He’s a local truck driver who loves God, country and his family. He will also be the new face on the Johnston County Board of Commissioners this Fall.
Larry Wood, 40, of Oliver’s Grove Road, Four Oaks upset DeVan Barbour IV for the District 4 commissioners seat on March 15th. Wood, a Republican, has no Democratic opposition in November and will take his seat in December.
Wood defeated Barbour IV, who was attempting to fill the seat being vacated by his father DeVan Barbour III, by more than 3,000 votes.
Wood is not your typical politician. A 1994 graduate of Triton High School in Harnett County, Wood grew up in Erwin. In 2002, when he married his wife, Carla, he moved to Four Oaks. The couple has four children, Easton age 5, Rylan age 8, Sydney age 10, and Jolie age12. His children attend Four Oaks Elementary and Middle Schools where he is active on the elementary PTA. He is also a civitan coach, and the Director of Youth at Burnell Baptist Church, where he makes sure the youth visit a nursing home at least once, if not twice, a month. “It’s important,” he says.
Wood previously owned a dump truck and car transport company. Now he’s a full-time truck driver for James River Equipment Company. He has been driving trucks for a total of 18 years.
When he’s not behind the wheel or spending time with his family, Wood says he loves to hunt. However, his favorite hunting dog died three weeks ago and admits it may take him a while to get back into the routine, or when Easton gets older. He also enjoys spending time at his children’s various sporting activities including soccer, swimming, volleyball, gymnastics and t-ball. “I go to as many games as possible.”
Never Expected To Win
Wood readily admits he didn’t expect to win the race, giving himself only about a 30 percent chance of a victory. It was also the first time he has ran for political office. “I admire anyone that will run for political office that will put themself out there for the challenge. No one has been able to move up in life without leading and pushing forward.”
“When I was growing up my Dad always stressed hard work and if you wanted something go after it. So I did.” Wood was the first to file for the District 4 seat not knowing at the time the incumbent commissioner would decide to retire and his son would be his opponent.
Low-Key Low Cost Campaign
Friends, neighbors and members of his church helped raise the $2,500 he used to buy political signs and run just one campaign ad. On election night, Wood said he spent time with his family, watched a little TV and was about to go to bed when a “buddy” called and asked him if he was following the returns. Wood, who said he hadn’t looked at any of the results until the phone call, went to his computer and saw 8 precincts had reported the vote totals and he was in the lead. It was a lead he would never give up. “If you want something go get it,” he said with a smile.
Wood said he was torn between filing for a vacancy on the county board of commissioners and the school board. “I feel strongly about being active in the schools and being active with my children. I came to a decision that more is better and filed as a commissioner. By playing a bigger role I hope to be able to accomplish more.”
“I believe in the Constitution, freedom, and promoting freedom,” Wood said when asked about his goals. “We should take advantage of every opportunity to promote our children and their future, whether it’s the education system, bringing attention to issues, being accountable. Own up to what you are a part of and what you want to do. Ideas are best put out in the daylight.”
Wood’s wife is a teacher’s assistant and says he knows many of the issues educators face in the classroom. “I hear and live with some of the obstacles she faces whether it be her pay, teacher issues, supplies, playgrounds.” He says his wife is supportive of his role as a commissioner.
Asked about any ideas or priorities he will have once he is sworn in as a commissioner Wood paused then said, “I haven’t drawn any bulleyes, but I have been around some of the problems that are related to schools and government. In a lot of ways the government is the problem and not the solution. For example, CSX. People didn’t get the facts and information. I believe in transparency. If the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was going, nothing will get done.”
When asked if he was in favor of the CSX project in Johnston County, Wood said if the terminal locates in Four Oaks he would likely lose his home, which would be in the path of the railroad. “I am all for jobs. We need more jobs and we need to do more to get jobs. But I do not support a private company being able to take private land. I do know without eminent domain the State and I-40 would be shaped like a doughnut dodging property. There are issues where it is unavoidable. But with a private company, I tend to draw the line there.”
Working With School Board
Wood says he closely watched the race between Commissioner Chairman Tony Braswell and School Board Chairman Larry Strickland who were running for the same NC House seat. Wood said he didn’t want to speculate if the race would cause any friction between the two boards but said he would like to see both boards have the same compassion as opponents to CSX and “use that same vigor to attack problems.”
“What if we had these people with all this compassion about the railroad holding meetings, making phone calls… What if we handled all the problems in Johnston County like that with the same vigor?”
Wood believes he will bring valuable insight to the county and hopes to work closely with the school board.
Wood promises to be very accessible to the public. “I will be just a phone call away.” He plans on introducing himself to area fire departments, schools and civic groups in the coming months. He hopes others will see his passion for family, children, church, schools, and seniors and his desire to share ideas and hear all sides of the story. “I enjoy comparing ideas, best practices and discussing how things work. I like getting my hands dirty and getting involved. But sometimes you have to step back and punt.”
“This is the peoples government. I like collaboration and transparency. People should always know what’s going on. This is the peoples land and we are the servants. I think people forget that sometimes when they get a name tag.”
“I think common sense, integrity and doing the right thing will take a man a long way. That doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes but you have to keep trying.”