Cabarrus County Republicans chose Larry Pittman Oct. 4 to replace N.C. Rep Jeff Barnhart, R-Cabarrus, who represents District 82 in the N.C. House.
Nine Cabarrus GOP executive board members who live in District 82 voted on the appointment to serve out the rest of Barnhart's unexpired term.
The appointment came about two months after Barnhart announced he would step down Sept. 30 to become a lobbyist for McGuireWoods Consulting. Barnhart served District 82 for 11 years. Before that he sat on the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners for 10 years.
Pittman, former pastor at McKinnon Presbyterian Church in Concord, received five of the nine votes. County commissioners chairman Jay White, who already announced plans to run for the Republican nomination to the seat next year, got the other four votes.
Commissioner Chris Measmer also wanted the seat but didn't get any votes.
"I believe there was a feeling among a lot of folks that having two lawyers from the same law office serving in Raleigh at the same time was not a good idea," Pittman said in an email. "I was the logical choice, as the only one of three (candidates) who had actually run for the office before. There was also a feeling that Jay and Chris should finish out their current terms on the County Commission."
White said he's disappointed but looks forward to having the entire district represented.
"There are many issues that need to be addressed in the coming months," said White. "The need to hit the ground running is vital for the community to have a strong voice in the N.C. Legislature. I believe that I was and still am the best candidate for this seat."
Pittman, 57, said he will stand up for the rights of the average citizen not to have the government dictate their lives.
""I will stand for the right of this state to govern itself, as guaranteed under the Tenth Amendment," he said. "I will stand for the right to life, property rights, gun owners' rights, parental rights, and the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman. I will work to lower tax rates for everyone and reduce the burden of regulation on businesses..."
White said Pittman's "lack of experience" will be telling.
"I hope that I am wrong, but my concern is his lack of experience...," said White. "Without ever holding office, a lot of pressure will be put on him to grasp the requirements needed to be an effective leader in the Legislature. I am concerned that he will not be the voice the community needs and deserves for the 82nd House seat."
Pittman said the upcoming election will be a tough race, adding he'd be up against "the Fletcher Hartsell machine" again.
"So, I will have a lot of work to do," said Pittman. "My commitment is that elected officials are servants and employees of the people, not their masters. Our North Carolina ancestors had the good sense to be leery of government, wanting to insist that the government would serve the people, and not the other way around."
White also is putting his best foot forward.
"When the community has the opportunity to choose me as an official I have been successful," said White. "I work hard to get my message out during my campaigns and I will continue to do so. Meeting people, discussing their concerns and helping with solutions to these concerns are important to me and will continue to be important."
The district covers most of western Cabarrus County and some of south Concord. Pittman ran unsuccessfully for the District 82 seat against Barnhart in the 2010 Republican primary, attracting about 40 percent of the vote.
The nine voting members were David Bengtson, Tracy Bengtson, Don Harrison, Tom Daoust, Ken McClamrock, Tom White (no relation to Jay White), Tammy Pittman (Larry Pittman's wife), Bill Richey and Christine Harris.