Former Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran has announced her intentions to seek the office of lieutenant governor in the 2020 election.
Cochran, a business teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Winston-Salem, said she has been encouraged by several of her colleagues to run for the post. While well-known in Mount Airy because of her more than 30-year-career as a local radio personality, as well as her time in local office, Cochran said she knows running for the statewide post will be a challenge.
“John F. Kennedy said every accomplishment starts with the decision to try, and that’s what I’ve decided to do, to try,” she said. “I love North Carolina and its passionate people, I’ve lived in Mount Airy and…in this wonderful state my entire life.”
The former city mayor said she has three priorities she would want to pursue as lieutenant governor.
“Economic development and job creation,” she said. “People need a vision and a purpose. Education — young people will lead and transform the future, education is the biggest indicator of where our country is headed. Our students must be career and college ready.
“And mental health issues and substance abuse. There are too many people dying and hurting…my brother, this week, walked out of his house and next door he saw a neighbor lying on the ground, he’d just been stabbed to death…I believe substance abuse and mental health issues played a role in that.”
Cochran said she had been approached by a colleague at John F. Kennedy with the idea of making a run for the second highest office in North Carolina.
“I didn’t think much about it,” she said.
That changed when more of her coworkers approached her with the same idea. One even told Cochran she plans to start a Dems4Deb group.
“She’s a Democrat, but she knows I want to support all people,” said Cochran, a long-time Republican.
With the primary for the GOP nomination for the seat nearly two years away, it appears the Mount Airy resident may have gotten a jump on the field, being the first to announce her intentions.
The seat is held by Republican Dan Forest, but as a two-time lieutenant governor, he is prevented by state law from seeking the seat again.
Cochran served as Mount Airy mayor from 2009-2015, twice winning the seat before resigning in the middle of her second term. Prior to that she had served as a city commissioner for two years.
In addition to work on the commission and as mayor, Cochran was a local radio personality on WSYD for 35 years, and was a part-time aerobics instructor at Surry Community College for 18 of those years.
Cochran said her political and education background make her uniquely qualified for the post. The lieutenant governor presides over the state senate, casting a vote on deadlocked measures, serves on the state board of education and on the statewide community college board.
“I’ve presided over government meetings, I’ve worked 18 years as a part time instructor at the community college, I’m going into year four as a teacher.”
Cochran said she’s already been encouraged since making her announcement.
“The outpouring of support from teachers all over the state, my classmates at N.C. State, Salvation Army church members, my radio broadcasting connections, family and friends, is quite overwhelming.”
Cochran said she will be setting up her campaign, filing necessary paperwork with elections officials and getting her campaign squared away over the next week or so. She does plan to teach next year, but said she may take the year after that off in order to campaign full time.