NC governor appoints two Wake County Democrats as NC’s newest state lawmakers

James Roberson, left, and Sydney Batch
James Roberson, left, and Sydney Batch N&O file photos

Sydney Batch, who previously represented Wake County in the state House, is North Carolina’s newest state senator.

And Knightdale Mayor James Roberson is the newest member of the state House.

A group of Wake County Democratic Party members unanimously nominated Batch to fill a vacancy in Senate District 17 on Saturday morning. On Sunday afternoon, Democrats nominated Roberson to replace former Rep. Darren Jackson in House District 39 in eastern Wake, Jackson announced in a tweet Sunday.

And Gov. Roy Cooper appointed the pair Monday ahead of the legislative session that starts Wednesday, making their positions official.

Jackson previously served as the House minority leader but was appointed by Cooper to North Carolina’s Court of Appeals.

Roberson, senior dean of Instructional Support at Wake Technical Community College and chief campus officer of the Western Wake Campus, was elected to the Knightdale Town Council in 2007. He served two terms before he was elected as mayor in 2015 and 2019. His term was set to expire in 2023, according to the town’s website.

Former state Sen. Sam Searcy announced in late December he planned to resign from his Senate seat representing southern and western Wake County, saying he was pursuing another opportunity. He has not yet announced what he’ll do next, but said he will still be serving North Carolinians.

On his way out, Searcy endorsed former Rep. Batch, who lost her reelection bid in November. Batch has largely been seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party.

“People were sad when Sydney lost,” Searcy told The News & Observer last month. “She’s a good representative, and she’ll make a good senator.”

Batch, who lives in Holly Springs, was elected to North Carolina’s General Assembly in 2018, riding the “blue wave” and flipping a previously Republican-held district in suburban Wake County. District 37 flipped back to red in November, when Republican Erin Paré was elected.

Credit: News and Observer