Rep. Ray Rapp redefined public service

Nov 08, 2012

For Haywood County residents who had issues reaching to Raleigh, Rep. Ray Rapp has consistently been a go-to guy.

In the past decade, Rapp has served the 118th House District, which has traditionally included most of Haywood County. During his initial campaign, Rapp was a frequent visitor to Haywood where he spent time introducing himself to many in the county, not to tell them what he wanted to do if elected, but to ask what was going on and listen carefully to the answers.

After he was first elected, Rapp helped spearhead a “listening tour” for freshman legislators of both parties. He reasoned that the newcomers needed to know about all areas of the state, and as much as he wanted to learn about the Piedmont and Coastal areas of North Carolina, he wanted his colleagues to know about issues in the mountain region.

When not in Raleigh, Rapp spent endless hours attending events in the district -— something evident in his monthly “Raleigh Report.” Rapp’s newsletters were a departure from the press releases sent out by others. They included issues raised by constituents, information about committees he chaired or special legislative efforts he worked on. They also mentioned the many people who visited him in Raleigh or discussed the accomplishments of individuals or groups he’d visited that month.

Rapp was a familiar sight at sporting events, special recognitions, ceremonies or pretty much anything that represented a milestone within the county that needed to be celebrated.

After state troopers Calvin Taylor and Anthony Cogdill were killed in Haywood County, Rapp worked to pass the “move over” law requiring motorists to either slow down or move over if a law enforcement vehicle was stopped along the roadway. The law was later expanded to include all emergency and public utility vehicles.

He worked tirelessly to support public education at all levels, was one of those responsible for helping bring state flood relief funding to the mountain region following the devastating floods of 2004 and fought vehemently against what he termed “state-sanctioned gambling.”  This not only includes the video sweepstakes poker industry, but the state education lottery, a stance that required bucking members of his own Democratic party who pushed the measure through.

Rep. Ray Rapp set a new model when it came to defining the meaning of the words “public service.” His example is one worth emulating. Thanks, Ray, for your accomplishments, your service, and most of all, the path you’ve followed that illustrates public service is an honorable mission.