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Mark Bibbs bids for Farmer-Butterfield seat
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Mark Bibbs bids for Farmer-Butterfield seat

Wilson attorney Mark Bibbs says a think tank’s lackluster review shows state Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield isn’t getting the job done in Raleigh.

Bibbs made his bid to oppose the six-term Democratic lawmaker official on Friday, turning in his paperwork as candidate filing drew to a close. He will face Farmer-Butterfield in the May 6 Democratic primary for N.C. House District 24.

"Currently, we have weak leadership in Raleigh,” Bibbs said in a prepared statement. "We have a broken state government. We have state government bureaucrats creating mess after embarrassing mess. People in Pitt and Wilson counties deserve much better.”

Bibbs points to N.C. Center for Public Policy Research effectiveness rankings from the 2011 regular session that score Farmer-Butterfield 115th of the 120 state House members.

With questions looming about Bibbs’ residency in District 24 — he says he converted the second floor of the Douglas Street building that houses his law office into an apartment where he now lives — and past drunken-driving charges, the primary is shaping up to be a tense contest.

With no Republican opposition, the Democrat who wins the day in May is likely to coast to victory in November. Farmer-Butterfield said she’s prepared for the challenge.

"Everyone has the right to run if they want to run,” she said. "I’m judged on my record. He needs to be judged on his, I’m sure. I think it’s up to the citizens to decide.”


Bibbs compares Farmer-Butterfield’s effectiveness ranking to that of Superior Court Judge Toby Fitch, who held the same House seat from 1985-2001 and was ranked as high as fifth.

"That ranks my opponent in the bottom 5 percent,” Bibbs said. "That type of weak leadership is disappointing, inexcusable and unacceptable to continue representing Pitt and Wilson counties in the North Carolina House.”

Farmer-Butterfield said Bibbs puts too much stock in the rankings, which are based on surveys distributed to lawmakers, lobbyists and General Assembly journalists.

"My rankings and my report cards that I worry about are the ones from my constituents in Wilson and Pitt counties,” she said. "That’s what I care about. I don’t think they care about how the lobbyists rank me or even how my colleagues rank me.”

Effectiveness rankings can fluctuate wildly from session to session. Farmer-Butterfield was in the middle of the pack (57th) in 2009.

The nonpartisan Center for Public Policy Research isn’t the only group that rates lawmakers’ performance. Farmer-Butterfield said the NAACP gives her a 98-percent grade and the AFL-CIO labor union rates her at 100 percent on workers’ rights issues.

"Their issues are very similar to those of my constituents,” Farmer-Butterfield said.

Bibbs acknowledges that members of the majority party fare better in effectiveness rankings, but he points out that Fitch, also a Democrat, enjoyed higher rankings after Republicans took control of the House in 1995.

Farmer-Butterfield said elections, not think tank reports, are the real referendum on lawmaker performance. She’s won six consecutive House terms and was unopposed in 2012.

"If I have been ineffective, the constituents who elected me would not have continued to send me to Raleigh,” she said. "I think that is kind of an insult to my constituents. The people deserve more credit than my opponent is giving them, and they should be insulted by that.”

Seniority typically leads to more desirable committee assignments and leadership positions, Farmer-Butterfield notes. She serves as vice chairwoman of the House health and human services committee, chairs the House Democratic Women’s Caucus and is second vice chairwoman of the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus.

"Seniority matters in the legislature,” she said. "I found that out quickly when I got here. I don’t care what kind of experience you have, what kind of law practice you have. When you go to the legislature, experience matters. The longer you stay, the more influence you have and the more things you can get done.”


Bibbs ran unsuccessfully against Republican Susan Martin for the House District 8 seat in 2012. He said he moved into the second story of the downtown Wilson building that also houses the Bibbs Law Office, which places him in District 24.

Farmer-Butterfield said constituents and campaign volunteers brought the issue to her attention and encouraged her to file a challenge with the N.C. State Board of Elections. She said Friday that she has not decided whether to do so.

"We are investigating whether or not we want to proceed on that issue,” Farmer-Butterfield said. "The leadership on my team will decide on how we want to proceed in that area.”

Bibbs responded to questions The Times asked about his residency in a prepared statement from Claudia T. Farmer, his deputy campaign manager.

