TABOR CITY, NC (WECT) - North Carolina's longest serving state legislator has decided to retire.
R.C. Soles announced Wednesday that he will not run for re-election in 2010. The Columbus County Democrat has served in the NC Legislature since 1969 and in the State Senate since in 1977.
In the past year, Soles has been at the center of several recent controversies. The first started with an arson in July that destroyed a home that the 75-year-old Soles admittedly purchased for a 17-year-old Tabor City resident.
In August, District Attorney Rex Gore and the Tabor City Police Department asked the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation to look into claims made by former legal client Stacy Scott that Soles tried to molest him when he was a minor. Scott later recanted his story, but the investigation is ongoing.
A few weeks later police responded to a call from Soles' home when two men, Kyle Blackburn and B.J. Wright, tried to kick down his door. Soles shot Blackburn in the leg at his home during the incident. He claimed self-defense, but earlier this month a Columbus County Grand Jury recommended the North Carolina Attorney General's office seek an indictment against Soles.
In an exclusive interview with WECT's Bob Townsend Wednesday, Soles said his decision to retire had less to do with recent events and more to do with changes to the makeup of the Senate in Raleigh.
Soles was somewhat emotional when he listed his reasons for not seeking another two-year term. He said family, especially his elderly father, was a big part of his decision.
The changing landscape of the state legislature also played a role. A law firm in Tabor City he founded fifty years ago demands more of his time, and the expense of running another campaign played a role in his choice.
Soles said he has received nothing but support from his fellow lawmakers, including Governor Beverly Perdue. No one has told him not run, despite the possible legal troubles he could be facing for the molestation and shooting incidents.
Soles said he plans to serve the remainder of his term and continue his law practice, and will leave his legacy to others to determine.
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