Political Notebook: Lieutenant governor candidate isn’t Wilson’s Allen Thomas

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Wilsonians are noticing a familiar name on campaign signs dotting city roadsides, but it’s a case of mistaken identity.

The Allen Thomas running for lieutenant governor is a Hoke County commissioner — not the well-known Wilson lawyer who serves as managing partner of Farris & Thomas Law or his son Allen Thomas Jr., the firm’s office manager and a collector of fine art.

The Wilson Times fielded inquiries about the Thomas signs on Monday. The candidate may also be confused with Allen M. Thomas, the former mayor of Greenville, and Allen Thomas, the C.B. Aycock High School baseball coach.

Allen Melvin Thomas Jr. of Raeford is running in the Democratic lieutenant governor primary on a platform of ending poverty, increasing school funding, raising the minimum wage and reforming the criminal justice system. His 2014 election made him the youngest commissioner in Hoke County’s history, according to his campaign website.

Thomas faces five opponents in the March 3 primary: State Sen. Terry Van Duyn, D-Buncombe; Rep. Chaz Beasley, D-Mecklenburg; Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley, D-Wake; Bill Toole, a Charlotte environmental lawyer and former Belmont city councilman; and Ron Newton, a Durham businessman who owns State of the Art Financial Services.

In the Republican primary, nine candidates are in the running to become the GOP’s lieutenant governor nominee. They are former U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers; Mark Johnson, the current state superinentendent of public instruction; state Sen. Andy Wells, R-Catawba; former state Rep. Scott Stone; Iraq War veteran and policy adviser Greg Gebhardt; New Bern businessman Buddy Bengel; John L. Ritter, a lawyer in Moore County; Mark Robinson, a Greensboro man known for a viral video advocating for Second Amendment rights; and Deborah Cochran, a former teacher and Mount Airy councilwoman and mayor.

Current Lt. Gov. Dan Forest is running in the Republican gubernatorial primary and hopes to challenge Gov. Roy Cooper in November.

The lieutenant governor’s role is similar to that of the vice president, though in North Carolina, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately. Lieutenant governors serve as president of the N.C. Senate and can vote to break a tie and also have a seat on the state education, community colleges and economic development boards as well as the N.C. Military Affairs Commission.

Butterfield promotes free tax prep services

Attendees of a Monday event at Edgecombe Community College heard from U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-Wilson, about free tax preparation such as Free File, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly programs.

“IRS-sponsored free tax preparation services are critical resources for thousands of North Carolinians, providing hardworking taxpayers with the help they need to safely and accurately prepare and file their tax returns,” according to Butterfield’s prepared remarks, which were delivered by his staff because the Wilsonian had another obligation in Washington. “I know my constituents rely heavily on these critical resources to improve their financial well-being, secure their financial futures and keep more of their hard-earned money in their wallets.”

Residents are encouraged to find out more about tax preparation assistance by visiting taxtimeallies.org, irs.gov/filing/e-file-options/, irs.gov/vita or ncdor.gov/ncfreefile/.

“Filing taxes online is secure, convenient and more efficient than paper filing,” said N.C. Secretary of Revenue Ronald Penny. “Most North Carolinians can use NCFreeFile to file both their federal and state tax returns free of charge through the North Carolina Department of Revenue.”

Teachers’ group endorses Cunningham

The North Carolina Association of Educators has endorsed several candidates in statewide primary races.

Cal Cunningham earned the association’s stamp of approval in his U.S. Senate campaign. The former state legislator faces current state Sen. Erica D. Smith, physician Atul Goel, Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller and Steve Swenson in the Democratic primary, with the winner facing Sen. Thom Tillis in November.

The group endorsed Jessica Holmes, the Wake County Board of Commissioners’ immediate past chairwoman, in her race for commissioner of labor.

Ronnie Chatterji earned the association’s endorsement for state treasurer.

Jen Mangrum won the teachers’ group’s support in her bid to become superintendent of public instruction.

Tillis touts ‘Opportunity Zones’

Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., stood alongside President Donald Trump in Charlotte to show the success “Opportunity Zones” are having in the state and across the country on Friday.

The special economic development zones were created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which Tllis supported.

“Opportunity Zones provide a chance for U.S. investors to use a temporary capital gains referral in exchange for investing the capital in these communities,” a release from Tillis states. “This investment opportunity will create new channels for capital that will grow jobs, inspire entrepreneurship and improve the local economy for future generations. Last year, the United States Treasury certified 252 Opportunity Zones in all 100 North Carolina counties.”

“I’m proud to have supported the creation of Opportunity Zones across North Carolina, and I want to thank President Trump for speaking today at the Opportunity Now Summit in Charlotte,” Tillis added. “All North Carolinians deserve their shot at realizing the American dream, and Opportunity Zones are already making an impact by tackling poverty and investing in communities to promote development and economic prosperity.”

Dems: Zones are ‘windfalls for the rich’

The N.C. Democratic Party pounced on Tillis’ appearance celebrating the “Opportunity Zones,” calling the designation a “tax scam” and “a tax shelter for high-wealth individuals and trust funds.”

“President Trump and Washington Republicans passed a massive corporate tax giveaway to the wealthy few and big corporations, leaving middle-class North Carolina families struggling to keep up with the rapidly rising cost of living,” state party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said in a prepared statement. “Even the policies he touts as helping low-income North Carolinians are in reality a massive windfall for the rich at the expense of working-class North Carolinians and our communities of color. President Trump’s broken promises to North Carolinians mean the rich get richer while working families struggle to keep up.”

Citing analysis from the New York Times, Goodwin said the Trump administration’s Opportunity Zone policy is a “windfall for the rich” that “has fueled a wave of developments financed by and built for the wealthiest Americans,” -calling it a “once-in-a-generation bonanza for elite investors.”

The N.C. Democratic Party called the 2017 tax law “a lopsided giveaway to the corporate sector while offering negligible benefits for American workers” that caused an increase in the federal deficit.

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK is a weekly roundup of local and state political news from The Wilson Times’ reporting staff. Send tips and comments to editor@wilsontimes.com.