"Mr. Bibbs’ residency is not an issue,” Farmer wrote. "He is a legal resident of 101 Douglas St. South, Wilson, North Carolina, which is located in House District 24. He has complied completely with the laws regarding residency.”

Farmer said the city of Wilson’s unified development ordinance adopted in January 2013 changed the zoning for Bibbs’ building from business to center city mixed-use, which accommodates both living space and work space.

Bibbs renovated the building in summer 2013 and added more than 3,000 feet of living space, including a bedroom, walk-in closet, full-sized bathroom and dining area, Farmer said. He changed his address of record on his voter registration on July 2 and his driver’s license and car registration on July 16, she said.

Bibbs’ living quarters and law office have separate addresses and city of Wilson utility meters, Farmer said.

The Times noted that Bibbs’ residential address does not appear on Wilson County tax maps. Farmer explained that the building sits on the corner of Nash and Douglas streets and "has different addresses for different uses.”

"The building entrances on Douglas Street use Douglas Street addresses, even though it is the same building that houses 300 Nash St. East,” Farmer said.


Farmer-Butterfield said voters will want to know why Bibbs has a separate residence from his wife and two children, an 8-year-old and a toddler.

"Certainly, they feel that it is not appropriate for someone to move out of their home with their wife and children — who has run before in that district where his wife and children live — and move into his office to claim residency and promote family values in the same breath,” she said.

Bibbs would not answer questions about how the change in homes has affected his family, Farmer wrote in a statement to The Wilson Times.

"Regarding your question about Mr. Bibbs and his family, that question is personal and out-of-bounds both now and in the future,” Farmer wrote. "He will not respond to any personal questions regarding his family. They are not an issue in this campaign and will not become one. Mr. Bibbs is still married to his wife and takes great care of his two daughters.”

Bibbs returned to practicing law in January after the North Carolina State Bar reinstated his law license, which had been suspended since November 2012. Regulators took away his license after they say he failed to abide by a consent order requiring him to remain sober.

Bibbs was convicted of driving while impaired in August 2006 and received probation and a suspended sentence, according to N.C. Division of Adult Correction records. He violated his probation and served about two weeks in jail in early 2009.

The Times asked Bibbs what he’s learned from his past DWI and law license suspension and whether he now abstains from alcoholic beverages. Bibbs and Farmer offered no response to the questions.

Bibbs said Friday at the Board of Elections office that he would only agree to answer questions from the newspaper in writing.

Farmer-Butterfield said that, like her legislative record, Bibbs’ past is something voters will likely want to familiarize themselves with.

"Voters need to be informed,” she said. "If they choose to look into that, it’s their right.” | 265-7821

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Boo mamma... said...

Mr Bibbs don't seem to know too much about how to get people back to work. he haint even got a job himself!

Monday, March 10, 2014 at 9:46 AM
@to concerned said...

There you go again - being dismissive of civil rights. Shame on you!

Saturday, March 08, 2014 at 10:50 PM
to Concerned said...

There you go again. As an issue, gay rights is way down the list of what's important to North Carolinians. The economy and putting people back to work should be at the top of any candidates list right now. Education is important, but right now college graduates can't find a good job in this state right now.

Friday, March 07, 2014 at 6:20 PM
Mark Bibbs said...

may not live over his office.

Friday, March 07, 2014 at 3:42 PM
Concerned re Bibbs said...

I have reservations about Mark Bibbs. When he ran for office several years ago, he made the remark, "I'm a moderate" to a roomful of Democrats. At the time, the issue across the state was the banning of same-sex marriages through a state constitutional amendment. "Liberals" and "radicals" were the labels given to those who supported the civil right of marriage equality. Bibbs used the code-term "moderate" to distance himself from this important civil rights issue. Farmer-Butterfield did not...I knew where she stood and she did not shirk her commitment to equality and civil rights for all. Bibbs appears ashamed or embarrassed to align himself with an equality/fairness agenda for North Carolina lgbt citizens and our families. He lacks backbone to take a stand when other Democrats are doing so. His "moderate" stance may cost him the votes of those who believe in justice for all.

Friday, March 07, 2014 at 12:54 PM
Mr Bibbs said...

why dont you get her voting record for the public see how liberal she really can be.

Thursday, March 06, 2014 at 3:25 PM To the good people of District 24 said...

