ASHEBORO — Republican State Rep. Allen McNeill’s (R-Randolph) announcement that he would not seek re-election in the N.C. House of Representatives in the 2022 election has drawn two candidates to succeed him in the state house seat covering much of Randolph and Moore counties.
The 2021 redistricting session changed the boundaries of District 78, shedding some precincts in eastern Randolph County and adding much of western Moore County including the village of Pinehurst. Both candidates who have announced their intention to run are Moore County residents.
Neal Jackson, pastor of Beulah Baptist Church in Bennett, had filed for the seat before the state Supreme Court suspended candidate filing and moved the state’s primaries to May 17.
Jackson, who was born in Pinehurst and lives in Robbins, has been the pastor at Beulah since 2009.
He says his campaign is pro-life, pro-family, and pro-freedom.
“The strength of North Carolina is the character of our people, not the size of our government. Individuals, families, and communities should be the ones that make the choices that affect them, not a dictatorial government. I will work to return more decisions and control to We the People,” he said in his campaign announcement.
His campaign platform is also centered on supporting law enforcement and he calls education one of the most important issues in the state. He says one of his goals would be to strengthen and expand the Opportunity Scholarship program.
In 2020, Jackson and his wife, Tracy, founded a residential group home for children in foster care. Jackson says his vision is to raise up 100 families in the community to be foster parents.
“The most important things in life are those closest to home: our faith, our family, and our freedoms. I will fight every day to protect traditional family values that are rooted in Biblical principles,” says Jackson.
“Part of my hesitancy was considering who would replace me and if their values and conservative philosophy would match the citizens I served. I am excited to know that Neal Jackson has stepped forward to meet this challenge and am 100% satisfied that he would do a great job representing the citizens of Randolph and Moore,” McNeill told North State Journal.
“He is a close friend that I have met with him through the years to discuss issues, and I always appreciate his thoughts and advice. I wish him good luck and know that the citizens of Randolph and Moore would find Neal to be a great representative who would serve them well.”
The second Republican in the race for District 78 is Nick Picerno, who spent eight years on the Moore County Commission from 2008-2016.
Picerno founded Southern Software, which develops and sells software to local governments and law enforcement agencies, in 1988. He was born in Carthage and currently lives in West End.
Picerno spent five years as the chairman of the Moore County Commission during his two terms on the board. In addition to his time on the board, he was a district director of the N.C. Association of County Commissioners.
In 2018, he was appointed to the N.C. Lottery Commission by N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Kings Mountain) and he serves on the commission’s Finance and Audit committee.
No Democrats have announced a campaign for the seat, which leans Republican in previous voting history.
McNeill, who retired from the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department before he was appointed to the N.C. House seat in 2012, is serving his fifth full term in the House after replacing longtime Randolph County representative and former state House Speaker Harold Brubaker.