Republican Stanly County Commissioner Gene McIntyre and Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin, a Democrat, will compete for the North Carolina Senate seat long occupied by seven-term incumbent Bill Purcell, D-Scotland County, one of 11 state senators and six Democrats not seeking re-election.
Republicans hold a 31-19 lead in the General Assembly’s upper house.
District 25 includes the southwestern Piedmont counties of Anson, Richmond, Rowan, Scotland, and Stanly.
Analysts from the nonpartisan N.C. Free Enterprise Foundation say redistricting in 2011 added more conservative voters to the district. Even though Democrats outnumber Republicans 49 percent to 29.9 percent in voter registration, with 21 percent unaffiliated, NCFEF classifies the 25th as a swing district. The district is 72 percent white, 24 percent black.
A retired educator, McIntyre’s professional experience includes 33 years as a teacher, coach, assistant principal at South Stanly and North Stanly high schools, and as principal at Richfield Elementary School.
He is in his fourth term as a Stanly County commissioner.
“I think my opponent and I want the same things for North Carolina. Where we differ is how we accomplish our goals. Be aware of words like ‘allocate more resources, restore funding, stop the cuts, expand, invest.’ These words mean higher taxes and more spending. That is not my agenda that is the liberal agenda,” McIntyre said.
He described himself as “a fiscal conservative” who would support legislation to cut taxes and reduce spending.
“Government has to live within its means,” McIntyre said. “We must prioritize and manage tax dollars. I will give District 25 the strong conservative voice for the efficient and effective government it deserves.”
He said he has a record of leadership and smart management.
“I have years of business experience,” McIntyre said, “the business of managing tax dollars, the business of taking care of school children and the business of managing school budgets.”
He said he is pro-life and believes in protecting citizens’ rights under the Constitution.
“I am proud to say I have received endorsements from the N.C. Right to Life Political Action Committee, and the [National Rifle Association],” he said.
McIntyre said jobs are a major plank in his platform.
“The counties in District 25 have had double-digit unemployment for years. We have to put people back to work,” he said.
In 2011-12, he noted, legislators introduced various bills to reduce regulations on business and fund economic development for job creation. Tax reforms and exemptions were made to help the private sector create new jobs.
“We must go forward with lower taxes and removing costly, outdated regulations to make it easier to start up and grow small business,” McIntyre said. “We need a common sense approach; smaller more efficient government.”
McIntyre said North Carolina should reduce the corporate income tax rate, rather than provide tax incentives and cash payments to a limited number of corporations.
McLaurin also touts pro-business credentials, but promises a different approach than McIntyre’s.
The mayor of Rockingham since 1997, McLaurin vows to bring a “real life” business perspective to Raleigh if District 25 voters choose him over the Republican challenger next month.
A self-described supporter of free enterprise, McLaurin’s 33 years’ experience in business includes working as the general manager of TOTAL Lubricants in Rockingham and serving as president and chief executive officer at Swink-Quality Oil Company in Rockingham and Laurinburg since 2007.
“Citizens in Senate District 25 should choose me because of my experience,” McLaurin told Carolina Journal. “I am a proven leader with a record of success in the private sector as a businessman for over 30 years and in the public sector as mayor of Rockingham for the past 15 years. We need more businesspeople in Raleigh.”
McLaurin identifies job creation and economic growth as key areas he’ll work to improve if voters choose him to represent the 25th District.
McLaurin outlined his three-point plan for creating jobs:
· Made in N.C. incentives: “I will support tax credits to businesses who manufacture products in North Carolina and hire North Carolina workers.”
· North Carolina first: “North Carolina businesses should have first crack at more than $3 billion in state contracts and services.”
· Workforce training investments: “I will work to strengthen the link between our community colleges and businesses, so companies have access to a highly trained workforce and students can get the skills they need to find a good job.”
McLaurin emphasized the need to find ways to save money in state government and ensure tax dollars are spent wisely.
McLaurin said as president/CEO of a small business with 30 employees, he has had to meet a payroll each week and has created jobs in the private sector.
“As mayor, I know how to be a good steward of taxpayer dollars because I have lowered tax rates and balanced budgets. I am an independent thinker and will reach across party lines to offer a common sense and common values approach to building consensus and solving the problems facing North Carolina,” McLaurin said.
McLaurin said his record as mayor of Rockingham illustrates his willingness to work with businesses to help them expand their operations, and the state Chamber of Commerce endorsed him.
“I have been on the front lines in our community with a combination of private and public sector experience,” he said. “I helped bring NASCAR back to Rockingham Speedway. I have helped local industries expand and create jobs by providing the infrastructure they need, and I have worked with other community partners to build a Discovery Place KIDS children’s museum in our downtown.”
“These savings will be used to improve education in North Carolina, because good jobs depend on good schools,” he said. “I will also be an advocate for more openness and transparency in budgeting and spending North Carolina tax dollars.”
As of the end of the second quarter, McIntyre’s campaign reported having $2,766.75 on hand. McLaurin had $21,449.83 on hand, according to the N.C. Board of Elections.
Kristy Bailey is a contributor to Carolina Journal.