I really feel bad for the good people of this district you have ZERO to pick from. One who runs on married name recognition every time and a clown who thinks people are dumb enough to believe he lives above his office.

Thursday, March 06, 2014 at 8:56 AM At I don't like said...

I'm glad to see that Bibbs didn't take the Wilson Daily Times' bait. There is no sense in keep talking about the DWI stuff. According to the articles in this paper, his first DWI charge occurred in 2004,and the 2nd and last one was in 2007. This is 2014. Why keep talking about it? As far as his residency, if he's a legal resident of District 24, what's the point of discussing that either? The Times will use whatever it can to keep a non-issue story alive. If Bibbs and his family are OK with it, it's none of our business.
Butterfield is not an easy target. She's a pitiful target. She barely won her first and ONLY Democratic primary back in 2002. There was no runoff then because of the redistricting lawsuit. So she slid in after a delayed primary in September of 2002. That district included Rocky Mount. Now Rocky Mount is out of the district and Greenville is in it. I understand that the Greenville paper ran a story yesterday about the Mayor of Greenville hosting a fundraiser for Bibbs next week. That's good news for Bibbs. Clearly the folks there don't care what our paper likes to keep stirred up from over 10 and 7 years ago.
It's time for Farmer-Butterfield to go. As Bibbs correctly points out, she's ineffective in Raleigh. Ranked 115 out of 120, the bottom 5%, is pitiful and pathetic. I'm with him. He can do much better.
So Bibbs, if you read this, I wouldn't talk to the Wilson paper at all.They mean you no good. Stay positive and run your race! You'll win that way.

Thursday, March 06, 2014 at 6:29 AM I don't like said...

Mark Bibbs only answers questions in writing because he doesn't want to answer DWI question, jail time questions, residency questions. He couldn't win against Susan Martin now he's coming over into district 24 because he thinks Ms. Farmer-Butterfield is an easy target. Please...

Thursday, March 06, 2014 at 12:35 AM Yup.. said...

Who to vote for? A Do nothing career politician, or a do nothing WANNA-BE career politician? Choices are so hard.

Monday, March 03, 2014 at 4:02 PM Family caregiver said...

Farmer-Butterfield's life experience uniquely places her in a position to understand an increasingly challenging women's issue. As a family caregiver (daughter) who sacrificed home and income to care for elderly parents, I know that statistics indicate the care of elderly is a growing problem for middle-income families. There's no safety net for middle-income elderly who don't qualify for Medicaid and don't have the funds set aside or insurance to pay for assisted living, nursing home, or private-duty, at-home nursing care. With seniors living often decades longer because of better healthcare, the task of caring for frail, middle-income seniors often falls upon adult daughters and other female members of the family. This is a huge women's issue in terms of economic stability. Women are having to give up their employment, income, and homes in order to care for elderly loved ones. We need government help and advocacy to receive tax-credits for these caregivers, as this issue is becoming more apparent as the baby-boomer generation ages. We need Farmer-Butterfield to represent middle-class families, seniors, and particularly, women, in this regard. Obamacare doesn't address this issue and those involved in caregiving need advocates. Farmer-Butterfield has this experience - we need her voice!

Monday, March 03, 2014 at 3:10 PM Why does the... said...

Wilson Times only show a picture of Jean Farmer Butterfield? She had her article when she filed. There should be a picture of Mr. Bibbs instead of Butterfield. Obvious already who this paper wants to win. I do not care either way as I think both are pathetic, Farmer-Butterfield is a do nothing legislator while Bibbs who is very capable of doing the job has so much baggage Southwest Airlines would not the bags fly for free. Anyway, my complaint is with the Wilson Times showing the picture of Butterfield and neglecting to put a picture of Mr. Bibbs.

Monday, March 03, 2014 at 1:36 PM present said...

candidate hasn't lived in her district for years. Mark have has his way but it's time for some new blood. The old family names been using it a bit to long. If you sit and talk each one it's oblivious Mr. Bibbs is a lot smarter.

Monday, March 03, 2014 at 1:07 PM Bibbs said...

