Local News

Former Commissioner's Daughter Plans To Run For Agriculture Post

Posted June 5, 2003 11:53 a.m. EDT

— Alice Graham Underhill, the daughter of former Ag Commissioner Jim Graham, announced Thursday she plans to run for state Agriculture Commissioner in the next election.

Underhill said she will seek the Democratic nomination for the job now held by Meg Scott Phipps.

"Let me get one thing over right away, my campaign is not about Commissioner Phipps. It's about consumers, farmers, the environment and economic growth for our state," she said.

Alice Graham Underhill, 57, a New Bern lawyer, has served a term in the state House of Representatives. Underhill also called her father one of her political mentors.

"This is about my vision of where we need to go next," she said. "He did a great job, but I have new ideas."

Underhill said she wants to find ways to clean up the state's hog waste systems, clean up the state fair's selection process and run a clean campaign.

"I will not accept contributions from anyone with the companies who have bid or could bid on the state fair," she said.

Underhill does not have any prior farming experience and she has close ties with the Strates family, who lost the midway contract at the state fair after Phipps decided to go with a different midway operator.

Phipps, the daughter of a former governor, has refused a call by Gov. Mike Easley to resign because of a federal investigation into her campaign finances.

Two of Phipps' former aides have pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud charges and investigators still are looking into the case, but Phipps has said she will seek a second term.

During her term in the legislature, Underhill was a member of the House Agriculture Committee. She was vice chair of the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee, and served on several other committees and subcommittees.

Underhill holds bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a law degree from Campbell University. She is married to Dr. Reed Underhill and they have three grown children.