HILLSBOROUGH - Kathy Hartkopf, an active Orange County Republican and self-described fiscal conservative, filed Monday to run for the state House of Representatives.
Hartkopf is running in the newly created House District 55, which includes 12 precincts in central and northern Orange County and all of Person County. She's the sole Republican to file in the new district in the filing period that started Friday, along with two Democrats - Ken Rothrock, an attorney from northern Orange; and Rep. Gordon Allen, a Person County Democrat who currently serves in House District 22.
Allen, whose current district includes Person and parts of Granville, Vance, Warren, Halifax and Franklin counties, also filed Monday for the 55th District.
The precincts in Orange County that are part of the 55th District include Hillsborough, West Hillsborough, Grady Brown, Cameron Park, Eno, Cedar Grove, Caldwell, Cheeks, Efland, St. Marys, Tolars and Carr.
Hartkopf lives on Uphill Court in the Cornwallis Hills subdivision in southern Hillsborough with her husband, Al, and two daughters. Al Hartkopf also is running for elected office this year, seeking a seat on the Orange County school board.
Kathy Hartkopf has been the spokeswoman for Citizens for a Better Way, a local group that formed last year and campaigned against the $ 75 million bond package in Orange County, which the voters ended up approving in November. The group argued in part that the bond package was too large, dollar-wise, given persistent doubts about the health of the economy.
Hartkopf said last year that, in spite of the fact that one of her daughters attends Hillsborough Elementary, she would vote against the bond package, which included $ 900,000 for renovations at Hillsborough Elementary as part of $ 47 million for county and city schools. She said she felt the renovations were needed, but that she couldn't support the entire schools bond referendum.
Kathy Hartkopf also has helped establish a local chapter of the Citizens for a Sound Economy, a group based in Washington, D.C., that has regional offices and calls for lower taxes and limited government.
"I believe my candidacy represents an opportunity for the values of the people of northern Orange and Person counties to be heard in the North Carolina General Assembly," Hartkopf said in a statement. "I am proud to be known as a fiscal conservative. I look forward to continuing this ideology and this work on the state level. Just as we do in our own homes, our state must function within its means."
Hartkopf grew up in Pamlico County and was active in 4-H, and she remains a lifetime member of the North Carolina 4-H Honor Club. She graduated from Peace College and was a fellow of the Institute of Political Leadership at UNC-Wilmington.
She also is a member of the Orange County Republican Party executive committee, president of the Regulator Republican Women, president of the Duke Memorial Weekday School Parents Council, chairwoman of the fund-raising committee for Hillsborough Elementary PTA and a member of that PTA's executive board and director of the Parent's Morning Out program at Calvary United Methodist Church.
Unless another Republican joins the race for the 55th House seat, Hartkopf will face the winner of the Sept. 10 Democratic primary that will include Allen, Rothrock and any other Democrat who files for the 55th.
Allen said Monday that he believed many of the issues that concern his constituents in District 22 are similar to those in central and northern Orange County. He specifically mentioned economic development and education.
"The problems that [Orange residents] have are the same problems that Person has, and also the other five counties I'm serving right now," he said. "The issues are very similar.
"Education, of course, is the biggest issue that affects all of us," he said. "Recruiting teachers, finding teachers. We're producing 3,000 teachers a year, and we need 10,000."
Allen, 73, lives on Crestwood Drive in Roxboro and was principal owner of the family insurance business, Thompson-Allen Inc., until recently, when his son took over ownership. He is a combat veteran of the Korean War and has five children and 17 grandchildren.
Allen is in his third House term, and also served three terms in the N.C. Senate in the 1970s. He said Monday that Orange County wouldn't be new to him, in part because his district during his first two Senate terms included Orange, Person and Durham counties.
Allen currently is co-chairman of the House Finance Committee, and serves on the Education, Environment and Natural Resources, Legislative Redistricting, Rules and Transportation committees.
Allen also is a member of the education subcommittee on community colleges. He is a trustee of Piedmont Community College in Roxboro, and helped lead the effort to create the school about 30 years ago.
Allen said he would support the creation in Orange County of a satellite campus for Durham Technical Community College. Both the Orange County Commissioners and Durham Tech officials have committed to creating the satellite campus within the next four years, and they are beginning the process of choosing a site.
"The community colleges are one of the finest things that have ever happened to North Carolina," Allen said.