Hopkins seeks new Wilson-Nash state House seat | The Enterprise
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Hopkins seeks new Wilson-Nash state House seat

Posted on November 14, 2021

Updated on November 24, 2021

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cfriedman@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7813

Fontenot

Fontenot

Rankin

Rankin

Hopkins

Hopkins

Fontenot

Fontenot

Rankin

Rankin

When he’s not studying for finals at N.C. State University, Alsey Hopkins is knocking on doors in Nash and Wilson counties to seek voters’ support in next year’s Republican state House primary.

Hopkins, a junior history major who recently transferred from Nash Community College, wants to represent the new House District 24 in the General Assembly. He lives near Middlesex, and new legislative voting maps approved Nov. 4 combines the Bailey and Middlesex voting precincts with all of Wilson County to form the new district.

“I was very nervous at first,” Hopkins said. “I didn’t know how a younger candidate would be received. Most people seem very excited by the idea that there might be someone very fresh.”

While candidate filing is Dec. 6-17, fellow Republicans Mick Rankin of Stantonsburg and Ken Fontenot of Wilson have already announced their intent to run for the District 24 seat. Fontenot narrowly lost a 2018 contest with former Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield, and Rankin was the 2020 GOP nominee for the House seat Rep. Linda Cooper-Suggs, D-Wilson, currently holds.

Hopkins said inflation, including rising gas prices, education reform, labor shortages and the fairness of federal and state social safety net programs are among the top issues voters raised during his canvassing.

“A woman explained to me that she was right on the edge of getting government support, but she made a little too much money,” he said. “People are very concerned about gas prices. It’s a whole variety of issues.”

Hopkins spent his early childhood in Nash County and split his time between there and Gaston County after his parents divorced. He currently lives with his grandparents on Hopkins Road north of Middlesex. His father, Ted Hopkins, operates Civiltek Land Surveying in Spring Hope.

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Hopkins wants to attend law school and pursue a career in real estate law.

“I plan to put my roots down right where I am in Nash County and raise a family here,” he said.

While the first-time candidate initially planned to run in Rep. Matthew Winslow’s House district, Hopkins said combining southern Nash with Wilson County in District 24 makes sense considering the communities’ close ties.

“I grew up going to Wilson,” he said. “We would always come to town to eat Parker’s Barbecue. I really feel like the city has improved greatly since I was a kid. I’m proud of how it’s grown. Wilson’s an important area to people in my neck of the woods.”

Though he praised his instructors at Nash Community College and N.C. State, Hopkins said the K-12 public education system is in need of an overhaul.

“I want to see sweeping changes to education — I think it’s desperately needed,” he said. “I really think the school system is not practical. It needs to mold you into being the best citizen you can. A lot of times, the school system is more interested in grading you than making sure you learn and understand.”

On his wish list for public schools are smaller class sizes and more concern for individual students and teachers.

“We need to value our educators more,” Hopkins said.

If elected, Hopkins said the first bills he plans to sponsor would increase funding for new school construction, boost teacher and support staff pay and require more real-world applications for classroom lessons. Another legislative priority would be developing a high-speed rail system to connect the state’s largest cities, Charlotte and Raleigh, to facilitate tourism and economic development.

From elementary school students to the elderly, Hopkins said many residents need more help from state and local agencies.

“There is a downright criminal amount of people in our area who have nowhere to go and no one to help them because they’re older and they live alone,” he said.

A self-described naturalist and a beekeeper currently tending two hives, Hopkins wants to balance residential and business growth with wildlife and farmland conservation.

“It seems to me that governments are kind of wanting to move away from us being an agricultural state,” he said. “I really want to preserve the rural character of North Carolina. I don’t like urban sprawl. I don’t want to see our cities boom and absorb these family farms and turn them into subdivisions.”

Preserving eastern North Carolina’s culture and traditions is also a priority as new residents move here from other states. Hopkins said he’s noticed only a handful of other N.C. State students who speak with a Southern accent.

“I want to make a movement of young people that’s inclusive,” he said. “We have a lot of newcomers. I don’t dislike the newcomers; I want to bring them into the fold.”

Hopkins said state lawmakers should require city and town governments to be more open and accountable to their residents.

“There’s issues with corruption in our area that I’d really like to see fixed,” he said. “I really think there’s some bad folks leading some of our towns. I don’t think people are getting a fair shake in their local governments.”

Facing more seasoned politicians with military and community leadership experience — Fontenot is a Marine Corps veteran, pastor and former teacher and Rankin is a rancher and retired Navy officer — doesn’t intimidate Hopkins.

“I think I can win it,” he said. “My drive to want to do it is my deep passion for the people and for the community. Even if I do lose, I will have gained a lot of knowledge.” 

Editor's note: A previous version of this story misstated the numerical designation for the new Wilson-Nash state House district. While a draft redistricting plan labeled the area House District 15, the General Assembly's ratified bill designates the territory as District 24. References to the district number have been corrected online. The Times regrets the error.

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