RALEIGH, N.C. (WAVY) — 10 On Your Side is taking out the TRUTH TRACKER on political ads in a North Carolina race. 

Democrat Incumbent Representative Howard Hunter is seeking re-election in the North Carolina District 5 State House Race. He’s facing Republican Challenger Bill Ward who is a former Sheriff’s Deputy. 

Ward has put on air two ads against State Rep. Hunter which we are now Truth Tracking.  

This is a very tight race with the district made up of Hertford, Gates, Pasquotank and the newly added Camden County. 

The district leans Republican, but in 2020, both President Trump and now President Joe Biden got 45% of the vote.  

North Carolina is still behind Virginia in the reporting of financial contributions in political races, so the current numbers available are outdated, and the next filing won’t be until November 1. 

“Hungry Howie Hunter guzzling gas on your dime,” Ward’s ad begins.  

10 On Your Side sat down with Howard Hunter and asked him whether he is “Hungry Howie Hunter” as the ad stated.  

“I assume I am. I think it is petty,” said the Incumbent North Carolina representative calling his opponent’s ad misleading.  

“Gas prices are through the roof, working families are running on empty and Howard Hunter wants you to pay more for his gas,” the ad continued. “Hungry Howie Hunter co-sponsored legislation to score cheap gas for Maserati driving politicians like him” 

The source for the claim is House Bill 122 (2021-2022)

It is TRUE Hunter supported House Bill 122 which died in Committee, but would have raised the reimbursement rates per mile for legislators to travel to North Carolina’s General Assembly in Raleigh. 

“It is still sitting in committee.” 10 On Your Side asked him if the bill had come to the floor, would he have voted for it?

Hunter’s quick one-word answer,  “Yes.” 

10 On Your Side asked if the cartoon image of him in his red Maserati sends a false impression.  

“It does, yes,” he replied. 

It is TRUE Hunter owns a Maserati, but it is also TRUE he would be reimbursed the same amount whether driving a Maserati or another car. He and other legislators are paid by the mile, they are NOT reimbursed for gas. They do receive a daily stipend to cover all expenses at about $100 a day, according to Hunter.  

“If everyone else is having to suffer through this gas shortage, he is a target or perceived as someone who is getting special privilege,” said his challenger, Republican Bill Ward.  

“Howard Hunter loves taxes. He backed higher taxes on groceries. Taxes on clothes. Taxes on cars. Taxes on furniture, and taxes on lumber to make it,” stated the next Bill Ward commercial.    

The source for that statement is Hertford County Budget 2010

It is TRUE that 12 years ago as a Hertford County Commissioner, Hunter supported a referendum to raise taxes. 

“This is 12 years ago for a budget bill for our county, and the only way the county can provide services is to raise taxes,” said Hunter. 

What Ward’s ad doesn’t say is that Hunter’s constituents voted for the same tax increase by an 11-1 margin (1,106 for and 161 against.) 

“Howard Hunter loves everything about taxes except paying them. Hunter failed to pay his taxes on time over 100 times,” the commercial continues. 

“I was late over a 100 times,” Hunter told 10 On Your Side. [But] who hasn’t been late? They [were still] paid.” 

10 On your Side went to the Hertford County Tax Office and the office confirms that “the previous year(s) taxes for property in Hertford County owned by Representative Howard Hunter, III have been paid in full with no outstanding balances.” 

10 On Your Side gave Hunter the opportunity to explain why he was late. 

“I am the only one to write checks here. And I am not here all the time. I forget like everybody else does.” 

Hunter owns a Funeral Home business, and the taxes involved some of those properties and assets. 

Hunter’s not running TV commercials, but direct mail pieces have been sent out by independent organizations, 

“Bill Ward doesn’t trust women,” one of them reads. Hunter and his supporters call Ward’s position extreme. 

It is TRUE Ward supports abortion ONLY when the mother’s life is at risk. 

So what about those women who want to have an abortion? 

“So, that child is not their body,” said Ward. “They are only a vessel carying the child.” 

The mailer paid for by Alliance for Balanced Government claims that in one year in North Carolina , 44 girls between 12 and 14 had abortions. The mailer then states that Bill Ward would make them criminals. 

Truth Tracker finds that claim against Ward FALSE.  

“I am not saying I would make them criminals,” said Ward. “What I’m saying is there are other alternatives to abortion, and those crisis centers would be helpful in counseling these individuals as opposed to going to Planned Parenthood.” 

“Our area has been depressed for a long time and basically, we are not getting our fair share of the monies that are sent to the treasuries of North Carolina,” said Ward on why he’s running. 

10 On Your Side asked Ward whether he thinks the commercials are “souped “ up to make Hunter look silly. 

“I agree they are, YES, I’d say they are souped up a little bit, but they are to make people aware of his position.” 

Hunter says this is the toughest campaign he’s ever faced.  

“I have never had this much dirt slung in a campaign. I have never had this much money spent by the Republican party against me considering I vote with them a majority of the time to help eastern North Carolina. Working together works.” 

10 On Your Side asked Bill Ward about Hunter working with Republicans.  

“Yes, he does vote for good common-sense issues, but when it comes to the governor override, he will not override the veto, and go against the Democratic governor.” 

 As for Howard Hunter, what’s important to him? 

“I’ve been fighting for Medicaid expansion, women’s rights, broadband expansion, better infrastructure, water and sewer improvements, and better roads since day one.” 

We asked Bill Ward what he wanted the voters to know about him.

“I am a Christian conservative, and I believe we should continue to strive for conservative values, and when I get in the legislature, I will not abandon my conservative values, and I believe our conservative values are good for all people.”