The race for the congressional seat of North Carolina's 1st District is developing quickly in anticipation of the Nov. 4 election.
After the ballot was solidified in the May 6 primary elections, candidates G.K. Butterfield and Arthur Rich have wasted no time informing voters of their stance on the issues that matter most to the state and country.
The two candidates represent differing perspectives on the issues facing voters in the upcoming election cycle—though both have expressed a concentrated effort in informing voters and encouraging young voters to engage in politics aside from solely presidential elections.
George Kenneth Butterfield—Democrat
After representing North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District since 2004, Butterfield easily claims the title of most experienced in this race.
The North Carolina native is seeking his fifth consecutive election in the district—though this is only the second time that Durham falls into his constituency. During the congressional redistricting after the 2010 census, the 1st District expanded to include Durham and Duke’s campus, areas that tend to vote heavily Democratic. Butterfield previously told The Chronicle that he happily welcomed the expansion.
He added that the nearly 750,00 people living in his district constitute an incredibly diverse electorate.
The 1st District is a “voting rights district” as described by the Voting Rights Act—the district must be drawn so that at least 50 percent of the population are minorities of voting age. Butterfield said it important for black voters to have a say about who represents them in Congress.
During his tenure as House representative, Butterfield worked under the Committee on Energy and Commerce. During this election cycle, the key points in his platform include absolute right to gun ownership, prioritizing green energy and women's rights to abortions.
Many citizens do not understand the workings of Congress, Butterfield noted, so he spends his weekends in North Carolina meeting the people of his district.
“You cannot cast an intelligent vote in Washington without really knowing your district,” Butterfield said. “And you can’t learn about your people over the Internet or by guessing.”
Butterfield won the 2012 election in a landslide with more than 75 percent of the vote.
Butterfield received both an undergraduate and law degree from North Carolina Central University and served in the Army from 1968 to 1970. Before venturing into politics, he has worked as an attorney and, later, a judge in District One.
Challenging Butterfield's reelection is Arthur Rich, who is hoping to make this his first successful venture into the world of politics.
After failing to win the primary election for the Republican bid for lieutenant governor of North Carolina in 2012, Rich announced his intention to run for election in November of 2013, nearly a year before Butterfield's term was set to expire. He then clinched the May 6 nomination with 5,519 of the 10,791 votes cast.
Rich presents his connection with the people of North Carolina through his past of dedication and hard work—citing his childhood as a time that he took responsibility for his family's agriculture business growing tobacco, cucumbers and other produce.
As a business consultant and tax accountant, Rich has had ample time to see the impact that student loans and debt can have on people's financial stability, and he has incorporated his proposed solution into his congressional platform.
"Younger Americans have been promised a better life through education and career opportunities but the career opportunities have gone backwards, not forward, at a time when everyone struggles to keep up. Student loan debt has quadrupled in the last decade," he writes on his platform website.
His platform also includes proposals that address the issues of job creation in American and an overhaul of the current unemployment benefits system.
"In this proposed plan, a state would not carry the liability or administrative responsibility in the case of employees laid off work, whatever the cause. Unemployment coverage would be determined by annual wages and/or the amount the employee wants/needs, equivalent to personal income and expense. The plan would apply to self-employed through multi-national; local, state and federal," he writes.
After growing up in Sampson County, N.C., Rich earned an associate degree from Sampson Community College. He later received a degree in economics and accounting from East Carolina University—whose mascot colors of purple and gold he has adopted as symbols of his campaign.