Keith Brinson said he is running for county commissioner to ask questions that no one else will ask.
In the Republican Party primary, Brinson is running against Chad Stewart, who was appointed to District 3 seat last year after the death of his father, longtime commissioner Wade Stewart. Commissioners also considered Brinson for the vacant seat. The winner in the May 6 primary should cruise to election in November because no Democrat filed to run.
District 3 encompasses much of Four Oaks, the Bentonville community, the Brogden community and Princeton, though voters countywide cast ballots in all commissioner races.
Brinson, 44, said he’s running because he believes “that the decisions that county government makes have a huge impact on the local economy, and we need thoughtful, conservative leaders to make informed decisions.”
“I’m running for commissioner to ensure that Johnston County remains a place that people can work hard, raise a family and keep the fruits of their labor,” he said.
Brinson’s vision for the county includes continued well-planned growth around business centers while maintaining roots in farming and a rural identity. His main priority is economic development.
Brinson wants the county to speak with one voice on economic development. He supports the hiring of a full-time economic-development director and the drafting of an economic-development plan.
Johnston County has a lot of resources, Brinson said, including its highways, airport, natural gas and its closeness to the Triangle. “That makes us a natural distribution hub for a lot of industries,” he said.
Brinson wants to make sure the county follows through on the economic-development plan, which should be ready sometime in May. He said Johnston is competing with every adjacent county and all counties touching Wake. He wants to brings jobs to Johnston so that not as many people have to commute and take their dollars to other counties.
Brinson said he’s glad the latest school bond referendum passed. “The biggest thing is we have to make sure that our infrastructure will support the growth and our educational system will support the growth,” he said.
Infrastructure includes roads. Brinson said he wants to make sure farmers have ways of moving around the county if the state moves forward with making U.S. 70 a freeway. He suggested service roads so that farmers can move equipment easily.
Brinson is a senior agent with N.C. Farm Bureau Insurance. “My job has taken me all over the county,” he said. “My job demands good customer service, and that’s the same type of constituent service that I would want to bring to the board of county commissioners.”
Brinson serves on the board of the Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce and on the Johnston County Tourism Authority. He is a former vice chairman of the Johnston County Republican Party.
Brinson was born in Wilmington and attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, though he did not complete a degree. “I had a few credits left, and I was offered a job in facilities management, and at that time, with that family situation, it just made sense to go to work,” he said.
That job was with a restaurant company. Brinson later moved to Emerald Isle and worked for Revco, the drugstore chain. He earned his real estate license and sold real estate on the side. He moved to Smithfield in 1997 for his job with the Farm Bureau.
His wife, Michelle, is an office manager, and his stepson works as a first responder for the Morehead City Fire Department.