Amid considerable speculation about his future, four-term state lawmaker Sen. Bill Cook, the District 1 Republican who represents Dare County, announced on Tuesday Aug. 29 that he will not seek re-election in 2018.
In a statement released by Cook’s office, he said, “I am very proud that with the help of my fellow legislators, we now have the lowest taxes in the Southeast, regulation is under control and teacher pay is greatly improved. I am proud of my work in promoting our oyster industry, keeping our inlets open and defending our fishermen. I am most proud of starting a new industry in North Carolina – deep water fish farming – an industry that will greatly benefit our economy.”
“I’ve tried to be a good servant to the people of Eastern North Carolina,” Cook, 72, added. “However, the recent redistricting changes have prompted me to reevaluate my commitment to my family. And as much as I love the folks of Eastern North Carolina, I love my family more. I have decided to not seek another term in the State Senate.”
Should the newly redrawn state senate districts be approved by the federal courts, Cook’s home county of Beaufort would be moved to another district and he would no longer represent Dare County had he sought re-election.
Republican District 1 House Member Bob Steinburg has already said he will run for the new state senate seat representing Dare County next year if that proposed district passes muster.
A staunch conservative, Cook’s positions on issues such as the sales tax redistribution and the repeal of Dare County’s plastic bag ban have sometimes had him at odds with local leadership in the county. Asked earlier this year to characterize the relationship between Cook and the Dare County Commissioners, top aide Jordan Hennessy described it as “all right.”
First elected to the N.C. House of Representatives in 2010, Cook represented the 6th District, which included Beaufort County and a portion of Pitt County. In 2012, Cook was then elected to the state senate, representing Beaufort, Hyde, Dare, Currituck, Camden, Gates, Pasquotank and Perquimans counties. Cook ousted Democratic incumbents in both 2010 and 2012 elections.
In that 2012 state senate race, he defeated Stan White by a razor thin 21 votes and then won more handily in a 2014 rematch. Last November, he easily defeated Democratic challenger and former newspaper publisher Brownie Futrell by more than 16,000 votes.
Since 2015, Cook has served as co-chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Natural and Economic Resources as well as the Senate Agriculture, Natural and Economic Resources Committee.
In the statement from Cook’s office, North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger said that, “From championing a new marine aquaculture industry to helping ensure safe access to channels along the Outer Banks, Bill has advanced important priorities for the people of his district. We’ll miss Bill’s warm,accessible and affable presence in the Senate and wish him all the best in his retirement.”