The first nonpartisan mayoral election in Kinston comes between three candidates staking their claims to the most visible seat in the city.
B.J. Murphy, Ralph Clark and John Marks are all working on their campaigns in anticipation to become mayor of Kinston after the Nov. 5 election.
Murphy — an incumbent who initially said he wasn’t running for re-election — filed about 45 minutes before the July 19 noon deadline. Murphy said consistency is a key factor in his campaign.
“I plan on bringing continuity to the office and some of the procedures we had been implementing over the last four years, including but not limited to, streets, the redevelopment of Kinston and a sound fiscal policy,” Murphy said. “Some of the more obvious changes seen during my time include the redevelopment of the Arts and Culture district, the increased amount of funding for street resurfacing and open dialogue with citizens on sensitive issues such as crime, utility rates and ec cetera.”
Although Murphy is the current mayor and had been encouraged by family, friends and supporters to run for a second term, he doesn’t consider himself a favorite in the race.
“I look at this like I’m in last place everyday, and that’s the way I’ll work on the campaign and for the city of Kinston,” Murphy said. “There’s always something more we can achieve. There’s always something we can do better. That’s my perspective on not just the office, but the campaign.”
Clark — the former Kinston city manager with over 30 years of government experience — didn’t expect Murphy to come back to the race, but is undeterred with his campaign.
“I was shocked because he stated publicly he wasn’t going to run, but it’s the political system and we all have the right to change our minds,” Clark said. “It’s hard to develop a strategy until you know who’s running. Now, with Murphy being there and being an incumbent, it makes it much more difficult, but I still plan on working hard and winning.”
Clark also said he’s focused on trying to fix several concerns in the community.
“I think we have to talk a number of issues, like how we can develop jobs,” Clark said. “We have to figure out the right atmosphere and fill empty buildings and houses. We have to look at creative ways to bring jobs into the community and enhance the tax base.
“Some of the things I fought for I’ll continue to fight for such as the new arts district. I think it’s great they’ve taken old Mitchelltown and brought it back to life. I also want to get adequate funds reinvested in our electric system, while working on getting rates more competitive.”
Marks — pastor and founder of Increasing the Praise Ministries on North Queen Street — doesn’t have the political and governmental experience of Murphy or Clark, but believes he can make a difference in the city.
“One of my main platforms is to get the city to be as one, not divided,” Marks said. “I want to see equality for everybody. Economy-wise, we need to have more jobs to come to Kinston besides plants. We also need jobs like restaurants and things we used to have in the 70s like with retail stores and entry-level jobs. This way, the economy and tax base can be more feasible.”
When asked about the re-emergence of Murphy of a candidate, Marks said he wasn’t concerned about who filed and didn’t plan on changing anything on his platform.
“It doesn’t change my strategy,” Marks said. “To me, it didn’t matter who I was going up against. I’m running for the seat that was supposed to be up. Like any other candidate, I’ll be passing out material, knocking on the doors and getting (voters) excited and mobilized. In the past and now, people say Kinston needs new leadership.
“I’m giving 110 percent as I try to become the new mayor of Kinston.”
Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 andJunious.Smith@Kinston.com. Follow him on twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.