained and experienced leader in the public and private sectors, and a student of each of you and your perspectives.
Service is a tradition in my family, and I am proud to be a 5th generation military veteran and the third generation to run for public office. Having lived and worked across our great nation, I find myself happy to have settled here and look forward to working with each of you to more our county forward.
Catawba County was our refuge. My children and I arrived here just over a decade ago during another economic collapse, refugees from a lost business and livelihood in need of a haven. Here I have raised them, and they have raised me, while I have educated myself at CVCC and NC State respectively and found professional and personal success in service to our communities.
For years I have served in various capacities with 3rd Rock Plumbing, the Rotary Club of Hickory, Hickory Young Professionals, the Catawba County NAACP, the Chamber of Commerce, and our Catawba County Democratic Party, and will bring the lessons learned to our county government.
From tending to the health and safety needs of our citizens on a daily basis, to organizing our county for Secretary Clinton’s Campaign, to serving as both 3rd and 2nd Vice Chair of your county party, and on to serving as Campaign Manager for Dr. Ric Vandett’s NC Senate run, I have grown to understand and care deeply for the people of Catawba County and the future we are building here together.
I ask for your help, I ask for your ideas and passion, and I ask for your vote on election day to represent you on our Board of Commissioners.
NC General Assembly
NC Senate, 42nd District
I am running as a Democrat for the 42nd Senate seat of NC. To be truthful this is the first time I have run for any office.
I am a hard-working African-American woman, who has worked 2 jobs for 20+ years while also being a single-parent mother raised in a single-parent household in poverty. I know what it's like to struggle and push to make ends meet. and I have faced many hardships like many of you have faced or currently facing now. I know what it's like to do without and wonder how or where the money is going to come from to pay for utilities and rent. To try to figure out how you're going to put food on the table so you're kids don't go hungry. What it's like when you can't afford to take your child to the doctor, because you don't have the extra money. When the welfare system turns you down because you make too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to pay your child's doctor bill.
I am running for office to help Gov. Cooper with the expansion of Medicaid, so that single-parent mothers like me, won't have to go through the same situations my children and I faced, especially now that so many people are in need of medical treatment for COVID-19. To help with mental treatment that is associated with this pandemic.
Also, I'm running for our teachers who help educate and mentor our children - teaching, raising, and caring for our children. You all know the saying: "You get what you pay for"? That's why I will be fighting for better wages for our teachers plus their retirement benefits.
I'm running to support our honest law enforcement and fire fighters who put their lives on the line for us everyday.
I'm confident that with you on my side, the change will come. My hope is that you will have faith in me, support me, and feel assured I will represent our districts to the best of my ability, and keep your best interest as my goal. May GOD bless America...
NC House, 96th District
I live right here in Catawba County. I’m a small business owner, a concerned citizen, and most importantly, a parent. My goal is that all of our children grow up in a North Carolina that provides exceptional schools that meet the needs of every student from preschool through college, offers meaningful, fulfilling, and well-paying jobs, and delivers quality affordable healthcare for all its citizens, including those facing opioid addiction and mental health challenges.
I am not a politician. I am an ordinary person who wants to work with you to do extraordinary things for our community and state.
When I was growing up in New Jersey, my father directed a Presbyterian camp. For 10 years, I lived and worked there, absorbing the simple and important values that were the essence of the camp: treat others as they wish to be treated, and that we are all called in this life to serve the least of those among us.
Those are values you don’t hear much about in politics these days. Yet, I believe they should be the guiding principles for our community and for our state. Yes, we want what’s best for ourselves and our families, but we can also want what’s best for all of us.
I received my B.S. in design from the University of Delaware and my A.A.S. in design from the Fashion Institute of Technology. A few years into my career, I landed in the hosiery industry and worked for Liz Claiborne and Cole Haan. That was my springboard to move to Hickory to work for Ellis Hosiery, which offered me the opportunity to lead its design department.
I moved to Hickory in 1999 and have not looked back. The move enabled me to grow professionally and personally. The industry has experienced a lot of change, but I am excited to work with entrepreneurs and be a part of growing momentum in the textile industry.
As I take this journey to serve the 96th District, I want to hear from you about the issues that are most important to you. I want to know what is working for you and what is not. Most of all, I want to work with you to create a better state for you, me, and our children.
NC House, District 89
Greg Cranford is a 1977 graduate of Newton-Conover High School and a 1981 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill.
My main reasons for running are to give voters a progressive choice and if elected to be a legislative ally of Governor Cooper who is trying to move our state forward. I would like to see North Carolina regain its reputation as the most progressive southern state. Legislative action is needed for advancements in education, economics and equal rights so our state will be a beacon of hope and prosperity for all of its citizens.