Aint bibbs unemployed now? I don't think he works as a lawyer any more. why would any man leave his wife and kids to gain politicaly? I don't get it. He lost last time but now he's running in another district so he can try to win? And he won't answer any questions about his personal life; which is all fair game when you run for PUBLIC office? Sounds like another good-ole boy wanna be; trying to be just another crooked democrat in office.

Monday, March 03, 2014 at 11:30 AM drunkard said...

neither one of them deserve the office.

Monday, March 03, 2014 at 10:16 AM Open Minded........ said...

I will not vote for Jean F. Butterfield who is doing nothing......but riding on the Butterfield name. On the other hand Mark Bibbs put himself in this predicament. That leaves her camp with a list of dirty laundry to use against him.

Monday, March 03, 2014 at 9:52 AM At skeptic said...

That is exactly what Buck Newton does. He still has his law practice. The NC general Assembly is considered a PART TIME job.

Sunday, March 02, 2014 at 5:30 PM @I think... said...

How about someone with pending drug charges (a la the last race with Senator Newton)? Seriously though, what about an Independent? Would such a person stand a chance in today's political climate?

Sunday, March 02, 2014 at 4:28 PM 6 of one, half dozen of the other said...

I think it would be a tie. both are equally embarrassing.

Sunday, March 02, 2014 at 2:06 PM skeptic said...

what is his motivation for running for this seat? Didn't he run for another seat a few years ago? Why would one give up their law practice to govern? (because that's what he will have to do-can't be in court if you're in the legislature)I bet if you sat outside of his house on Edinburgh Drive you'd see that he really lives there.

Sunday, March 02, 2014 at 2:01 PM I think... said...

We need a third candidate. Maybe someone who isn't lazy and is also not an alcoholic.

Sunday, March 02, 2014 at 8:01 AM Free-man said...

Shhesh - this county's as bad as Macon County Ga
Talk about your good-ole-boys

Sunday, March 02, 2014 at 11:15 PM Just sayin' said...

The only thing that would make me vote for Mark Bibbs is for him to run against Farmer-Butterfield! We need to get rid of all of the Butterfields and the Fitches.

Sunday, March 02, 2014 at 11:12 PM Good move said...

I hope he wins. It's never good for politicians to stay where they are for too long. Change is good.

Saturday, March 01, 2014 at 7:29 PM BOB said...


Saturday, March 01, 2014 at 4:45 PM Curtis said...


Saturday, March 01, 2014 at 11:07 AM neither one said...

will be very effective in overwhelming republican control of state government that replaced 140 years of corrupt totally democratic control that was sent packing finally.

Saturday, March 01, 2014 at 10:50 AM Concerned said...

I commend Mark Bibbs for running. District 24 certainly needs someone who would get a rating better than 105 out of 110. I think Mark will do a better job than Jean has. If her rating was high, she would be saying how great it was. I was personally hoping she would not run. She is too busy with her aging parents to do a decent job of representing the citizens of Wilson and Pitt County. As far as Mark's personal issues, this newspaper needs to do an article on the Presidents of the United States and their addictions. I do not recall this newspaper writing one word about George Bush's alcohol problems, do any of the readers? It is sounding like a broken record touting the personal problems of Mark and his struggle with alcoholism. I, personally, could care less because I know that it certainly has not affected his intelligence and his ability to be concerned about the district he would represent. He will do well as a representative. It is very telling that all of a sudden Jean has decided to make appearances in the community when we did not see or hear from her in years. She is good on not showing up and that has been her norm until recently. I think it is admirable to take care of one's parents but that is a full time job and she does not have the time or energy to fulfill the duties of a representative anymore. I hope people are thinking about the future of Wilson and Pitt Counties and who will really stand up and fight for the issues that affect us. A Vote for Mark Bibbs would be the thing to do if you care about your county.

Saturday, March 01, 2014 at 8:17 AM Clowns said...

both of them

Saturday, March 01, 2014 at 8:00 AM about time said...

Thank goodness she has an opponent! She's never had one since 2002! She's completely ineffective. Mark Bibbs hit that right on the head. I'm tired of hearing the D.W.I. stuff from 10 years ago or 7 years ago, whichever.
I couldn't vote for him before because Jean was on my ballot. I will in May though. She's an embarrassment! I'm glad Hibbs moved his residence into my part of town. I'll be proud to have him represent east Wilson and me.

Saturday, March 01, 2014 at 7:44 AM
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