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Hunter fundraiser initially spurred health concerns

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Candice Hunter

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By Peter Williams
The Perquimans Weekly

Saturday, February 10, 2018

HERTFORD — A chili cook-off fundraiser for a state legislative candidate will go on, but Perquimans County health officials say they did have some initial concerns about it.

Candice Hunter, a Republican who plans to file for the open seat in N.C. House District 1, said she was advised on Thursday of a potential problem with the fundraiser she’s planning to hold Saturday, Feb. 17, at The Crawfish Shack on Swing Gate Road outside of Hertford.

John Morgan, an employee of Albemarle Regional Health Services who is based at the Perquimans County Health Department, informed Hunter of two potential issues with the fundraiser. One was that chili for the fundraiser was scheduled to be prepared off site and brought to the The Crawfish Shack and served to the public. The other issue centered on whether the public would be charged to attend the event.

Hunter said the language in her advertising for the fundraiser clearly indicates attendees are not being charged to attend. The ads recommend donations of $25 at the “Attend Level.”

“It is just that, a recommended donation,” Hunter said. “I don’t like the fact candidates have to raise money any more than anyone else, but I did not make those rules. We all know the definition of a donation.”

“It is just that, a recommended donation,” Hunter said. “I don't like the fact candidates have to raise money any more than anyone else, but I did not make those rules. We all know the definition of a donation.”

The Crawfish Shack on Swing Gate Road routinely rents outs its facilities for fundraisers and events. The College of The Albemarle Foundation held a fundraiser at the facility in October that included a catered meal.

Morgan said the Crawfish Shack’s kitchen has been approved by the health department and if the chili for Hunter’s fundraiser was going to be prepared there, the event wouldn’t have raised any public health concerns. Because the chili for Hunter’s event is going to be prepared off-site, however, health officials wanted to make sure public health rules would be followed. 

“Her fundraiser presented a complicated way of serving food to the public,” Morgan said. “She was asking people to bring chili from home, an unapproved food source. Moving forward we decided they could do it legally.”

Morgan said the health rules that govern food service at private venues like The Crawfish Shack are designed “to protect the public’s health and protect the owners.” The rules don’t apply to churches and civic groups, he noted.

Hunter said the last thing she wanted to do was create a problem for The Crawfish Shack.

“I said, ‘Look if there is a problem with the path we’re going on, I will cancel the damn thing right now,’” she said.

Morgan said the issue of Hunter’s fundraiser came up during a meeting of regional health officials. He said after he mentioned that The Crawfish Shack was a nice place, one of his fellow health officials pulled the facility’s website up on the internet. The discussion about Hunter’s fundraiser started after officials saw the chili cook-off fundraiser being advertised on the site, he said.

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