I will support increased funding for public education and oppose efforts that are aimed at privatizing our public education system. I will advocate the elimination of standardized testing in our public schools. A child is more than a test score. Teachers need to be able to run their own classrooms and not be micromanaged by administrators who have to be obsessed with test scores.
I will advocate a $15 minimum wage for North Carolina. I know this would be a hardship for small business owners. I doubt North Carolina will mandate a $15 minimum wage in the near future; but advocacy of this proposal will hopefully encourage all employers in the state to pay their low wage workers higher wages. This will create more spendable income for people to meet their basic needs and help grow the economy for everyone.
I will support legislation prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ individuals. House Bill 2 was an embarrassment for our state. North Carolina can join the list of progressive states by ensuring equal rights for LGBTQ individuals.
Obamacare is a good start but it is not perfect. However, North Carolina needs to do its part for funding Obamacare. Health care is a very complex issue. However, I hope one day we will have a Medicare for All program and everyone can receive medical, dental and vision care for free funded by our tax dollars. Let us put people before profits
I hope to provide better constituent service for residents in North Carolina House District 89. I will be someone who will listen and reply. Hopefully, I can help people resolve issues they may have with state government.
One legislator by himself in the minority party of a General Assembly controlled by ultra right-wing conservative Republicans will not make a big difference. However, if Democrats can gain control of the General Assembly, it will make a big difference in helping our state progress with programs that will meet the needs of everyone.
David Wilson Brown
U.S. House of Representatives,
David Wilson Brown, Democratic candidate for the 5th Congressional District of North Carolina, is an IT consultant who is ready to serve.
David has been a resident of North Carolina for over 30 years, attending South Mecklenburg High School and earning a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Communications from Appalachian State University in 1996.
While attending school at App State,
David interned on Capitol Hill for Congresswoman Sue Myrick (R- NC9). He has maintained his passion for politics, but his career got drawn into other areas related to communications, including a year at WBTV, working in corporate media production, and as a web developer.
Now David is a full-time IT consultant specializing in business productivity as well as a husband to his wife, Barbara, and father to his two kids. It is because of grave concern for the future for his kids that he feels the call of public service once again.
David Wilson Brown’s grassroots campaign is based on the two overriding principles of vision and fairness. His vision is of a country that works for ALL citizens, not just the wealthy and well-connected. He recognizes the intrinsic fairness of insuring ALL citizens have quality health care, a good education and living wages. The residents of District 5 know that Washington is not working for them. David’s plan for a Better Road Forward will use his vision for positive change.”
Cal Cunningham is an Army veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, business leader, and former legislator who served as Vice Chairman of the Governor’s Crime Commission.
Raised in Lexington, Cal is a lifelong North Carolinian who grew up learning the value of public service and hard work. After earning his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Cal returned to Lexington with his wife Elizabeth to raise a family.
At the age of 27, Cal was elected one of the state’s youngest State Senators. Over the course of his term in the legislature, Cal fought for smaller class sizes, higher teacher pay, and investments in early childhood education and our university and community college system. Cal was also a leading advocate for landmark clean air legislation, land preservation, and campaign finance reform.
After the attacks on September 11, 2001, Cal volunteered to join the U.S. Army Reserve and has since served three active duty tours, including overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was awarded the Bronze Star and the prestigious General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award, in part for groundbreaking work prosecuting contractors for criminal misconduct.
Cal and Elizabeth now live in Raleigh with their two high school-aged kids, Caroline and Will.
U.S. House of Representatives,
David Parker is a businessman, lawyer and developer from Iredell County. He has served as an elected member of the Iredell-Statesville School Board, Moderator of the Salem Presbytery in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and Chaired the North Carolina Democratic Party in 2012 when North Carolina hosted the DNC Convention in Charlotte.
David graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Bachelors degree in Economics and a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. He began his legal career as a prosecutor, trying over 3,000 charges in trials. As an attorney, he has tried commercial, family law and Workers Compensation cases across North Carolina.
An Eagle Scout, David has been active in his community as Clerk of Session for his Church, Chair of the Mitchell Community College Board and internationally as a member of US trade delegations to Taiwan (Republic of China), Germany, and to Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
As a businessman, David has innovated Co-Working space in Charlotte and developed nearly 600 apartments on Lake Norman, employing hundreds of construction workers from counties in the 10th District.
David has been married for 38 years to Sally with three children and four granddaughters.
COUNCIL OF STATE
Roy Cooper is a trusted leader and family man who is honored to serve as North Carolina’s Governor.
