Candidate filing for the 2020 election began at noon Monday with a handful of hopefuls looking to maintain their seats, and at least one seeking to reclaim what was once his.

Iredell County Commissioner Gene Houpe, Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education member Bill Howell (District 2) and state Rep. Jeff McNeely were the first incumbents to file. McNeely was appointed to North Carolina’s District 84 in July when Rep. Rena Turner resigned at the end of June.

McNeely said that moving from his former seat as Iredell County Commissioner to working at the state level has come with a steep learning curve, but has been rewarding.

He said he’s been proud to introduce more farmer-friendly policies into the North Carolina Farm Act of 2019 and to work on several other bills.

He said running for office at the state level is different than at the county level.

“Actually my area (jurisdiction) has gotten smaller, but it’s a higher stakes game,” he said.

He said he plans to fund-raise and be at every event possible.

“I’m just looking forward to continue serving the people of Iredell County,” he said.

The prospective new, yet familiar, face on the ballot is that of Grey Mills, who served Iredell County’s District 95 in the North Carolina House of Representatives from 2009 to 2013.

Rep. John A. Fraley, who currently represents District 95, announced Nov. 26 he will not file for re-election.

Although the 2020 election is 11 months away, the Iredell County Board of Elections is already working on it.

Director Becky Galliher said voting for military personnel overseas has already begun, and absentee mail voting begins in January with the primary election scheduled for March 3.

“People don’t understand the importance of the primary,” she said. “They don’t understand it determines what the ballots look like in November.”

For the 2016 general election, 70.57% of eligible votes in Iredell County voted, compared to 35.64% in the primary.

Galliher said she expects similar numbers in both elections this year.

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