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Rep. Susan Martin won’t seek 4th term in state House

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Facing a showdown with a longtime colleague for a consolidated state House seat, Rep. Susan Martin will not seek re-election in 2018 and plans to retire when her third term expires next year.

Martin, R-Wilson, announced her decision in a Monday email message to supporters and constituents.

“I ran in 2012 because we needed a fresh voice in Raleigh,” Martin wrote. “Now it is time for someone else to add their new voice. After much prayer and discussion with my family, I’ve decided not to run for re-election in 2018. I have loved serving the citizens of Wilson and Pitt counties and look forward to continuing to effect change.”

The 2017 court-ordered legislative redistricting process resulted in Martin being double-bunked with eight-term Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield, D-Wilson, in House District 24.

Wilson County is currently split between Farmer-Butterfield’s District 24 and Martin’s District 8. The latter district will consist of northwestern and central Pitt County and the redrawn District 24 will encompass all of Wilson County, where there are twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans.

“I’m still interested in the House position and feel good about working with and for the people of Wilson County,” Farmer-Butterfield said Monday. “I understand Susan’s decision and I respect it, because it seems as though she has her family’s priorities first and foremost.”

Wilson County GOP Chairwoman Christy Fyle said several prospective candidates are eyeing the District 24 seat. Any Republicans interested in running are encouraged to meet with party officials.

“Susan just did a remarkable job being our representative for both Wilson and Pitt counties,” Fyle said. “She accomplished so much in her time up there that you can’t even list it all. Her shoes are going to be tough to fill.”

Martin’s influence in the N.C. House has steadily risen since her freshman term. She co-chairs the finance and commerce committees and is a vice chair of the committee on regulatory reform.

House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, called Martin “a legislative leader on tax and economic issues” in a news release praising her effectiveness.

“Rep. Susan Martin is an exceptional member of the state House who is uniquely committed to serving her constituents in eastern North Carolina,” Moore said in the Monday release. “Her steadfast voice on behalf of families in Wilson and Pitt counties will be missed by her colleagues in the General Assembly and all North Carolinians who deserve the hard work and strong character she embodies as a legislative leader.”

Sen. Rick Horner, R-Wilson, said he’s enjoyed working with Martin as a fellow member of Wilson County’s legislative delegation.

“I just think she’s very well-respected and I wish her well,” he said. “She was considered a rising star in the House to my understanding. I just wish her well in whatever the future holds for her.”

As a retired IBM executive, Martin brought her business experience into politics and achieved success on tax and regulatory reform. She worked to ease the nuclear power plant debt that left N.C. Eastern Municipal Power Agency customers straining under some of the state’s highest electric rates.

Wilson Energy’s rate reductions have saved more than $34 million for city utility customers since September 2015, Martin said in her email announcement.

Martin said her focus has remained on serving her constituents in Wilson and Pitt counties.

“When I was sworn in for my first term I felt like a spy for the people,” Martin wrote. “I consider myself a public servant: making every effort to achieve real results for real people, taking time to learn about opposing views and alternative approaches, differentiating between what is nice in theory and what can be achieved in practice within the role of government.”

Martin expressed gratitude to her husband, Dr. Lew Martin, and thanked her family “for always standing with me, believing in me and sacrificing to help make a difference.”While Monday’s announcement ends speculation about Martin’s plans for the 2018 legislative race, she plans to serve the remainder of her third term. The General Assembly’s biennial short session convenes Jan. 10.

“Even though I’m not running for re-election, I remain dedicated to making a difference for our community and state,” Martin wrote.

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