Roy Cooper has spent nearly three decades in public service protecting families, keeping communities safe, and working to create jobs and improve schools. The son of a school teacher, he knows that education creates opportunity and he has worked throughout his career to strengthen our schools and create a sound foundation for our state’s children.
In the NC House and Senate, Roy Cooper fought to increase teacher pay and reduce class sizes. He wrote North Carolina’s first children’s health insurance initiative. During his service in the legislature, Roy Cooper worked with members of both parties to get balanced budgets that raised teacher pay to the national average, grow the economy and cut taxes for middle class families.
In 2000, the people of North Carolina elected Roy Cooper as Attorney General, where he continued to fight for families during his four terms. He cracked down on child predators, worked to increase penalties for drug dealers, and oversaw a sharp decrease in crime. He partnered with law enforcement and school administrators to make schools safer, and helped protect victims of domestic violence and stalking. He also made protecting consumers a priority, fighting to keep utility rates low, put predatory lenders out of business, and help families fend off telemarketers.
Roy Cooper entered public service to fight for communities like the one where he grew up. Born and raised in Nash County, he attended public schools and worked summers on the family farm before attending UNC-Chapel Hill on a Morehead Scholarship. His mother, Beverly Cooper, worked as a school teacher, and his father, Roy Cooper Jr., farmed and practiced law.
After earning a law degree from UNC, Roy Cooper returned home to Nash County to practice law and, with his wife Kristin, raise three daughters – Hilary, Natalie, and Claire.
Yvonne Lewis Holley
Representative Yvonne Lewis Holley was born in Raleigh and was part of the changing south. Early in her life, she learned the values of hard work, dedication and honor. It was learning from her parents the importance of public service and courage that serve as motivation today. Her mother stressed the importance of education and strength while her father was a living example of community leadership. With these roots, she brings a history of reverence, hope and accountability to public service.
Educated in the Wake County Public School System, Yvonne is an advocate for education. As a student at Enloe High School, she was one of the first students of desegregation. While there were many difficult days, she was able to cross barriers one relationship at a time to build friendships.
Yvonne's heart for public service includes twenty-five years dedicated to working as a state government employee. This life path is a direct link from a humble beginning of community awareness. Yvonne currently serves as Representative of the 38th District of the North Carolina State House.
One of the most notable accomplishments during Representative Holley’s tenure in the NC House has been the extensive work to relieve Food Deserts in areas across the state. She gathered support from both sides of the aisle; Democrats, Republicans and Independents, to achieve what others hadn’t. Her efforts resulted in funding to support closing the gap in food insecure areas. Her skill and influence brought parties together to battle a common issue and garnered bipartisan support. This is the leadership we need in 2020 and forward!
Josh Stein has the experience and values the people of North Carolina need in their Attorney General. Josh has consistently taken on powerful interests to protect families. Just as he has his entire career, as Attorney General, he will put the people of North Carolina first.
As Attorney General, Josh Stein is promoting public safety, preserving clean air and water, fighting for our healthcare, and protecting seniors and consumers. As AG, Josh is leading multi-state litigation to combat the opioid crisis, safeguard privacy for social media users, and stop unwanted robocalls. Josh has also sought justice for victims of sexual assault by testing backlogged rape kits and defended the right to vote of all North Carolinians.
Josh’s work in the Senate and at the Attorney General’s office builds on a career dedicated to public service.
After earning his law and public policy degrees from Harvard University, Josh worked with the Self-Help Credit Union, transforming abandoned drug houses in Durham into affordable single-family homes, and the North Carolina Minority Support Center, raising capital to invest in small businesses across North Carolina.
Josh and his wife Anna have been married for more than 20 years and they have three children – Sam, Adam, and Leah. He and Anna both attended North Carolina public schools, and so do their kids.
Secretary of State
In 1996, Elaine Marshall became the first woman elected to a statewide executive branch office in North Carolina. She immediately established herself as a competent administrator with an eye toward reform. She has received national recognitions for modernizing the Secretary of State’s office by introducing up to date technology and reducing red tape.
Since taking office, Elaine has cut the costs of doing business in North Carolina—helping small businesses create jobs and enabling free enterprise and capital formation. She has led the effort to reform North Carolina’s lobbying laws. Elaine remains committed to making public information transparent and accessible to businesses, investors and individuals. Her efforts have helped make North Carolina one of the most affordable places in the United States to do business.
The Secretary of State’s office today is a key law enforcement agency protecting consumers, investors, and charitable givers against fraud and scams. Elaine's commitment to protecting investors has led to long prison terms for criminals and has refunded over $1 billion from major Wall Street firms for misrepresentation to North Carolina investors. She also has received international recognition for her efforts protecting trademark holders, eliminating harmful and dangerous counterfeit goods and prosecuting counterfeiters.
