Carolyn Justice, a former North Carolina House Representative from Pender County, has been elected as the new vice chairwoman for the state’s Republican Party.
Justice said during a Feb. 24 interview the committee that elected her included the chairs, vice chairs and members of county Republican parties in all 100 counties throughout North Carolina, which she said totaled about 620 people.
“This is not like winning a race in the area where you live, and people have known you for years,” Justice said. “I can’t possibly know all those people, and they can’t possibly know me, so this was a little more difficult. … But I am surely delighted and excited about the opportunity.”
Justice served 10 years in the General Assembly, where she worked on legislation to reduce taxes for small businesses, environmental issues and increasing transparency for nonprofits receiving public funding. One of her proudest achievements, she added, was her work passing legislation requiring voters to furnish photo identification at the polls.
“I know a lot of folks disagree with that, but I think it was a great thing to have done for North Carolina,” she said. “Every person that goes into the polls knows that their vote is secure and no one else can take their vote away from them.”
Justice, who retired from public office in 2012, said her years in the House honed her ability to bring together people with differing opinions, which she considers her biggest asset for the state party.
“I’m a good facilitator. I think I know how to inspire people,” she said. “Within the Republican Party there are diverse attitudes — just by being a conservative you are an independent thinker — and so we can have strong opinions that differ with each other.”
After Republican gains in 2010 and 2012 at the state level, Justice said the big challenge this year is simply holding on to that momentum.
“I’m talking specifically about the U.S. Senate race, that we need to pull together if we hope to win that seat from [U.S. Sen.] Kay Hagan in November,” she said. “Our mission is getting people to the polls, so by using that race as a catalyst, then all the way down the ticket Republicans will benefit.”
Her new responsibilities as the state party’s vice chair will include helping the chairman reach out to the county-level parties in the state, ensuring they have the support they need, including candidate recruitment and using technology as a campaign tool.
She added it is not a paid position.
“That’s what you do for love of government,” she added, laughing.
One of her first projects will be helping to organize a candidates’ forum for the New Hanover County Republican candidates March 6, 6-8 p.m. at the New Hanover County Northeast Regional Library.