Sen. Nesbitt dies at age 67

From the Buncombe County Democratic Party:

Today a pallor has fallen over Western North Carolina as we mourn the passing of Buncombe County’s favorite son, Martin Nesbitt.  Many came together late Wednesday to welcome home NC Senator Martin Nesbitt (D) after announcement of illness and his decision to step down from Senate leadership. Sadly we learned just last night that our good friend and champion for Western North Carolina has passed away.

Serving since 1979, Nesbitt became an iconic voice for mountain Democratic populism and was a champion for mental health, education, and the working poor. Sen. Nesbitt will be missed by all who knew and worked with him. Listing his tenure of accomplishments would be impossible but, for example, he enabled Buncombe County to implement a special funding stream for capital improvements for schools that will have a lasting impact on our community.  He was instrumental in bringing the NC Arboretum and WNC Ag center to Buncombe County.  His leadership brought North Carolina the 2002 Clean Smokestacks bill forcing power plants to cut down on toxic emissions.  Senator Nesbitt fought for better access to the ballot box including implementing early voting, pre-registration, and same day voter registration. He believed in protecting the right to vote for all members of our community and in everything he did his major charge was to look out for the average everyday person.

On behalf of the officers all of the Buncombe County Democratic Party, we ask everyone to keep his family in your thoughts and prayers and we will send additional information as it becomes available.

From Governor McCrory’s Office

Governor Pat McCrory has ordered all North Carolina state flags on state facilities to be lowered to half staff in honor of Senator Martin Nesbitt of Buncombe County, who passed this evening.

“Sen. Nesbitt was a dedicated public servant to the State of North Carolina,” Governor McCrory said. “He was a true professional in everything that he did. We join his family in mourning his loss.”

Sen. Nesbitt represented District 49 and served as Senate minority leader from 2011-2014. He served five terms in the N.C. Senate, and more than 11 terms in the N.C. House of Representatives.

Statement From Senator Kay Hagan

“For thirty years, Martin Nesbitt has served the people of Buncombe County in the General Assembly with extraordinary dedication, and North Carolina has lost a great leader. Martin was a fierce defender of his values, a champion for mental health, and a strong advocate for North Carolina’s children and public education system. An avid racing fan, Martin helped organize the General Assembly’s ‘Pit Crew Challenge,’ and I always enjoyed being part of his team when I served in the State Senate. I am honored to call Martin a colleague and friend, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.”

From the Asheville Citizen-Times

N.C. Sen. Martin Nesbitt, a longtime Buncombe County legislator often described as a mountain populist and respected regardless of political party, died Thursday. He was 67. Read more.

From Carolina Public Press

State Sen. Martin Nesbitt, a mainstay in the Democratic Party and longtime representative of Buncombe County, died Thursday after battling stomach cancer. He was 67 years old. As the news spread, so did remembrances, photos, thoughts and reactions — from across the political spectrum. Read more.


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About Carrie Eidson
Multimedia journalist and Green Scene editor at Mountain Xpress. Part-time Twitterer @mxenv but also reachable at Follow me @carrieeidson

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