Beaufort Mayor Everette “Rett” S. Newton says he has made clean water a priority while holding office since 2017 in the coastal Carteret County town.
Newton told Coastal Review Tuesday after announcing his run for the 2022 Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate that the environment will continue to be a pillar of his platform, along with protecting democracy and helping those facing hardship.
A retired U.S. Air Force colonel, Newton said that the rioting and violence that took place in the U.S. Capitol building and surrounding area in Washington, D.C. Jan. 6 is his motivation to run. “I just can’t sit on the sidelines while our democracy is under attack,” he said.
During his career as an Air Force officer, he responded to multiple crises, both abroad and at home on 9/11. “After what I saw on January 6th, 2021, it’s clear that what our country needs right now are leaders who put service over self and country over party,” said Newton in a statement. “Our country is in crisis and we need leaders in Washington who will protect our democracy, our jobs, our environment, and help those who are struggling to get food, affordable housing, and accessible health care. As North Carolina’s next U.S. Senator, I will work tirelessly every day to get things done on behalf of the people of our state and nation.”
In addition to serving as mayor, Newton is working toward a doctorate in marine science and conservation at Duke University. His campaign stated that he had seen firsthand the effects of climate change and worked diligently to conserve North Carolina’s coastal ecosystem.
Newton filed Thursday his paperwork with the Federal Election Commission. He hosted an announcement in Beaufort Monday with a video, “Defend my Country,” launching his candidacy.
“I am the environmental candidate and I just want to continue our work to protect our environment,” he said.
Newton told Coastal Review that environmental protection is good not only for public health but also for commerce, “because people want to come to a clean water coastal community. People want to live, work and play in a clean water coastal community.”
Newton received his bachelor’s in mathematics from Campbell University, a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology and a master’s from American Military University. He served in the Air Force for 28 years in roles that encompassed electronic warfare engineering, F-15E Strike Eagle leadership and assignments as an Arabic foreign area officer. During his military career, he responded to crises including flying combat air patrols to protect Washington, D.C., following 9/11, and assisting the large-scale disaster relief effort following the 2004 tsunami in South Asia.
Newton cited his involvement as mayor in projects following Hurricane Florence to remove derelict vessels and other marine debris from Beaufort waters. More recently, the town has embarked on major public works projects geared to reduce pollution.
“We’ve also worked very closely with the University of North Carolina, specifically Dr. Rachel Noble, to measure the toxins in our waterways. As we conduct this massive infrastructure project across our community, I fully expect that we will show that we have reduced those toxins, primarily from stormwater runoff,” he said.
Newton said he also wants to help residents recover.
“We have at least 400 families in Carteret County that have not fully responded to Hurricane Florence. We know that we have a food insecurity rate and in Carteret County, it is reported to be at 14%, which means thousands of families are without routine access to food. We have to help people escape this socioeconomic divide,” he said.