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SMTIHFIELD — Allen Wellons, a Democrat and Smithfield attorney, has been a state senator before. He wants to be one again.
“I am running for the state Senate because over the past few years we have seen an N.C. General Assembly that has retreated from its responsibilities to serve the citizens of North Carolina,” Wellons said in an email response to questions from the Johnstonian News.
“I see a need for real leaders who will speak for the people and get results,” he added. “We have seen too much partisan gridlock, and North Carolinians want a change.”
Wellons served in the Senate for six years, representing Johnston, Franklin, Wilson and Vance counties. “I know what it takes to get things done,” he said. “If elected, I will work to build consensus and coalitions to ensure that the N.C. Senate serves the people of North Carolina, not the big money or special interests.”
Should he win the March primary and November general election to a Senate seat that now represents Johnston and Nash counties, Wellons said he would champion public education and middle-class job growth. “Our economy depends on strong public schools that are preparing today’s students to be the workforce of the future,” he said. “In the Senate, I will make sure the state of North Carolina is investing in our public schools, our public infrastructure needs and economic development in Johnston and Nash counties.”
Wellons, the state’s Tree Farmer of the Year in 1988, said he would be mindful too of North Carolina’s farmers. “Our farmers are hurting right now, and we need a state government that can help make sure they have a sustainable business model that helps drive our regional economy,” he said.
He added: “My priorities in the Senate will always be to make sure the people of North Carolina are well educated and prepared to participate in a global economy and to make sure North Carolina’s rural communities are healthier, safer and more economically secure.”
Wellons gives the current GOP-controlled Legislature credit on a couple of scores. “The General Assembly has done a good job at getting the state’s balance sheet and financial operations in good working order,” he said. “The Legislature has cut the shortfalls in the Medicaid budget and worked with the governor to develop a Medicaid managed-care plan that will save the state money in the long run.”
“With that said, I believe that too many working families, the working poor, are denied access to health-care coverage and treatment because we don’t have a Medicaid-reform plan that will help these families get affordable health-care insurance,” Wellons said.
“Too many families in Johnston and Nash County work hard, play by the rules, but cannot afford the high premiums of today’s health-care insurance,” he said. “We need some type of health-insurance program that provides coverage for these families at an affordable rate.”
Wellons said he believes in marketplace solutions that are affordable and provide quality care and innovation. “I think the State Legislature should focus on real-life solutions for people who are working every day but just can’t seem to afford a place at the table in today’s expensive health-care insurance market,” he said.
Working families are a recurring theme in Wellons’ campaign. “The Legislature has given multimillion-dollar tax breaks to big corporations and is balancing the budget by increasing sales and service taxes paid by everyday working people,” he said.
It’s time to reverse course, Wellons said. “I believe big corporations and multimillionaires who have benefited most from our economy should pay their fair share,” he said. “Instead of corporate tax cuts, the state of North Carolina should be investing in our public schools, community colleges and making tuition at public universities more affordable.”
“I believe North Carolina’s corporations and uber-wealthy are willing to pay their fair share knowing that the state will make investments in a better educated North Carolina,” he added.
The old Senate District 11 favored Republican candidates. The newly drawn District 11 should prove competitive, and Wellons thinks that’s a good thing — and just for his candidacy.
“Competitive districts give voters a choice,” he said. “For too long, gerrymandered districts have saddled citizens with politicians that are more loyal to their political party than to the voters that elected them. Voters want less partisanship and more results from their government.”
“That’s why I’m going to leave the partisan games to the political insiders and concentrate on talking to voters,” Wellons said. “I believe in letting the people know about my history of results-driven, common-sense, practical solutions and my vision for North Carolina and let the voters decide.”
If elected, Wellons wants to serve on the Senate’s finance, agriculture and transportation committees. “I want to be in a place to best serve my constituents,” he said. “The finance committee handles all tax legislation. The agriculture committee will be critical to help find programs to support our farm families and the agribusiness economy. The transportation committee because we need leadership in Raleigh who will fight to repair and upgrade I-95 without creating privately managed toll roads.
“It is imperative that we improve I-95 because it is such a vital economic thoroughfare for Eastern North Carolina.”
About Allen Wellons
Born March 12, 1949, Wellons, 70, is married to the former Elizabeth Hobgood, and they have three children and six grandchildren. He is an attorney at Wilkins & Wellons and manager of the family farm.
A 1967 graduate of Smithfield High School, Wellons earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Four years later, he received his law degree from N.C. Central University.
Wellons was elected to the N.C. Senate in 1996, 1998 and 2000. In 2002, he was named the most effective voice for women and children. While in the Senate, he took part in trade missions to Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba and Spain to promote N.C. industry.
Wellons serves on the State Board of Community Colleges and the State Personnel Commission. He is a former member and chairman of the Johnston County Economic Development Advisory Board and a former member and chairman of the Partnership for Children board.
Wellons is a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Smithfield.