Elaine was previously a teacher and small business owner.
Born in rural Lineboro, Maryland, Elaine’s father was a farmer who served as a fire department officer following his active volunteer firefighter days and served on the local church board, while her mother taught music lessons and was the organist in the family’s small rural church for more than 60 years.
Beth Wood is a long-time public servant with over 30 years of auditing experience. The first woman elected to that office, Beth has served as State Auditor since 2009. She previously worked in the State Auditor’s Office for more than a decade and also served in the State Treasurer’s Office. Prior to state government, Beth worked with Rayovac Corporation, as a CPA with McGladrey & Pullen and was the CFO for a North Carolina-based furniture company.
During her prior time in the State Auditor’s Office, Beth was instrumental in bringing the state’s compliance supplements up to federal standards and ensuring that federal grants are being used as intended. She was a leader in redesigning the Auditor’s Office training program to make training more relevant to state auditors’ work. And she helped develop employee evaluations that better reflected the job performance of Auditor’s Office employees.
She taught a variety of professional courses for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the North Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants (NCACPA). Beth has taught CPAs across the state and the nation how to audit governmental organizations, including the concept of risk-based auditing. She served on the AICPA Steering Committee for its annual Government and Not for Profit Conference.
Like most natives of rural North Carolina, Beth's first "job" consisted of helping on the family farm located near Cove City in Craven City. After graduating from community college, Beth went to work as a dental hygienist, but after a few years decided she wanted to complete a four-year college degree and enter the world of finance.
I want to be your next Treasurer to improve the lives of all North Carolinians. The State Treasurer protects North Carolina’s pension investments, manages the state employee health plan, and approves municipal and state bonds. My background as a business strategy professor at Duke University, adviser to some of the world’s leading organizations, and White House economic adviser to President Obama has prepared me to do this job.
I believe North Carolina’s next Treasurer should be a leader on the issues that matter most. We can invest responsibly in companies that expand employment opportunities across our state. We can lead the fight to protect our environment and increase equity. We can expand access to financial services for all North Carolinians. We can make our healthcare system a model for the nation. The Treasurer can do so much for our state and I am ready to get to work.
North Carolina needs a principled and experienced Treasurer with the skills to manage our state's finances and health care system. I hope you’ll join me on this journey as I work to protect our financial future and ensure all North Carolinians get the opportunities they deserve.
Commissioner of Insurance
Wayne Goodwin is a native of Hamlet, North Carolina. The son of a farmer and textile mill worker/elementary school teacher’s assistant, Wayne rose from humble beginnings to graduate first in his high school class and then graduate with honors and as a Morehead Scholar from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Later he graduated from UNC School of Law, and began his law practice. While representing injured workers and helping families with insurance claims, voters elected him in 1996 as their State Representative in the General Assembly. For eight years Wayne fought for public education, economic development, public safety, clean water and air, election law improvements, and a healthcare bill of rights.
After four elected terms as a state legislator, he became the Assistant General Counsel and Assistant state Insurance Commissioner for four years. Voters in 2008 then elected Wayne as only the 10th state Insurance Commissioner in North Carolina since 1899.
Saved North Carolina consumers and families well over $2.4 Billion. One very specific example of his strong consumer protection record is when he ordered an insurance company to return $156 Million directly to 215,000 Tar Heel families. Goodwin’s decision made national news and resulted in President Obama inviting him for a personal meeting at the White House.
Achieved the lowest average automobile insurance premiums in the country, and he successfully barred increases for three years.
Rejected many insurance rate increases, and the courts upheld his outright rejection of a major homeowners’ insurance rate increase across the state.
Assessed the largest fine in NC history against an insurance company that had inadvertently harmed many thousands of consumers, a multi-million-dollar fine that helped fund our public schools.
Voters re-elected him as Insurance Commissioner and he continued to grow a state Department of Insurance well-respected across the country.
Wayne has traveled the country attending insurance regulatory conferences and consumer protection panels, learning about best practices and advocating for consumer protection and affordable, accessible insurance options, and has served on several boards of directors for businesses, relying on his experiences as a former public official, insurance regulator, lawyer, and businessperson.
He has also continued his activity on various civic and philanthropic endeavors.
Wayne has been married to former State Representative Melanie Wade Goodwin since 1998. They have two children, Madison and Jackson, and their pet dog, Coco. They are members of Edenton Street United Methodist Church.
Commissioner of Agriculture
Jenna was born in Raleigh, but she grew up off a dirt road on her grandparents' farm in Johnston County which raised corn, soybeans, tobacco, cattle, cotton, and hogs. She proudly graduated from the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) in Durham in 2007. In December 2011, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from North Carolina State University with majors in Political Science—with a concentration in American Politics—and Women’s and Gender Studies and a minor in English.
