RALEIGH — When Republican lawmaker Jim Fulghum jumped into the race for state Senate earlier this year, the decision left his seat in House District 49 open.
Only one Republican, Gary Pendleton, a former Wake County commissioner, decided to run for seat, meaning his name automatically will appear on the general election ballot in November.
But two Democrats, Kim Hanchette and Derek Kiszely, are vying to win Tuesday’s primary and face Pendleton this fall.
Hanchette, 55, is the founder of Diabetes Management Solutions, a 14-year-old nonprofit that provides diabetes prevention and management education, and a long-time volunteer leader with Wake County Public schools and neighborhood groups.
Kiszely, 25, is a sales and operations manager at Hetzberg Furs and has volunteered with organizations including Habitat for Humanity and the Boys & Girls Club.
Hanchette said her track record as a problem solver makes her the best candidate for the job. Since she started Diabetes Management Solutions, the group has helped more than 10,000 people with referrals from more than 650 physicians.
“We proved that we were bringing healthier outcomes, which also related to cost savings,” she said.
All the members of Wake Democratic House Caucus have endorsed Hanchette.
Kiszely is pushing his youth as an asset in the race, saying that perspective matters as much as experience.
Many of the issues he would hope to tackle in the legislature, including health care and education, are deeply important to young people who have too little representation in the legislature, he said.
“We’re the ones who have to grow up in this state,” he said.
Both candidates say state officials made the wrong choice when they declined to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. Both also say the state needs to boost teacher pay and make sure those in the profession get the respect they deserve.
“I think we need to be a leader in the jobs of the future,” Hanchette said.
Hanchette said boosting education is critical not just so that students succeed but so that businesses continue to choose to come to the area.
Hanchette and Kiszely both also put protecting natural resources high on their list of priorities.
Kiszely also said that one of his top priorities would be to institute term limits in the legislature, a move he said would cut down on corruption and cronyism. He said career politicians too often forget the people they were elected to serve.
“That’s not healthy for our democracy,” he said.
District 49 includes northern parts of the city from I-440 to north of I-540, as well as an area inside the Beltline that stretches south to Wade Avenue.
Barr: 919-836-4952; Twitter: @barrmsarah