2021 Kinston Voter Guide

Kinston voters: make your voice heard in this year’s election for Mayor and City Council!

About the 2021 Kinston Election

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Polls will be open Nov. 2 from 6:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. Find your Election Day polling place

Early voting runs Oct. 14 – Oct. 30. Find early voting sites

Learn about using same-day voter registration during early voting.

Questions about Kinston’s election? Contact the Lenoir County Board of Elections at 252-523-0636.

Candidates for Kinston Mayor (You may vote for one)

Don Hardy

Background: Mayor of Kinston (since 2017), chair of the NC Mayors Association, and board member of the NC League of Municipalities and National League of Cities. I’ve used these positions to advocate successfully for Kinston, including for more COVID-19 vaccines and testing, food assistance, and funds under the American Rescue Plan.

My top 2 or 3 priorities: My major focus is on improving our infrastructure – water and sewers systems, roads, Internet service – and also mitigating against flood damage. I will continue to be an effective advocate for Kinston with officials in Raleigh and Washington on these issues and for workforce training, community development and clean energy.

Zac Holcomb

Background: I’m CEO of an additive manufacturing company supplying “Made in USA” products right here in Kinston. Another of the three businesses I have launched involved renovating the old Parrott’s General Store. I have a history of following my vision and completing large-scale projects that are generally seen as initially impossible.

My top 2 or 3 priorities: My priorities as Mayor of Kinston are to improve infrastructure and education. We need our citizens to be mentally prepared for the new tech jobs coming to our region, and we need our infrastructure to be modernized to accommodate the influx of new businesses and residents coming to our town.

Felicia N. Solomon

Background: I have served our community selflessly for more than 20 years as an educator and city councilwoman (since 2015). I’m experienced with: bringing people together from diverse backgrounds to reach common goals; overseeing budgets for fiscal responsibility; and creating spaces and opportunities to meet the needs of others.

My top 2 or 3 priorities: 1. In an effort to provide a measure of relief to citizens, reducing property taxes is a major priority. Analyzing current revenue structures. Seeking and creating new revenue streams with minimal impact to citizens. 2. Continued economic and infrastructural growth (including broadband). 3. Building bridges within the community.

Jeffery Hiram Warren

Background: I am a native of Kinston and know the people of this city very well. I am an independent contractor and have worked throughout Kinston. I know the conditions of our city and how they can be improved.

My top 2 or 3 priorities: First, Kinston’s infrastructure urgently needs attention. I will immediately focus on improving road conditions and curbside appearance; this will benefit all residents as well as attract new industry. Second, we need lower property taxes, especially to help our elderly homeowners. Third, we need to improve our school system.

Candidates for Kinston City Council (You may vote for two)

Les Lipford

Background: I served 22 years in the military. I also hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a Masters degree in business administration.

My top 2 or 3 priorities: Two top priorities are town hall meetings and keeping our citizens informed.

What is your opinion regarding the creation of a Citizen Review Board for the City of Kinston Police Department and the role such a board should play in the selection of the Police Chief?
I think a citizen review board would be a great asset to have.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
The city should pursue policies that would keep it simple. Policies that will help our citizens quickly.

Michael R. Martin

Background: I was born in Kinston, attended ECU and have lived my entire life in eastern NC. I’m a sales representative at Massey Toyota, an elder of the First Presbyterian Church, and a former board member of Kinston Crime Stoppers and Flynn Home.

My top 2 or 3 priorities: First, work with developers to create more affordable housing for young professionals. Second, address crime and safety and improve communications between the underserved and law enforcement about their needs and duties. Third, the pandemic has demonstrated that everyone needs access to quality internet service, possibly as a public service.

James T. Sparks, Jr.

Background: Desert Storm 1990 Gulf Veteran USMC, Educator of NC, Family Advocate, Volunteer with local Salvation Army (6yrs), Ameri Corps (2yrs), Kinston Recreation Associate (22yrs) & a Community Activist.

My top 2 or 3 priorities: Infrastructure, Transparency with Law enforcement & the Community

What is your opinion regarding the creation of a Citizen Review Board for the City of Kinston Police Department and the role such a board should play in the selection of the Police Chief?
There should be a Citizen Review Board and transparency within the community collaborating with the City Council members in selecting the next Police Chief.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
Implementing grants from the Federal & State government provide free seminars for the underprivileged individuals to assist them in pursuit of affordable housing.

Chris J. Suggs

Background: Commissioner, Governor’s Crime Commission; CEO, Kinston Teens; UNC Senior Class President with Degrees in Political Science & Religious Studies; Previous work with: Nickelodeon, Facebook, Teen Vogue Magazine, BET, and First Lady Michelle Obama.

My top 2 or 3 priorities: My top two priorities are Community & Economic Development. Kinston has been ranked as the most economically distressed community in the state, yet we have significant potential in our downtown, East Kinston, and Global TransPark to turn that around.

What is your opinion regarding the creation of a Citizen Review Board for the City of Kinston Police Department and the role such a board should play in the selection of the Police Chief?
I am in full support of a Citizen Review Board. CRBs help increase trust and transparency in public safety, which are critical to improve our City. The voices of our citizens must be reflected in the hiring process for our next Police Chief.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
– Blight reduction & holding absentee property owners accountable; – Supporting the creation of a tenant’s association and making tenants aware of their rights; – Utilizing public & private investment to create energy efficient affordable housing.

Website: ChrisJSuggs.com

Robert A. Swinson IV

Background: Currently have served 16 years on Kinston City Council

My top 2 or 3 priorities: 1. Jobs 2. Housing

What is your opinion regarding the creation of a Citizen Review Board for the City of Kinston Police Department and the role such a board should play in the selection of the Police Chief?
We have talked to a group about a community citizen review board, however nothing has been put in place yet.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
We as a city just need to be open minded about housing here in Kinston.

Gwendolyn Woods

Background: I am a therapeutic parent for 21 years helping families being a bridge for them and just finished filming in my first movie Freedom of North Carolina that will go into the theaters on October 9, 2021.

My top 2 or 3 priorities: Bring about hope, and a new outlook on the long awaited change. When I’m elected… I will strive with all that is within my power to fulfill my purpose of making a long lasting difference in the surrounding communities.

What is your opinion regarding the creation of a Citizen Review Board for the City of Kinston Police Department and the role such a board should play in the selection of the Police Chief?
When we say budget, we’re handing the citizen money always remember when better is possible good is not enough this would produce Transparency, integrity, and accountability. And this is owed to the citizens and the police department as well.

What policies should the city pursue to improve the affordability of housing?
Take a good look at the entire community as a whole. Policies that would include the whole city insight, and vision for the community as a whole. I will make this promise I will do my HOMEWORK. When I win We Win. WITH GWEN WILL WIN.

Voting Tools

Questions about Kinston’s election?

Contact the Lenoir County Board of Elections at 252-523-0636