In November 2010—at the age of 21—Jenna made history with her election to a four-year term on the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors by becoming the youngest woman ever elected to public office in North Carolina.
As a Supervisor, Jenna has voted to provide financial assistance to land owners and land users who qualify for crucial technical assistance necessary to protect water quality, properly manage agricultural resources, and conserve the county’s natural resources and wildlife. She has been an advocate for and a volunteer with the District’s environmental education programs for grades K-12. Having grown up on a family farm, it was important to her to focus on farmland preservation and local foods enhancement in this role. With her leadership, the District secured its first ever conservation easement and entered into a Market Based Conservation Initiative (MBCI) program with the U.S. Marine Corps and the NAVY. The MBCI program preserves open space and restricts development under a vital military flight path.
Jenna is the Co-Founder and former Co-Director of a progressive nonprofit called New Leaders Council – North Carolina. She serves on the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics Alumni Association’s Board of Directors, is an active member of both the Young Elected Officials Network and Local Progress, and she speaks to international delegations for the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitors Leadership Program and US AID--resulting in her recent appointment to the North Carolina chapter of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. She became a small business owner in 2017 and works as the Managing Partner of her political and fundraising consulting firm Elevated Prospects, LLC.
Jenna was re-elected to the Wake County Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors in November 2018. She was elected Vice-Chair of the Board in Spring 2015. She formerly represented the 11-county Area IV on the NC Association of Soil and Water Conservation District's Water Resources Committee, and previously served as the alternate to the Legislative Committee from Area IV.
She is a card-carrying Farm Bureau member and actively gardens on several acres of her family farm. Jenna enjoys gourmet cooking, especially when using produce she grew herself or that she found at the NC Farmer's Market. She has a black lab named Lucy
Commissioner of Labor
Jessica N. Holmes is a workers’ rights advocate, policy expert, and fighter for fairness and social justice.
Jessica was born and raised in eastern North Carolina. As a first-generation college student, her professional and personal goals have focused on creating educational and job opportunities for our state’s most vulnerable citizens. She earned her undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Juris Doctor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law.
Jessica has spent the majority of her professional career as a labor and employment law attorney advocating for workers’ rights to fair pay, benefits, and safe working conditions.
In 2014, Jessica became the youngest commissioner ever elected in Wake County’s history. She has served for two years as chair of the Board of Commissioners, as the youngest person ever in the county’s history to wield the gavel. Her colleagues elected her to the role unanimously. She has a track record of supporting job creation as a county commissioner and attracting businesses with diverse talent. Jessica has been successful with these key initiatives that support workforce development: increasing access to early childhood development programs, advocating for increased education funding across North Carolina and development of career and technical programs in high schools, and leading a campaign to provide capital funding for our state’s largest community college system, Wake Technical Community College.
Jessica prioritizes family-oriented policies during her tenure and is responsible for Wake County’s implementation of a paid parental leave policy, a fair chance hiring ordinance, and supporting a living wage policy for county employees and all school personnel.
Jessica has a stellar record for community engagement, volunteering and giving back to the community. Her work as a member of the Board of Directors and Consultant with the North Carolina Foundation for Public School Children has brought direct support to thousands of children across North Carolina in need of assistance from hurricane relief to school supplies. Her service on the board of Wake Smart Start has resulted in additional early childhood development opportunities for low-income children. She has also served on the board of A Helping Hand, Inc., a nonprofit that supports adults and seniors with disabilities, as well as InterAct of Wake County, which provides domestic abuse and sexual assault services.
Superintendent of Public Instruction
Jen Mangrum is a native North Carolinian and a lifelong educator. Both of Jen’s parents were public elementary school teachers. They raised three children in Jacksonville, NC. Jen was the youngest, and she was a strong student who loved helping her parents in their classrooms.
Very sadly, one morning when she was just fourteen, her mother died in young Jen's arms, and she walked to school. She believed that somehow, her teachers would make everything "okay." To this day, public school is Jen's home-away-from-home. Jen believes she is in debt to teachers - because, in fact, we all are. That's why Jen has devoted her life to making schools safer, better places for all kinds of children to learn and flourish. Day in and day out, Jen works to train, support, and motivate superhero teachers just like her mother, her father, and Mrs. Warren and Mrs. Travis, who comforted Jen on the most difficult day of her life.
