KFP: Three candidates, one mayor’s office

By Junious Smith III / Staff Writer 

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.

 

Published: Monday, July 29, 2013 at 20:04 PM.

KFP: Audio: B.J. Murphy visits the Free Press Radio Show

Sara Pezzoni / The Free Press

By Bryan Hanks and Jon Dawson
Published: Friday, July 26, 2013 at 07:01 AM.

On the latest Free Press Radio Show (CLICK HERE to listen), Bryan Hanks, Jon Dawson and Junious Smith III welcome Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy onto the show to discuss his decision to run for reelection. Prozac returns to the studio to help Bryan in the iPod Shuffle. CLICK HERE for previous episodes.

http://www.kinston.com/news/web-exclusives/audio-b-j-murphy-visits-the-free-press-radio-show-1.177952?tc=cr

KFP: An early look at Kinston’s municipal races

By Bryan Hanks, Editor 

Thanks to a flurry of filings in — literally — the 11th hour this week, there are now three candidates for Kinston mayor and eight for the two Kinston City Council seats.

Only a week ago, we were wondering if there were going to be enough folks filing to even fill the ballot for city council. However, thanks to seven candidates joining incumbent Robbie Swinson for the council and B.J. Murphy’s surprising decision to run for re-election against Ralph Clark and John Marks for mayor, we’ll have spirited contests in Kinston’s first nonpartisan municipal races.

Before we take a quick look at those races, a reminder: The Free Press will be holding candidate forums, not just for those contests, but for many others throughout Lenoir, Greene and Jones counties. We’re also going to tape podcasts with candidates in all the races in our coverage areas before the November election.

So, on to some early observations. As always, these prognostications should not be taken as endorsements — they are just some early thoughts about what is shaping up to be a heck of a fun election season.

KINSTON MAYOR’S RACE: Murphy’s re-entry — remember, he announced earlier this year he wasn’t running for re-election — turns an almost certain Clark victory into a true race. The previous statement is made with absolutely no disrespect to Marks, but conventional wisdom dictated that Clark — who had garnered support from both sides of the local political spectrum before Murphy’s announcement — would cruise to the victory against Marks, a relative political neophyte who had previously lost three times in city council races.

Murphy is supremely confident he will win re-election after becoming the city’s first Republican mayor since Reconstruction — and it’s easy to see the source of his confidence. After a “perfect storm” victory in 2009 over two established candidates in Earl Harper and Jimmy Cousins, the personable Murphy has built strong consensus from Democrats and Republicans in his first term as mayor.

He has shown several times he will shed the GOP label and do what’s best for Kinston, regardless of what some local Republicans think might be quasi-blasphemous actions.

But it’s not going to an easy race against Clark, who — as mentioned earlier — has built a strong base of support from the city’s movers and shakers. The former Kinston City Manager didn’t jump into this mayoral race on a whim; he did his homework, talking to many potential opponents (including, ironically, Murphy) to defuse any political problems and opposition. It’s certain Clark didn’t think Murphy would run for re-election, but since he has, we’ll get to see a spirited race.

The wild card here is Marks. It’s almost certain that — just like in 2009 — local Democrats will be split between Clark and Marks, with virtually the entire GOP base supporting Murphy. Even if Clark garners 70 percent of the local Democratic vote (a fair guess, I think), with Murphy and Marks getting the remaining 30, that skews the race again towards Murphy. If this was just Clark vs. Murphy, I think Clark would stand a strong chance of victory; with Marks in the race, I can see Murphy coming away with another win.

KINSTON CITY COUNCIL RACE: Now, THIS is where it gets really fun.

With eight candidates vying for two seats, anything can happen. However, I’m pretty confident that Swinson, who is going for his third term on the council, will be the top vote-getter when Nov. 5 rolls around. That’s the easy prediction; Swinson is well-liked in all parts of Kinston, has done a solid job in his first two terms and has the all-important name recognition factor in his corner. If he doesn’t earn the most votes in November, I’ll be shocked.

However, Swinson is facing some strong opposition, including from another 11th-hour filer who reversed course: John Nix. The local businessman — who lost in his first run for council in 2011 — is best known for being one of the primary forces that brought nonpartisan voting to Kinston. However, like Murphy in the mayor’s race, he announced publicly last month he wasn’t running for city council.

Nonetheless, like Murphy in the mayor’s race, Nix did a 180 on Friday and announced his bid for city council.

Swinson and Nix are joined by six other candidates — Teddra Hussey-Smith, Marc McKnight, Adrien Meadows, Lennie Peterson, Carol Tokarski and Wynn Whittington. Of that sextet, Whittington (a former Kinston High School principal) and Peterson (a former candidate for city council) have the most local name recognition. Of course, that can change a lot between now and November.

Regardless of who wins and loses at the ballot box in November, I hope you join me in thanking these 11 citizens — along with the other candidates in La Grange, Pink Hill, Greene County and Jones County — who care enough about their communities to try to make a difference. They’re not sitting around on their backsides waiting for things to happen; they’re working to try to improve the cities, towns and communities in which they live.

You have earned our respect and admiration.

Bryan C. Hanks is the editor of The Free Press; his column appears in this space every Sunday. You can reach him at 252-559-1074 or at Bryan.Hanks@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BCHanks.

KFP: B.J. Murphy runs for re-election

KFP0720 BJ Murphy Runs 1
Kinston mayor B.J. Murphy files for the mayor’s race on the last day of filing for the 2013 general election with his wife, Jessica, standing by his side. Jean Alphin, deputy director of the Lenoir County Board of Elections, assists Murphy in filing paperwork. Murphy recanted his original decision not to run again for mayor in the 2013 general election and filed for the race about 45 minutes before the noon deadline on Friday.

