NC House District 107: Alexander faces retired Army physician in primary

A retired Army physician is challenging a four-term incumbent with deep political ties to Charlotte in a Democratic primary March 15 that will likely decide the next representative in N.C. House District 107.

No Republicans are running in the heavily Democratic district, represented since 2008 by Kelly Alexander Jr. Retired Army Col. Robert Blok, a former military physician, is trying to unseat Alexander in the serpentine district that stretches westward from the Cabarrus County line on the northeastern edge of the city, curves south before hugging the west side of Interstate 77 from Interstate 485 in north Charlotte to Interstate 277 near uptown, then curls back northeast along North Graham Street.

The incumbent

Alexander, son of one of Charlotte’s most prominent Charlotte civil rights leaders, also named Kelly Alexander, was appointed to fill an unexpired District 107 term in June 2008 before being elected to the seat that November.

Like his father, Alexander has served as a local and state leader of the NAACP. Alexander and his brother, Alfred, run Alexander Funeral Home, founded by their grandfather in 1914.

Alexander serves as vice chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee and the Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee. He’s also a member of the House Education, Transportation and Utilities committees.

The challenger

Blok did not respond to several email requests for information. He did not include a phone number in information filed with the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections. According to his campaign website, Blok served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps for 30 years and held leadership command positions at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, as well as in Germany, Iraq, Kuwait and other posts.

According to his website, Blok served on the school board for the Highland Park School District in Fort Sheridan, Ill. He also lists memberships in the American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way, Amnesty International, among others.

Why they are running

Alexander: “I have a strong interest in the problems facing an urbanizing North Carolina and the challenges of how state policy should support this transition. As a small business person, I know firsthand the challenges of making a payroll and providing a quality service to customers. In the General Assembly, I represent the interest of average citizens and job creators. I try to be a voice for the people.”

Blok: “I will make the tough decisions and will be willing to work across the aisle; not create more gridlock in our Legislature. As a retired U.S. Army Colonel, when elected, I will devote my full-time efforts to representing (my constituents) in Raleigh because I do not have to balance operating a business or law practice in Charlotte with my duties in the … General Assembly.”

Key issues

Alexander said he would push for economic incentives for small businesses, property-tax relief that would help seniors and disabled citizens remain in their homes, and increased state funding for mass transit. Alexander added that he would continue to press for the legalization of medical marijuana, an issue he has championed since entering the legislature.

Blok is calling for increased funding for education and better pay for the state’s public school teachers. He supports economic incentives for small businesses, as well as for companies that choose to relocate to the state. Blok also said local and state officials should work closely with the federal government to ensure that military veterans have adequate housing, health care and other services.

Kelly Alexander Jr.

Education: Bachelor’s in political science, master’s of public administration, UNC-Chapel Hill

Professional experience: Vice president and funeral director, Alexander Funeral Home

Political resume: Serving fourth full term in N.C. House

Website: www.votekellyalexander.com

Robert Blok

Education: Bachelor’s, Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich.; medical degree, Midwestern University, Chicago; master’s of Military Art and Science, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; Master’s of Strategic Studies, U.S. Air Force Air War College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

Professional experience: U.S. Army Medical Corps, 1980-2012; retired as colonel

Political resume: Board of Education, Highland Park School District in Fort Sheridan, Ill.

Website: www.voterobertblok.com