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Cornelius News

NC House District 98 election will feature Davidson, Huntersville candidates

April 23. By Dave Vieser. NC House District 98 encompasses virtually all of Cornelius, yet barring an unanticipated write-in campaign this fall, the winner in November’s House 98 election will not be a Cornelius resident.

The candidates are Republican Melinda  Bales of Huntersville and Democrat Beth Helfrich of Davidson. Cornelius has roughly twice the  population of Davidson. How did this all happen?


The incumbent representative in District 98 is Republican John Bradford. However, in April 2023, the Cornelius resident, a former Town commissioner, decided it was time to move on, announcing he would run for state treasurer, leaving his seat in the House of Representatives wide open. At the time, he said that his experience as senior chair of the House Finance Committee “will serve me well while overseeing the financial operations of North Carolina’s state government.”

With Bradford not running for House 98, new candidates for House 98 came from both parties.

Republicans selected Melinda Bales, a former Huntersville mayor and commissioner. There was no GOP opposition so no primary was needed in March of this year. It was a different story on the Democratic side. The party had two candidates, which resulted in a primary, won handily by Helfrich by a two to one margin over Lisa Jewell.

John Bradford

Ironically, Bradford soon redirected his political goals, this time dropping the run for state treasurer and instead running unsuccessfully for US House of Representatives in District 8. On Election Night, after it became clear he was going to come in third during a nasty primary, he said “the primary election did not turn out the way we had hoped. For now, I will get ready for the legislative short session to wrap up my eight years of service in the NC House of Representatives.”

By the numbers

If analysts take the number of voters who chose John Bradford in his last 2022 election (18,080) vs. the number of Democrats who voted in the recent primary (6,098), Republicans would seem to have a distinct advantage. However, primaries do not usually attract a large number of voters and 2024 will be a Presidential year, usually suggesting a larger turnout for Democrats. So a direct line-by-line comparison may not be useful in this instance.

Candidates have differences

We asked each candidate to discuss the most important  issues voters face  in House District 98. Their responses, listed below, suggest that voters will have a clear choice between the two candidates:

Melinda Bales | Republican

Bales has lived in Huntersville for 24 years and has 12 years of combined experience on the Huntersville Town Board and as  mayor. She marks her major achievements in office as working with state transportation officials on the Gilead Road intersection improvements, coordinating with CATS to launch a microtransit pilot program for North Mecklenburg, and convincing CMS to include several new schools on the 2023 school bond package. Bales, 53, lives in Huntersville with her husband John, and two children ages 21 and 23.

Melinda Bales


1. Transportation/Infrastructure: it will be critical to ensure continued funding for transportation improvements within Lake Norman. We will need to address not only road widening s but we must look at all modes of transportation throughout the region. I am looking forward to working with the state DOT to ensure that our projects stay in the pipeline and area fully funded.

2. Job Creation: we must continue to bring job opportunities to the district. This will help the local municipalities to shift the tax burden from individual property owners and help grow a diverse business community that will provide more job opportunities. I believe that the continued focus on a diversified business sector for the district will improve our quality of life.

3. Affordable Housing: This is not a problem unique to Lake Norman but it is an issue we need to get our arms around. Government should be working with the private sectors to create solutions that will provide relief. I plan to work with the public and private sectors to create solutions to address this issue statewide.

Beth Helfrich | Democrat

Beth Helfrich

Helfrich is a third-generation Davidson resident, as well as a graduate of Davidson College. She is focusing her campaign on  gerrymandered maps and voter suppression. She strongly supports the state fully funding public education and expanding support for early childhood education. Helfrich, 43, lives in Davidson with her husband Tim and their five children, ages 3-15.


1. Reproductive care and freedom: Everyone should have the ability to make decisions about their own reproductive lives and futures. District 98 voters are angry about the abortion ban passed in North Carolina last year and are highly concerned about the potential for further restrictions to reproductive care.

2. Growth, housing, and transportation: This policy bucket is one that people who live in District 98 encounter every day. District 98 is growing rapidly and will continue to do so. Our municipal governments deserve state laws and resources that support intentional planning. We need transportation solutions; expanded public works, childcare, and housing options; and indoor and outdoor spaces that are safe and healthy.

3. Public schools: It’s clear to me that folks in District 98 value our public schools and the students, faculty, and staff working inside them. Our state legislature needs to do its part, too; it’s unacceptable that North Carolina ranks last in state-level school funding effort. Our public schools are delivering for our kids every day and deserve adequate resources and professional respect from our state government.