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Independent election candidates for Cumberland County need thousands of signatures by noon Tuesday

Zach Traylor petitioning for N.C. House; Shelane Etchison petitioning for 9th Congressional District


State laws enacted by Republicans and Democrats make it extra hard for North Carolina’s largest group of voters — the independents — to run for office.

Unlike Democrats and Republicans, unaffiliated candidates Zach Traylor of Fayetteville and Shelane Etchison of Moore County are required to collect thousands of signatures from registered voters to get their names on the November ballots in Fayetteville and Cumberland County. They have until noon Tuesday to turn in their petitions.

Traylor wants to run for N.C. House of Representatives Dist. 44, which is in Fayetteville and is held by Democratic incumbent Charles Smith. Smith needed only one signature — his own — to get his name on November’s ballot. Traylor needs 2,170 signatures from voters in Dist. 44.

As of Friday morning, Traylor said, about 4,000 people had signed his petition, but only 1,760 were confirmed to be from voters living in N.C. House Dist. 44. He was uncertain he could get 2,170 confirmed signatures by Tuesday’s deadline.

The Dist. 44 election also has Republican candidate Freddie de la Cruz in the general election. Libertarians Angel Yaklin and Christina Aragues are in a primary to see which one of them will appear on the ballot in November.

Etchison seeks to be on the ballot for the 9th Congressional District election. The 9th District has all or part of seven counties. Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson of Moore County is the incumbent seeking reelection, and if he wins his primary against Republican Troy Tarazon of Harnett County, which is likely, Hudson will be on the November ballot.

Etchison needs 7,460 signatures to get her name on the ballot, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections. The board’s website on Friday said Etchison had submitted 4,229 signatures, and of those, only 2,554 could be counted toward her election effort. She has only a few days left to accumulate another 4,906 signatures from registered voters who live in the 9th Congressional District.

In Cumberland County, the 9th District has western and northwestern Fayetteville, Fort Liberty and Spring Lake. It also has Hoke and Moore counties, and runs north to the Greensboro area.

North Carolina has 7.46 million registered voters  as of Feb. 24.

Of these voters:

  • Almost 2.75 million, or 36.84%, are independent — unaffiliated with a political party.
  • 2.41 million, that is 32.33%, are Democrats.
  • 2.24 millon, or 30.02% are Republicans.
  • 60,023, just 0.8%, are in the Libertarian, No Labels party and Green Party.

Zach Traylor on the issues

CityView recently interviewed Traylor on 99.7 WIDU radio for his thoughts on three matters that might come before him should he get elected to the state legislature: Gambling laws, abortion and marijuana legalization.

Gambling — should video poker be legal?

The legislature in 2023 considered legalizing video poker and video lottery-type games. These are arcade-style games where people gamble to try to win money.

The state tried repeatedly to ban the games, but they continue to operate in a legal gray area, so last year a bill was considered, but not passed, to license and tax them. Revenues from the machines would be sent to historically Black colleges and universities, as well as University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and would also be used to pay the tuition of community college students.

“I fully support legalizing this gambling. It is going to happen” whether or not it’s legal, Traylor said. If it is legalized, the revenue should not lead to tax cuts, he said.

Gambling — should N.C. authorize new casinos?

The General Assembly in 2023 considered authorizing four casinos, and the revenue from them would offset tax cuts.

Traylor favors regulated casinos. “Building these casinos, they’re going to produce jobs,” he said.

The new casinos would be in addition to one operated by the Cherokee tribe in the mountains of North Carolina and another run by the Catawba tribe west of Charlotte. 

Abortion — to what degree should abortion be legal?

North Carolina enacted a new abortion law in 2023. Before, abortion was legal through 20 weeks of pregnancy. Now, it’s allowed only through the 12th week (though there are several limited exceptions for beyond 12 weeks).

What kind of abortion law does Traylor favor?

“I believe we need to give that decision back to the doctors,” he said. He would revert state abortion laws back to the 20-week limit, he said.

Shall marijuana be legalized?

The General Assembly in 2023 gave serious consideration to legalizing marijuana for people who need it to treat medical issues.

Some lawmakers would like to make marijuana legal for recreational use, too.

Traylor said he supports the legalization of marijuana for medicinal use and for recreational use.

Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at 910-261-4710 and pwoolverton@cityviewnc.com.

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2024 election, 9th district, ncga, nc house, district 44, zach traylor, Shelane Etchison