Phelps won't seek election in new House District 1


D. Cole Phelps


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Washington County Commissioner Cole Phelps will not seek election to the new House District 1 seat.

“After careful consideration, I am convinced the time is not right,” Phelps, a Democrat and attorney, said in a press release shared with The Daily Advance this week.

Phelps expressed interest in the seat back in September, citing legislative redistricting that will add Washington County to the district now represented by state Rep. Bob Steinburg, R-Chowan.

Instead of running again for his House seat, Steinburg, a three-term lawmaker, has announced he's running for the new Senate District 1 seat next year. The holder of the seat in the current Senate District 1, Sen. Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, has announced he won’t seek a fourth term. 

Phelps could not be reached Tuesday for an interview on his decision not to seek election. In the release, however, Phelps explained he wanted to focus on serving as a county commissioner for now.

“While I would like to broaden my reach across eastern North Carolina, it is more important right now for me to complete a few more of the projects I set out to accomplish for the residents of Washington County,” said Phelps, now in his second term as a commissioner. He did not identify specific projects.

Phelps also said it's important for the 1st House District has strong leadership, adding “I know it's important to make my intentions known early for others who may be interested in jumping into this crucial race.”

Only one candidate, former Ferry Division Director and former Chowan Commissioner Eddy Goodwin, has said thus far he plans to run for the House District 1 seat. Goodwin plans to be a candidate in the Republican primary in March. 

In studying the idea of running for the seat, Phelps said in September his decision would be contingent on the level of support he received, as well as the revised district lines surviving legal review. North Carolina was forced to redraw legislative maps after a federal court threw out a number of districts judges deemed “racial gerrymanders.”

Though the new districts are still in the courts, judges are most focused on districts in other parts of the state.