On Tuesday, November 8th, eyes were glued to the news as votes were tallied for government positions across the country. While the presidential election had everyone’s attention, on the state level local representative John Bell was celebrating a victory. Voters in Wayne, Craven, Lenoir, and Greene counties had put their faith in Bell for a 3rd term representing their counties in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
The story begins in Mount Olive, NC. Bell was born and raised in Eastern North Carolina and his parents Ricky and Cindy were both great role models for Bell growing up. Bell graduated from North Duplin High School and continued his education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. After college, Bell began his professional career with the Boy Scouts of America in Goldsboro with the Tuscarora Council covering Duplin and Sampson counties. Bell spent a brief time with the Gulf Coast Council in Pensacola, Florida but couldn’t stay away from North Carolina. Bell returned to NC to start his career in banking, managing a bank in Goldsboro. He moved to the NC Community Credit Union in February 2007 and is about to celebrate his 10 year anniversary with the credit union.
If you ask Bell who helped shape his life, he will tell you he had a lot of help along the way. Two staples in his life were his grandparents, Norwood and Elinor Ezzell. It doesn’t take long to realize he has experience with the issues he pushes in the general assembly. Bell’s grandfather was a veteran who started his own business and his grandmother made sure her kids and grandkids received a good education. His father Ricky worked for the NC DOT and his mother Cindy worked for the Red Cross and the medical manufacturing field.
Education, infrastructure, and business are some of the big issues facing our state right now.
“We can have the best tax climate in the country, but if we don’t have an educated and prepared workforce— we are lacking,” said Bell. He says whatever works for a specific child whether it be public education, home-schooled education, private education, or charter education, a child should be able to get a quality education.
When you get down to the divide in our state many think it is a Republican vs. Democrat divide, but Bell says, “It’s actually urban vs. rural.” He explains that we must have the ability to connect rural areas to urban areas. It is important today to connect point A to point B and we have to have infrastructure to do that. Improving the trucking, rail systems, and the port system will make sure our state can remain competitive on a global scale.
When disaster struck at home, Bell stepped up and made sure needs were met in the counties he serves. Today he is still working on relief in Eastern North Carolina. Initially Bell worked with Pat McCrory to put a $200 million flood package together will small business loans and matching grants for FEMA. Bell helped local officials and agencies with anything they needed and said, “it was amazing to see all our county agencies and staff work together and seeing our community step up.”
Today, Bell has been voted in as the House Majority Leader. North Carolina Senate and House are both controlled by Republicans, but the office of the Governor has been filled by Democrat Roy Cooper. Bell spoke with Cooper last weekend and told him he was ready to meet and find common ground. “We can play the petty political games, but in the end that does nothing for North Carolina. If it’s what’s best for North Carolina and moving North Carolina forward, we’re going to find a lot of common ground. But if he wants to expand Obamacare and wants to raise taxes—those are things we are going to fight him on…and plan on fighting him on.” Businesses are coming to North Carolina. We have the fastest growing economy in the country, and we went from the 44th worst tax climate to the 11th best in just four years. Bell plans to continue the work that is best for North Carolina, and is ready to get started with his fellow representatives.
Bell gives 100% to his job, and says the hardest part of the job is being away from his family. His wife Kelli and his daughter Averi often hit the road with him when he’s traveling the state. “Having to go to meetings whether it be in the district, or out of the district, those are things people don’t see on TV but the time away from friends and family is probably the toughest part.” Bell’s friends will be the first to tell you that he is an avid sports fan, even though he had his worst fantasy football team this year. “I had elections going on this year and a 2 year old going on, so my fantasy football team fell short this year.”
Bell ended our interview, as he always does, thanking those that voted for him and said it is an “absolute honor to serve.”