Mansfield out, Voller lone candidate for Chair of NCDP - WSFX - FOX Wilmington, NC

Mansfield out, Voller lone candidate for Chair of NCDP

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Mayor Randy Voller of Pittsboro is one of two men running to lead the NC Democratic Party Mayor Randy Voller of Pittsboro is one of two men running to lead the NC Democratic Party

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Mayor Randy Voller of Pittsboro said Thursday it's time for the Democratic Party in North Carolina to come together, ahead of what appears to be his upcoming election as the party's new chairman.

Voller commented hours after the other declared candidate, former state Sen. Eric Mansfield, backed out of the race citing his mother's health concerns.

"My heart goes out to Sen. Mansfield and his family," Voller said in a phone interview with WECT. "We had been in communication via text messages for the past four or five days. Senator Mansfield is truly a great leader, and the party will need him going forward."

Even though Voller is the lone remaining declared candidate, that would not preclude any floor nominations for chairman when the NCDP State Executive Committee meets in Durham February 2nd. Voller said he has spoken to past Chairman David Parker, amid rumors Parker may be nominated at the meeting. Voller says Parker has told him he would decline any nomination. Voller has also reached out to Nina Szlosberg-Landis, the Chair of the NC League of Conservation Voters. According to Voller, Szlosberg-Landis confirmed she intends to continue her run for First Vice Chair of the party.

"Now is the time for the party to come together, focus our message, and concentrate on February 2nd," Voller said.

In a statement posted on his website, Mansfield cited a family health condition for the decision to drop out of the race, saying his mother has developed "a rapidly deteriorating condition which requires my full attention."

Click here to read the entire statement.

Mansfield did not mention Voller in his statement. He said only that "I look forward to working with our next Chair, whomever that might be..."

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Randy Voller is in campaign mode once again. On the political scale, the seat is on a bigger scale than the two he already holds, as Mayor of Pittsboro and the head of the Chatham County Democratic Party. He's one of two men running to head up the North Carolina Democratic Party.

Voller and the other candidate for the position, former state Sen. Eric Mansfield of Fayetteville, have attended recent events together, sharing their platforms and roadmaps with party faithful. Members of the Democratic Party's State Executive Committee will meet in Durham on Feb. 2, to vote for the next chairman.

"No matter who wins this race, we are going to support and work with each other," Voller told Jon Evans in an interview in the WECT Studios. "Eric Mansfield has been a great leader and has had a great career in the military, and certainly the party would be well-served with Eric Mansfield. I am also running to offer my perspective and why I think I would do a good job. Judging by the number of people coming out to our events, even on a Saturday when they could be doing other things, tells me we're doing something right."

Voller is in his fourth term as Mayor of Pittsboro. He took over as county party chairman in 2011. Voller believes the experience he's gotten working on the county level can translate to success on the state level. "Chatham County had the highest voter turnout in the state, 76.51% in this last election," Voller said. "Democrats had an 80.6% turnout and the Hispanic vote was 72% so, we're doing something right."

Voller is running for the position at a time when Democrats in North Carolina are in an unusual position. Republicans gained control of both chambers in the General Assembly in 2010, for the first time in more than 140 years. The GOP solidified its' majorities in the House & Senate in 2012, and won races for Governor and Lieutenant Governor. The Democratic Party leadership was also mired in controversy following the resignation of Executive Director Jay Parmley, and criticism of the way Chairman David Parker handled the situation. Democrats also lost several seats in the state's Congressional delegation, and nearly lost another when incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre defeated GOP challenger David Rouzer by less than 700 votes.

"I'm not saying that anyone went wrong," Voller said when talking about the recent election results. "What we have to do now is regroup and revitalize. I'm here to revitalize, and to reinvest in our community and show that the party is an important voice in your community."

Voller's roadmap includes introducing some new themes into the "traditional" Democratic Party. "I think the party needs to embrace 21st century technology. It needs to see the demography and the change in this country. This is a purple state, and I intend to infuse some "blue" values into the DNA.  I'm doing this because I truly believe that if we change North Carolina, and show some real progress and some forward thinking, we'll change the United States."

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