It’s been a good month for Rep. Sarah Stevens.
After being re-elected to her fifth term in the N.C. General Assembly on Nov. 8, Stevens was nominated Monday as speaker pro tem — the second-highest position in the N.C. House of Representatives.
Stevens, a Republican serving the 90th District, was tapped for that role during a House caucus.
It involved members of the majority party meeting in Raleigh to nominate leaders for top positions in that legislative body — a process that occurs after each election.
Stevens is not aware of anyone from Surry County ever serving as speaker pro tem, and she also could be breaking new ground in terms of a female holding that position. “There may have been one,” she said.
Also Monday, Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) was unanimously chosen as the Republican nominee for his second term as speaker of the House of Representatives.
If her nomination is approved by the full House in January, which is expected, Stevens effectively will be its vice president.
“I am the temporary speaker anytime he (Moore) is gone,” the local representative said in explaining what her new role would entail. “I also will be involved in all the leadership meetings.”
As a member of the majority party, Stevens anticipates her nomination being approved by the House as a whole in early January when the next General Assembly session begins.
“Most of the time it is a formality,” Stevens, a longtime attorney in Mount Airy, said of that approval.
She would replace Rep. Paul Stam of Wake County as speaker pro tem. Stam held that post for four years and decided not to seek it again this year.
Stevens said the nomination occurred as a result of her expressing interest in the speaker pro tem position among fellow House members, as well as having other people suggest she would be good for the job — including Stam.
In the days leading up to Monday’s caucus, she called GOP House members to ask for their support.
Stevens was in the running for the nomination against Rep. Dean Arp of Monroe and Rep. Michael Speciale from Craven County.
Each was allotted three minutes Monday to convince House members why he or she was the best person for speaker pro tem.
Stevens stressed her 30-year legal background, experience as a mediator (“I think it’s important in bringing people together”) and her work in chairing several judicial committees, in which much key legislative work occurs.
Out of the 69 members who voted on the nomination, the Mount Airy lawmaker received 35 votes, Arp 28 and Speciale six.
“I am excited and I am relieved,” Stevens said of that outcome.
If she ultimately becomes speaker pro tem of the House, Stevens says she will not use the position to advance any legislative goals on her part.
“I don’t have any particular agenda, except to help all the others with their agendas,” Stevens said in describing kind of a coach function.
“Primarily, it’s to help freshmen get acclimated to become legislators — help them with their bills, help them with the process,” Stevens said of what it takes to accomplish things in the General Assembly.
“I want everyone else to be as effective as they can be.”
Yet Stevens acknowledged that becoming speaker pro tem could serve to benefit Surry County.
“I think we have and always have had a strong voice in Raleigh,” she said, “but this gives us an even stronger voice.”
Also Monday, the House Republican caucus elected Rep. John Bell (R-Wayne) to serve as its majority leader, Rep. Steven Ross (R-Alamance) as deputy majority leader, Rep. John Szoka (R-Cumberland) as conference chair, Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford) as majority whip, Rep.-Elect Destin Hall (R-Caldwell) as freshman leader and Rep.-Elect Brenden Jones (R-Bladen) as freshman whip.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.