Sara Pezzoni / The Free Press

By Junious Smith III / Staff Writer 

Published: Friday, July 19, 2013 at 21:49 PM.

Two candidates who continuously said they weren’t running for positions in Kinston government changed their minds and filed shortly before the deadline.

At 11 a.m. — one hour before the filing deadline — John Nix put in his bid to become a member of the city council at the Lenoir County Board of Elections on Friday. Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy did the same thing 12 minutes later, filing for re-election.

Murphy — who is currently serving his first term — was initially going to stay out of the mayoral race and leave it to Ralph Clark and John Marks. Through constant persuasion by his wife and members of the community, Murphy decided to run again.

“My wife, Jessica, talked to me about a month ago, asking me to seriously reconsider and run for re-election,” Murphy said. “The amount of supporters I’ve had in the community has been really humbling.”

Murphy also wrote on his blog Friday, saying “I’ve had a ton of supporters in the community ask me to reconsider via phone calls, text messages and Facebook.”
Murphy believes that his work ethic and familiarity will play a role in his being re-elected.

“One major advantage I have is the continuity in government,” Murphy said. “Over the past four years I’ve been able to make connections and have great relationships with other mayors, governors and senators across the state. I just want to help Kinston become a better place.”

Nix — like Murphy — is looking to do the same in improving Kinston. Although, he lost his first bid for a seat on the city council in 2011, Nix has decided to run again because he believes the city could use his assistance.

“I just reassessed the representation and felt like I had most qualities to help the city attract business, increase the tax base and focus more on infrastructure,” Nix said. “I feel like we should improve more on what we have instead of building more and reprioritize our spending.”

Nix is best known for being part of a group who made a push for nonpartisan elections in Kinston, taking their case to the federal court. With the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act last month — partly because of the case in Kinston — the city will have its first election without need of a primary.

“About 67 percent of the citizens voted for it in 2009 and it took a group of people — myself included — to bring it to where it is today,” Nix said. “It saves the city and county money plus each voter has to look at the candidate instead of the party they represent.”
Nix is excited to run for city council and possibly avenge his loss two years ago.

“I feel good running for city council, because this is something I’ve been fighting for over the past three and a half years,” Nix said. “Still, I don’t equate that into why I’m running. I equate that into what I can do for the city. I love my community and I want to serve.”

Junious Smith III can be reached at 252-559-1077 andJunious.Smith@Kinston.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JuniousSmithIII.

WITN: Kinston Mayor Changes Mind, Seeks Re-Election

 

 

Kinston’s mayor has had a change of heart and will seek re-election afterall.

B.J. Murphy filed paperwork at the Lenoir County Board of Elections Office shortly after 11:00 a.m. Today is the last day to file, and that ends at noon.

Murphy was first elected in 2009 and at the time was the first Republican elected to the post since Reconstruction. Earlier this year he announced he would not seek a second term.

But Murphy says his wife and supporters encouraged him in recent weeks to run again.

Two other people have already filed. Former city manager Ralph Clark and Kinston pastor John Marks, Jr. are running for the office as well.

http://www.witn.com/home/headlines/Kinston-Mayor-Changes-Mind-Will-Seek-Re-Election-216159391.html?device=phone

WITN: Kinston Mayor Changes Mind, Seeks Re-election


Kinston’s mayor has had a change of heart and will seek re-election afterall.

B.J. Murphy filed paperwork at the Lenoir County Board of Elections Office shortly after 11:00 a.m. Today is the last day to file, and that ends at noon.

Murphy was first elected in 2009 and at the time was the first Republican elected to the post since Reconstruction. Earlier this year he announced he would not seek a second term.

But Murphy says his wife and supporters encouraged him in recent weeks to run again.

Two other people have already filed. Former city manager Ralph Clark and Kinston pastor John Marks, Jr. are running for the office as well.

WNCT: Kinston Mayor BJ Murphy announces his last-minute bid for re-election

Posted: Jul 19, 2013 9:46 AM EDTUpdated: Jul 19, 2013 9:59 AM EDT

By Katie Banks, Digital Journalist – email

 
WNCT
Kinston Mayor BJ Murphy has announced a last-minute bid for re-election.

Murphy, 32, is Kinston’s youngest mayor and the first Republican mayor in more than a hundred years. He was elected in 2009.

When 9 On Your Side talked with him back in February, he said his reason for not running was a re-dedication to his family and business.

“My family has sacrificed time with me so that I could give back to my hometown. We have simply decided that although I have a calling to serve, my family and business career need me more right now,” he said.

But now Murphy has changed his tune. On Friday morning he released this statement to 9 On Your Side:

“My wife asked me to reconsider my decision to not run again. We started praying about it. Along the lines, I’ve had a ton of supporters in the community ask me to reconsider via phone calls, text messages, and Facebook. It’s been overwhelming and we decided it was the right decision for us.”

Murphy plans to file at the Lenoir County Board of Elections at 11 o’clock Friday morning.

Kinston will elect its next mayor in November.

Murphy Filing for Re-election

At 11:00 am today, I will be filing for reelection to the Office of Mayor in the City of Kinston. My wife, Jessica, will be at my side.

She asked me to reconsider my decision to not run again. We started praying about it. Along the lines, I’ve had a ton of supporters in the community ask me to reconsider via phone calls, text messages, and Facebook. It’s been overwhelming and we decided it was the right decision for us.

If you’d like to show your support, please come to the Board of Elections at 11:00, Like us on Facebook and follow me on Twitter.

Please consider a small donation in the amount of $5, $25 or more.