House District 101: Challenger tries to unseat veteran Earle

The incumbent

Democrat Beverly Earle

The challengers

Steven Jones. The winner faces Republican Justin Dunn in the fall. He is unopposed in the Republican primary.

Why this race matters

District 101 is overwhelmingly Democratic: 61 percent of registered voters are Democrats, 15 percent are Republicans, and 24 percent are unaffiliated, according to the State Board of Elections. So the person who wins the Democrats’ primary has a big leg up going into the general election.

About the candidates

Earle is seeking her 12th term in office. Her tenure makes her the most senior member of either party in the Mecklenburg County delegation to the legislature.

She sees her seniority as a major asset. Democrats are the minority party in Raleigh, but Earle said she remains an effective voice for her district. Earle said her long tenure in the state House, institutional knowledge and familiarity with the process means she “knows how to get things done. … There are a lot of people who don’t even have a clue.”

This is Jones’ second run for elected office; he lost a Charlotte City Council race to Al Austin last year.

Jones sees Earle’s seniority as a weakness, saying she seems to be good at maintaining the status quo while being “out of touch” with her district. Jones said he is someone who can reach across party lines to help get things done to benefit the district.

He also said he soon plans to produce mailers and campaign signs with Dunn, the Republican. If Jones loses in the primary, he said he would endorse Dunn over Earle, adding, “You can put that in bold letters if you like.”

Where the candidates stand

Earle wants to see funding increased for education. “The money is there” to attract and keep teachers, and help bring them up to the national pay average, Earle said.

She also cited Medicaid expansion and job growth as important concerns for the district.

To Jones, education is a critical issue. People are leaving poor performing neighborhood schools for charter schools, he said, which has hit west Charlotte especially hard.

He likes the idea of eliminating neighborhood schools and busing students to other schools, not to vary race but to vary income levels. That would also make charter schools less appealing for the purpose of avoiding the neighborhood schools, Jones said.

Dealing with transportation needs and reforming campaign finance also are among the concerns Jones has.

Adam Bell: 704-358-5696, @abell

At a glance

Beverly Earle

Age: 72

Education: N.C. A&T State University

Professional experience: Retired, AT&T

Political resume: N.C. House of Representatives, 1995-present

Family: One son, Steven; two granddaughters, Shamone and Manysia

Website: www.ncleg.net (Go to “view member info.”)

Steven Jones

Age: 31

Education: Central Piedmont Community College

Professional experience: Sales, president of Coulwood Community Council Board of Directors, president or secretary of several other nonprofits, electrical design consultant

Political resume: Worked with educational nonprofit for voter information.

Family: Wife, Anne; two children