State candidates stump in Haywood
Haywood Republicans liked what they heard Tuesday evening as six candidates in the July 17 GOP runoff election made their case during a candidate forum at the Haywood County Courthouse.
The event was organized by the Haywood County Republican Party.
The only race where the three dozen or so audience members could clearly contrast candidates was in the contest for the N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction, where candidates John Tedesco and Richard Alexander were both present. (See separate story Monday).
Mark Meadows, who’s vying for the U.S. 11th Congressional nomination, was the lone candidate present as challenger Vance Patterson was not present.
A runoff primary is allowed in North Carolina if no candidate on the ballot captures 40 percent of the vote. In the 11th Congressional District, Meadows received 37.83 percent of the vote, and Patterson got 23.61 percent.
In response to questions formulated by organizers and posed by Bev Elliott, Meadows drove home his platform message — limited government, lower taxes and a sound energy policy that will allow the use of America’s vast resources.
He described himself as a “strong second amendment rights guy” who’s an avid sportsman, a supporter of the current Congressional ban on earmarks and someone who will make sure constituent services are a priority in the district.
He would like to see Congress get serious about about tax reform using either a flat tax or the fair tax proposal that’s been put forth, and wants the corporate income tax dropped to 20 percent.
Meadows wants to give American business owners 20 months to invest the $1.25 trillion they have earned doing business outside the country to bring the money back to the United States and invest in businesses that will create jobs.
He lambasted the 87,000 pages of regulations listed in the federal register, a number he said the late President Ronald Reagan reduced to 47,000 pages. The number grew back to 87,000 pages one and a half years ago, he added, and its time to pare that number down again.
Dan Forest, the lone lieutenant governor candidate at the event, said he would take seriously the opportunity to be part of the State Board of Eduction meetings where he would would work on education reform that would “put power back in hands of the local communities and parents, increase competition and promote innovation, which is what will transform schools.”
Forest called himself a “free market economy kind of guy,” who believes regulations and taxation are killing business. Power not expressly given to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution is reserved for the states, and Forest said one of those is to enforce immigration laws in Naorth Carolina where 600,000 illegal immigrants are within the state’s borders.
As an independently elected state official, Forest said he would work with the governor to decide how both could best focus on their roles and responsibilities.
He wants to get government off the backs of business owners by decreasing business regulations and taxes. He said he would support eliminating the state income tax and wants to revamp taxation in the state to reduce the gas tax and create a small business tax bracket.
“We don’t have a revenue problem,” he said. “We have a spending problem.”
Forest, who captured 32.98 percent of the vote in the May primary, faces Tony Gurley, who came in second in the race with 24.83 percent of the vote.
The architect and businessman said America is where it is at today because of a leadership crisis.
“This is our generation’s 1776,” he said. “We are at a tipping point in America. Do we save our country or do we tip over into socialism or worse. That’s what’s on the line now.”
Secretary of State
Kenn Gardner, who ran second in the Secretary of State race with 29.82 percent of the vote to Ed Goodwin’s 35.94 percent, was the only candidate for the office who appeared at the Haywood forum.
Gardner said while the secretary of state’s office have often been called the “filing cabinet for the state documents, there’s an untapped potential for the office holder in engaging business and being voice of business at the General Assembly.
“Regulation and paperwork is killing busneses in North Carolina,” he said.
Though the regulations are not made by the Secretary of State, it is this office that’s responsible for carrying out the regulatory laws.
In response to a question about eliminating the state’s personal property tax, Gardner said the state is almost to the point where it needs to abandon the current tax system and come up with a model more in line with the new economy, an issue that has been on the General Assembly’s radar for some time now. Gardner expressed support for a fair system such as a flat tax.
Gardner said he didn’t agree with tax incentives to entice businesses to locate in North Carolina, but preferred to instead eliminate the corporate income tax, which would make the state attractive to industries.
The architect and county commissioner said the major thing that separates him from his opponent is that he’s stayed in North Carolina for the past three decades working on problems within the state. His opponent, he said. left the state and have returned to make things like they were.
“That’s not a plan. It’s a dream,” Gardner said. “My plan is to change the business climate in the state by reducing taxes, regulations and fees and focusing on 21st century jobs in ag research, high tech and medical.”
Gardner said he is “shovel ready” to be the next secretary of state.
While the event was sparsely attended, audience members responded enthusiastically to what they heard.
Lake Logan resident Paul Turner said the exchange was very informative, and said he was especially impressed with the passion he saw in some of the candidates.
"That's the kind of thing that doesn't come through when you look at their literature," he said.
Barbara Buck, who worked hours and hours on the committee to organize the event, said the outcome was well-worth the effort.
Waynesville resident Sam Edwards, a former GOP legislative candidate, said he saw a slate of serious candidates that won't be sacrificial lambs as has been the case in past years for some Republican candidates in the state.
"This is a talented group with good ideas who have thought about issues," he said.