Carolina Journal News Reports
RALEIGH – Three candidates are battling in the Republican primary for the right to hold a seat in the General Assembly once held by the late Sen. Jim Forrester.
The three are Chris Carney, David Curtis, and Karen Ray.
Carney, a former mayor pro-tem of Morrisville, was appointed to fill Forrester’s seat in December after Forrester died. Carney has spent time in the banking and lending industry. In 2006, he started a title insurance company.
Curtis also sought appointment to fill the seat left vacant by Forrester’s death, but lost out to Carney back in December. Curtis, an optometrist, practices in Denver. He sought a Lincoln County school board seat 15 years ago.
Ray, a Mooresville resident, served three terms in the N.C. House. She is a former Iredell County commissioner. Ray owns BSCI Inc., which makes padding and safety equipment for the motorsports industry.
The newly drawn 44th House District is a solid GOP district. The majority of voters in the district — 56 percent — reside in Iredell County, with 39 percent living in Lincoln County and the remaining 5 percent living in Gaston County.
When you talk to the candidates about the top issues in the 2012 campaign, it doesn’t take long for them to mention jobs and the economy.
Carney said that he appreciates what last year’s General Assembly accomplished in regulatory reform, but he says that more needs to be done. He said that government regulations, in particular environmental regulations, are impediments to companies looking to move to the state.
“One of their big issues is they want to be able to relocate quickly,” Carney said. “They can only relocate quickly if we remove those barriers.” He said delays in getting regulatory approval appear to be the culprit. “In reality, Raleigh is most of the time an obstacle,” Carney said.
Ray said that the General Assembly will likely look at an array of options in an attempt to help get the economy moving and spur job growth. Options likely to be on the table include restructuring the tax code and reforming the regulatory environment, she said.
“Our state does not encourage retirees to stay here,” Ray said, citing the state’s tax structure. “Retirees will go to other states to retire.”
While she says she is not a proponent of taxing services, she points out that changing the tax code to include a sales tax on services has been on the table in Raleigh for a while.
“I’ve got that institutional knowledge that I think will be beneficial,” Ray said. “I’m a business person and I think I can be a benefit to people in the district to try to get the economy going again.”
Curtis agreed that taxes and regulations need to be reduced. “The way to get jobs in this state is to lower taxes and to lower regulations,” Curtis said, adding that he believes the state’s corporate and personal income tax rates are too high.
Speaking of companies trying to decide where to build a plant, Curtis said, “When they look at North Carolina and look at how high our corporate tax is and how high our personal tax is, they say, why should we put a plant there. … Having high taxes is a disincentive to coming to North Carolina.”
Curtis said he has a “Christian world view” and would defend family values. “We were founded on the Judeo-Christian ethics,” Curtis said. “That's under attack everywhere.”
Carney said that he wants to change the way dollars are allocated for transportation projects. “It should be based on congestion and potential job development,” Carney said, adding that he believes it currently is too-often politically driven.
Carney also said that he wants to give local schools more flexibility and control of public schools. “The Department of Public Instruction is certainly an obstacle to that,” he said.
Carney said that he planned to serve no more than eight years in the Senate seat. “Raleigh is not a retirement program,” he said.
The GOP primary winner will face Democrat Ross Bulla of Denver in the November general election.
Barry Smith is a contributor to Carolina Journal.