In 1987, Jen graduated from UNC-Wilmington (her father's alma mater) with a degree in elementary education. During her first two years as a teacher, Jen taught second grade at a diverse school near a military base and attended graduate school at East Carolina University. She received her Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education and moved to Guilford County, where she was surprised to find a teacher surplus. Even with a Masters degree, Jen had a hard time finding employment. After interviewing for a Teacher Assistant/Bus Driver position, Jen was fortunate enough to be recommended for a full-on teaching job in a rural community outside of Greensboro.
For the next twelve years Jen taught second and third grade. Recognized as a leader among her colleagues, Jen became a literacy facilitator.
In 2008, Jen took a position at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro so she could be closer to home while her two daughters completed their K-12 experience in Guilford County Public Schools. (Both Jen's daughters went on to study at North Carolina State University. Jen's eldest daughter recently received an MFA from UNC School of the Arts.) At UNC-Greensboro, Jen co-founded the UNCG STEM Teacher Leader Collaborative. STEM TLC supports, promotes and encourages teacher leadership in STEM in elementary classrooms, especially elementary classrooms affected by poverty.
Jen’s community efforts are focused on advocacy for teachers, students, and families. In the past, Jen has enjoyed volunteering for ARC (an organization that advocates on behalf of those with developmental and intellectual disabilities) and Hooked on Books (an organization funded by the Teague Foundation that provides home libraries for elementary students in high-poverty schools). Jen serves on the Board of Directors for the National Paideia Center, which allows her to travel the country to work with teachers who want to learn new ways to approach teaching and learning.
State Supreme Court
Chief Justice NC Supreme Court
Cheri Beasley is the first African-American woman in the North Carolina Supreme Court’s 200-year history to serve as Chief Justice. She has been on the state’s highest Court since 2012 and was named Chief Justice in March of 2019.
Justice Beasley also served four years as an Associate Judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, and was a District Court Judge for a decade in the 12th Judicial District in Cumberland County. Before beginning her judicial career in 1999, Beasley was a public defender in Cumberland County.
Cheri Beasley believes passionately in having an independent judicial branch that administers justice fairly and she also knows the courts can play an important role in helping people better their lives. That’s why she is working to engage schools, law enforcement, faith leaders, and other stakeholders in discussions about important community issues. And by implementing online services and increasing the number of specialty courts, she’s also working to make the judicial system more accessible to all North Carolinians.
Cheri Beasley’s commitment to fair and accessible courts extends beyond the halls of justice. She has mentored countless students and judges, lectures at area law schools, and travels nationwide and abroad to promote the rule of law, the administration of justice, the importance of an independent judiciary, and fair judicial selection.
A graduate of The University of Tennessee College of Law and Douglass College of Rutgers University, Chief Justice Beasley earned a Master of Laws (L.L.M.) in Judicial Studies from Duke University School of Law. She has held several leadership roles in the American Bar Association and the North Carolina Bar Association, and has received a number of awards for her leadership and public service.
Cheri Beasley and her husband, Curtis Owens, are the proud parents of twin sons, Thomas and Matthew, who are college students. They are members of First Baptist Church in Raleigh.
NC Supreme Court
Mark Allen Davis is a lifelong resident of North Carolina. He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. He obtained his law degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law and served on the North Carolina Law Review.
Upon graduation from law school, Justice Davis served as a law clerk to the Honorable Franklin T. Dupree, Jr. in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. He then practiced law for almost two decades. For the next five years, he served as a Special Deputy Attorney General in the North Carolina Department of Justice. As a practicing attorney, he litigated over two hundred cases in the state and federal courts. He also handled over 65 appeals, making numerous appearances in the Supreme Court of North Carolina, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
For approximately two years, Justice Davis served as General Counsel in the Office of the Governor. In 2012, he was appointed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals by Governor Beverly Perdue. During his six years as an Associate Judge on the Court of Appeals, he authored over 500 opinions.
Justice Davis has been active in professional and civic organizations. He is a member of The Rotary Club of Raleigh, the Susie Sharp Inn of Court, and the Supreme Court Historical Society and has served as a coach of youth basketball and soccer. He is also a recipient of The Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Justice Davis lives in Raleigh with his wife, Marcia Schwartz Davis, and their three children, Jack, Ted, and Lea. He and his family are longtime members of Congregation Sha’arei Israel.
NC Supreme Court
Lucy Inman, a judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, is a candidate for the North Carolina Supreme Court in 2020. Judge Inman was elected statewide to the Court of Appeals in 2014.
Judge Inman was raised in Raleigh by parents who taught her the value of hard work and respect for people of all races, faiths, and walks of life. She graduated from Sanderson High School and earned a degree in English from N.C. State University.
Judge Inman’s first career was as a newspaper reporter. While covering court proceedings, she was inspired to participate in the justice system. She then moved to Chapel Hill and earned her law degree from UNC School of Law in 1990. Her first job after law school was working as a law clerk for North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Exum.
