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Rep. Henson won't seek re-election

State Rep. Cody Henson, who faces a stalking charge in a complaint brought by his estranged wife, announced Tuesday that he will not seek re-election next year.

Henson faced calls from Democrats to resign after a judge authorized a one-year restraining order that his wife had sought. He said he wanted to devote more time to his two young children and let someone else represent the 113th House District, which include Transylvania, Polk and southern Henderson counties.

"I believe this district will find another individual who is ready and able to fight for our mountain values and be a voice we need to make sure we do not go back to the days of Western North Carolina being left behind," he said. "I will stand ready to assist my successor in any way possible."

The race had already attracted potential interest by two Republicans from Polk County. Jake Johnson, chair of the Polk County Board of Commissioners, said he would look at the seat if Henson was not running. Gene Johnson, a 57-year-old attorney who practices in Henderson and Buncombe counties and lives in Polk, also was considering a run.

Here is the statement from Henson, a second-term Republican incumbent:

"I have said this many times but it truly has been the honor of my lifetime to serve you in the NC House for the past 2 terms. We have been able to accomplish many things since first being elected that will make our district and our great state even better places to live, work and do business. Since December 2015, I have promised to represent Transylvania, Polk and Southern Henderson Counties with the mountain values that were instilled in me early in life and that people from around the world come to our small corner of North Carolina to experience.

"As you all know I have two beautiful children that are growing up quicker than any parent would like. When I started this journey Bo was only 5 months old and Presley wasn’t even thought of. Now Bo is 3 and Presley is going on 8 months and I couldn’t be more blessed with them. With that said, I wanted to let you all know that I will not be seeking re-election in 2020. With Bo starting school soon I believe it is in the best interest of my children to step away from the political scene for now and be there during these exciting times in their lives.

"I believe this district will find another individual who is ready and able to fight for our mountain values and be a voice we need to make sure we do not go back to the days of WNC being left behind. I will stand ready to assist my successor in any way possible.

"Until then, I look forward to continuing to serve you for the remainder of this term and continue our work on school safety, addressing immigration, continued pay increases for our teachers and a host of other issues this General Assembly is addressing.

"Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for all the support you have shown me and my family over the years and the countless prayers on my behalf. It truly is an honor to be your voice in the NC House of Representatives."