Since this is my final newsletter and legislative update for this year, I begin by reflecting on remarks I made when I was sworn in to office as your state senator almost one year ago, on Jan. 4, 2013. I promised you I would use whatever God given abilities I have to serve you and our great state of North Carolina. I stressed I would be a strong voice for our rural area of the state and that I would reach across party lines to build consensus to solve our problems. My top priorities would be to help our communities recover from this recession and create jobs, improve educational opportunities for our citizens, and help those among us who truly need our assistance through no fault of their own. I promised I would be a good steward of your hard earned taxpayer dollars and I would promote openness and transparency in how your tax dollars are spent. Finally and most importantly, I asked for your prayers. As we close the chapter on 2013, these will continue to be my priorities going forward.
Just this week, I read some interesting data about voter registration in N.C. More and more citizens who are registering to vote in our state are not choosing a political party affiliation. In fact, unaffiliated voters now represent 26 percent of all registered voters in N.C., according to data from the N.C. Board of Elections. This is happening for many reasons, but it certainly sends a message that citizens are paying attention and do not necessarily feel comfortable with the current political climate. A few days ago a good friend told me he had changed his registration to unaffiliated because of the N.C. legislature’s cuts to education, cuts that I could not support because I believe education is the key to economic prosperity. After spending the past year in Raleigh, I can understand these feelings and frustrations and it is exactly why I have focused on working with my colleagues in both parties on common sense legislation to find positive ways we can improve our state. Regardless of partisan affiliation, we need to remember that citizens elect us to solve problems and collaborate on finding solutions to build a better N.C. for the next generation.
I have realized over the course of my personal career in business and in public service just how important it is in times like these to work together. This year, it has been a goal of mine, especially as a freshman legislator, to keep an open mind, to look for ways to work together, to listen to other viewpoints and to do what my grandfather used to do when confronted with a problem. He would say you should examine all sides of an issue, seek the advice of others, and then make a decision you feel is in the best interests of those who are impacted by your decision. It was good advice then and has helped me many times since. So while we have all seen examples of extremism on both ends of the political spectrum, I truly believe we should work together on the state level to make a difference, and to find ways to make the future more prosperous for our children and grandchildren.
I thank you for your prayers, encouragement, and advice on issues of importance to you and your families. It is an honor for me to serve you in the N.C. Senate. I am inspired and optimistic we will meet the challenges before us as we begin a new year in 2014. I have met so many wonderful people in my district which includes Anson, Richmond, Rowan, Scotland and Stanly counties. During the session and since our adjournment, I have heard from many of you on issues ranging from education policy and funding to taxes, agriculture, environmental concerns, and job creation strategies. While we do not go into session again until mid-May, please remember that my office is here to help with any state government issues and problems you may have with agencies and services. My staff and I have worked on behalf of constituents, students, businesses, physicians’ offices, and local governments this year to expedite N.C. Tracks payments, to intervene when agencies are not being responsive and giving you the support and assistance you deserve. Our office is open to advocate for you and I encourage you to contact us anytime.
Finally, I want to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. As the angel said on that quiet night, “I bring you good news of great joy, which will be for all the people…” (Luke 2:10) This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, many of us have family traditions we observe each year. For our family, one tradition is attending Christmas Eve service together. As we worship on this Christmas Eve, be assured I will be praying for God’s continued guidance for me. My prayer will also be for you and your loved ones — that you will know peace, love and joy in the New Year.