Judge Inman went on to practice civil litigation for 18 years, first in Los Angeles and then back home in Raleigh. Her clients included small business owners, large corporations, famous individuals, and lesser known -- but no less important -- survivors of negligence, fraud, and sexual abuse.
In 2010, Judge Inman was appointed by Governor Beverly Perdue to
serve as a special superior court judge. She served in that role for four years, presiding in hearings and jury trials across North Carolina. Since her election to the Court of Appeals, Judge Inman has authored nearly 400 appellate decisions in a wide variety of cases, including criminal, civil, and constitutional disputes. She has presided in thousands of other cases.
Judge Inman brings hard work and respect for all others to her personal and professional life every day. She hopes to bring these values, and equal justice for all, to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
Judge Inman and her husband Billy Warden live in Raleigh. They have two college-age children and a black lab rescue who keeps their nest from ever being empty.
State Court of Appeals
NC Court of Appeals
Judge Cubbage was born and raised in Shenandoah, Va. Being one of five girls made for a very interesting upbringing, not to mention, she is also an identical twin.
Relocating from the mountains of Virginia to Greensboro N.C in 1994 led way to her pursuing a career as a barber. For 17 years, Judge Cubbage spent many hours behind a barber chair getting to know about the cares and concerns of the citizens of Greensboro, NC.
At age 29, Judge Cubbage, being a single mother, applied and was accepted into North Carolina A&T State University. After graduating from NC A & T, she went on to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Law to fulfill her calling to practice law and serve the citizens of her country.
Judge Cubbage began her legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Guilford County, prosecuting cases for the State of NC. In her experience as an ADA, Judge Cubbage learned that most people just want an opportunity to be heard. One of the most rewarding experiences of her career has been practicing in the juvenile drug court as well as the mental health court. Judge Cubbage migrated to the Attorney General's Office after 5 years as an ADA. There she was able to gain experience as a defense attorney for the State of NC. Judge Cubbage practiced in criminal and civil law where she litigated cases before the Industrial Commission as well as before the Court of Appeals (by briefs). Judge Cubbage also was able to gain valuable experience arguing criminal appellate cases by briefs to the Court of Appeals.
After 6 years at the Attorney General's Office Judge Cubbage decided she was ready to run for District Court Judge. Her legal, non legal and life experience gave her the perfect and unique balance needed to become a competent, fair and compassionate Judge.
Judge Cubbage knew that accountability is the key to progress while at the same time ruling with compassion allows people to accept the outcome of any case. That includes criminal, juvenile delinquency, juvenile dependency, neglect and abuse, divorce court, equitable distribution, child support, DWI and traffic court.
In October 2018, Judge Cubbage was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to the Superior Court bench. She successfully defended her seat in the November 2018 election. As a current superior court judge, Judge Cubbage travels to different counties to preside over the highest trial court in the State.
Judge Cubbage views her judgeship as a position of trust and as an opportunity for service. She is collaborating with community, business, and justice partners to improve the courts wherever possible and is working to help ensure North Carolina courts are open, fair, and welcoming to our citizens and businesses.
NC Court of Appeals
A North Carolina native, Tricia graduated from UNC School of Law in 1985. After working as a clerk to Chief Judge Hedrick of the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Tricia became a recognized trial and appellate lawyer, representing individuals and businesses before every level of our State’s courts.
Tricia has consistently been recognized as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers and Top 100 Lawyers in North Carolina, has been listed in The Best Lawyers in America since 2003, and has received a Women of Justice Award from North Carolina Lawyers Weekly. She is ranked in Chambers® and Partners and holds an AV® Preeminent™ 5 out of 5 by Martindale-Hubbell.
Determined to give back to the profession she loves, Tricia has taught Trial Advocacy at Campbell Law School since 2013, in addition to her full-time practice. She also served as President of a State-wide attorney’s group.
Tricia is a long-time resident of Cary, where she lives with her husband, Grady. Tricia has two sons, Will, who recently received his Masters of Social Work, and Ben, who has a Masters in Applied Economics.
NC Court of Appeals
Gray Styers was born, raised, and has lived his entire life in North Carolina. His father was a high school science teacher and principal; his mother worked in the library at Lenoir-Rhyne College. He attended public schools and was valedictorian of Hickory High School in 1981. Receiving a Carswell Scholarship, he attended and graduated from Wake Forest University. He obtained his law degree and an MBA degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In law school, he was the Articles Editor of the North Carolina Law Review.
