Micah Wilkins, Staff Writer
Democrat Patsy Keever was sworn in last Wednesday, Sept. 15, to fill the recently vacated seat of Representative Bruce Goforth in the North Carolina House 115 district.
Keever, who has close ties to Warren Wilson, is also the former Buncombe County Commissioner and has spent this past year running against Goforth in a bid for his position in the November election. Keever, however, came into the position four months earlier than she would have if she had won the election.
Democrat Goforth stepped down in July after he lost to Keever in the May primary. Goforth chose to resign despite the fact that no more legislative action is scheduled for this year. Lawmakers will not be called back into session until 2011, when the new session begins.
Goforth did not give any specific reason for leaving, but his resignation does come at a convenient time. Goforth resigned six months before the new session was to begin in January, which is also the amount of time in the “cooling-off” or waiting period, during which a former lawmaker has to wait before registering as a lobbyist and lobbying his former colleagues. If he had waited until his term expired this January, Goforth would have had to wait until July of 2011 to register as a lobbyist. But with this early resignation, Goforth can start lobbying as soon as January.
Goforth, however, has not confirmed that he intends to become a lobbyist.
“I’m keeping all my options open,” Goforth said. “That was not my intent when I was resigning, but I’m keeping my options open. I may [lobby] in the future. Who knows. We’ll see.”
As Goforth’s successor, Keever is working on her campaign to be elected in November against Republican candidate Mark Crawford.
“This is a lot of fun, but there’s not that much work,” Keever told the Mountain Xpress after her swearing-in ceremony. “The work is in getting elected in November, so that I can really serve the people in January when the session opens.”
Keever conveniently came into the
position when the Buncombe County Democratic Party Executive Committee voted to recommend her to fill the seat. Though she will not do any legislating this session before the election, she will technically be on the ballot in November as an incumbent.
Though she is now a representative, Keever may never have the opportunity to file a bill unless she wins the election Nov. 2.
“It’s almost inconsequential that she’s a representative now because, unless she wins in November, she’s never going to vote on anything,” said Able Allen, a 2010 Wilson alumnus, who volunteers for Keever’s campaign and chairs precinct 66.1, which is the college’s precinct.
Though Keever may not be too occupied as a representative, she is keeping herself busy with constituency work.
“I have an assistant to take care of constituency problems and she has a folder of emails that had been sent to Goforth and they had just been on hold for 6 weeks until there was a new representative,” Keever said. “It gives me an idea of what’s coming.”
According to Allen, Goforth was a successful representative and did a significant amount for his constituents.
“Bruce Goforth did a lot of really good things and we benefited a lot from what he did as a team player [of the Democratic Party],” Allen said. “But Patsy Keever is going to kick ass [if she wins]… It felt really good when I, as a member of the democratic party, voted to put Patsy in Bruce Goforth’s position.”
In order to actually be elected in November, though, Keever said she spends most of her time campaigning.
“I’m a lot busier campaigning than I am doing constituency work,” she said. “If we don’t get people out to vote, then all the work we’ve done won’t count for much. What I really want to do is serve the people in the legislature, when we actually are making laws.”