After graduating from law school, Gray served as a law clerk to the Honorable Sam J. Ervin, III, Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. He has since practiced law in Raleigh for almost three decades. Starting his own law firm, Styers, Kemerait & Mitchell, in 2010, Gray knows what it is like to be an entrepreneur and take risks. He merged this firm into Smith Moore Leatherwood (now part of the national law firm of Fox Rothschild) where he now focusses his practice on regulatory law matters, economic development, renewable energy, and infrastructure projects in both rural and urban areas throughout the state. In addition, he also assists those less fortunate, pro bono, though the “Lawyer on the Line” program of Legal Aid of North Carolina, a program that he helped start as its founding co-chair at the North Carolina Bar Association.
Gray is known for his volunteer service to the legal profession, to his community, and to the state for which he received a “Citizen Lawyer” award from the NC Bar Association and was named a “Leader in the Law” by Lawyers Weekly. He was elected by his peers to serve as President of the Wake County Bar Association and as President of the 10th Judicial District Bar. He served on the NC Bar Association Board of Governors and also on its Litigation Section Council and as Chair of its Administrative Law Section Council. Gray is a frequent speaker at continuing legal education courses and has taught legal ethics and Professional Responsibility as an adjunct professor at the UNC School of Law. He has been appointed as an advisory member of the Ethics Committee of the North Carolina State Bar and is a certified mediator to help resolve cases in Superior Court. Gray is a member of the Raleigh Kiwanis Club, the Susie Sharp Inn of Court, the Supreme Court Historical Society, and has served on the boards of the UNC School of Law Alumni Association, the North Carolina Museum of History Associates, the North Carolina Symphony Society, the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Triangle.
Gray has lived and served in North Carolina his entire life. He has traveled its highways and byways. There are few counties in which he has not litigated a case, appeared before a town council or county board of commissioners or helped develop an infrastructure project. He loves the state and its people and hopes to now be able to serve them as a judge on the Court of Appeals.
NC Court of Appeals
Chris spent his formative years in Raleigh, attending Daniels Middle School and Broughton High School. He received his undergraduate and Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At Carolina Law, he was managing editor of the North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation and director of the school's Pro Bono Program. From 2007 to 2011, Chris served as an adjunct professor at Carolina Law.
Chris first practiced law in the Raleigh office of Cranfill, Sumner & Hartzog. He then worked as a staff attorney at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in Durham. From 2012 through his appointment to the Court of Appeals by Governor Roy Cooper, Chris was the legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. He is the incoming Chair of the North Carolina Bar Association's Constitutional Rights and Responsibilities Section.
Active in the local community, Chris serves as Chair of the Board of the Orange County Partnership for Young Children and Vice-Chair of the Board of Transplanting Tradition Community Farm. In 2012, he was a founding member of a monthly housing law clinic at El Centro Hispano in Durham. Chris also served on the Size of the School Task Force and Pro Bono Alumni Board at Carolina Law, and as an attorney volunteer at the Compass Center for Women and Families.
Chris has received numerous recognitions for his contributions to the community and the legal profession in the state. He was inducted into the James E. and Carolyn B. Davis Society upon his graduation from Carolina Law, and was subsequently awarded the Outstanding Recent Graduate by the school. In 2016, the North Carolina Association of Women Attorneys honored him with the Gwyneth B. Davis Public Service Award. Chris was also the winner of the North Carolina Justice Center's Defender of Justice Litigation Award in 2017.
NC Court of Appeals
Judge Reuben F. Young was appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper to the North Carolina Court of Appeals on April 15, 2019. Previously, Judge Young served as Interim Chief Deputy
Secretary of Adult Corrections and Juvenile Justice. In this role, Judge Young worked with state officials to enhance safety in prisons and to improve the rehabilitation of offenders. He has traveled across the State to survey facilities and to speak with state employees about improving the prison system.
From 2009 to 2011, Judge Young served as Secretary of the former Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. He was the first Secretary of the newly consolidated Department of Public Safety in 2012. Later, Judge Young was appointed Special Superior Court Judge for the 10th Judicial District of North Carolina. Judge Young served as a jurist for five years until he returned to the Department of Public Safety as its Interim Chief Secretary.
Judge Young began his legal career in Austin, Texas where he worked as a prosecutor,assistant attorney general, and a private practitioner. When he returned to North Carolina in 1995, Judge Young worked for the state Department of Justice, specifically the Department of Crime Control and Public Safety for six years. In 2001, Judge Young joined the Governor’s office as Deputy Legal Counsel, and then Chief Legal Counsel. Judge Young received the Distinguished Service Medal for his support of the North Carolina National Guard during his tenure in the Governor’s office. He has also twice received the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Judge Young is a graduate of Howard University in Washington, D.C. and North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham.