House Candidates Find Common Ground
The three candidates for N.C. House of Representatives appeared together publicly for the first time Monday at a debate conducted by the local chapter of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE).
This was the candidates' first chance to separate themselves from each other, but they found that they have much in common.
Republican Joe Boylan, who defeated House Speaker Pro Tem Richard Morgan in the May 2 GOP primary, and unaffiliated candidates Gerald Galloway and Manilla "Bud" Shaver, addressed questions on such issues as the Homestead Act for senior citizens, incentives to attract businesses, taxes, ethics reform, Medicaid, immigration, health-care costs and insurance premiums and forced annexation.
The Pilot talked to all three candidates after the event. The one issue that really separated the candidates was their feelings on forced annexation.
It's an issue that is close to the heart of many Pinewild residents who are fighting attempts by the village of Pinehurst to annex the gated country club community. They hope to get legislative help to stop Pinehurst. Some Pinewild residents believe they helped tip the scales in Boylan's favor in the primary, thanks to his vocal objection to forced annexation.
Boylan continued his strong stance against forced annexation, going so far as to say that if elected he would introduce a bill to outlaw it statewide. If that didn't work, he said he would file a bill aimed at Moore County. And if that didn't work, he said he would try a local bill just for Pinewild.
"My position is pretty clear," he said. "I'm against it. I think it's a tax grab. People should not have their taxes raised by people they didn't vote for."
Shaver said that he too is against forced annexation, but he thinks it is an issue that will have to be settled by the courts. Any proposed bill would fail, he predicted.
"You're not going to get legislators to support such a request," he said. "Would a local bill fly? You'd have a hard time getting it. I would never make that kind of a promise to the people."
Galloway said that the kind of conflict Pinewild and Pinehurst are having could be avoided by better planning for growth and better communication.
"It's a bit of a two-edged sword," he said. "If you are in the city, you tend to believe they (residents living near the town) ought to be annexed to help pay for the services they are somewhat benefiting from."
He said the state's annexation law has some strengths and weaknesses and that he has requested information about it to better verse himself in the nuances.
Any changes need to be at the state level, he said. Local bills are only for community issues that are unique, he said. This conflict doesn't fit that definition.
Municipalities need to grow, Galloway said.
"It has to be done orderly," he said. "The law has to be structured in a way that citizens are treated fairly in the process."
All three candidates said that the state needs to figure out a way to better deal with illegal immigrants.
"It bothers people to be at the grocery store and hear a conversation that is not in English and then see the people pull out benefit checks or food stamps," Boylan said.
The three also agreed that the legislature has grown corrupt and bemoaned increased spending and taxation.
"There has got to be some changes," Shaver said. "The system in Raleigh and Washington (D.C.) is broke."
The three candidates used their opening and closing statements to explain how they were the best fit for the position.
Work for Everyone
Each candidate had five minutes to make opening remarks, two minutes to answer each question and four to close. Paul Sams, NARFE chapter legislative officer, moderated. The candidates spoke in alphabetical order.
Boylan continued his mantra that his "shoe-leather" campaign has brought him close to the pulse of the people of the county. Boylan went door to door to solicit votes before his primary showdown with Morgan.
He said his opponents were "unaffiliated by name, but not by action." Shaver is a registered Republican and Galloway only recently switched from Democrat to unaffiliated.
Boylan also pointed out that he is the only one of the three candidates to have actually won an election, against an entrenched incumbent at that.
"It's a significant distinction," he said. "I did something most experts thought couldn't be done."
Boylan did it with the help of the state Republican Party. It endorsed his candidacy and sent mailers to prospective voters. Some have suggested he would be beholden to supporters such as Wake County activist Art Pope in Raleigh.
"I haven't promised anybody anything except to work as hard as I can," he said. "I took a personal vow to work towards the benefit of the people of Moore County."
Issue is 'Credibility'
Galloway said that he would be the right person for the job because he has experience serving the people. He worked for the Southern Pines Police Department for 31 years, 17 of them as chief.
He pointed to his family roots in the area. He said he has made a career out of dealing with people and issues, something that could help in politics. His strength is listening to the people, he said.
"I have a sincere interest in seeing the right thing done by these people," he said.
Voters will have to look at the three candidates and decide which has the most credibility, he said.
"The issue will be credibility," Galloway said. "People will have to look at (each candidate's) history of service he's given the people."
'Fire in My Belly'
Bud Shaver, who is a retired U.S. Army general, said that he initially chose to enter the race because he was upset with some of the dirty politics and name calling that went on during the primary battle between Morgan and Boylan. He did not like the fact that the state party tried to sway the election to Boylan.
"I began to study the problems," he said, "and a fire has grown in my belly."
He pointed out that he brought two lawsuits against the state in the 1990s to keep the state from taking pension money from public employees. Since then he said he has haunted the halls of the General Assembly. It has helped him gain a better understanding of how the legislature works than Boylan and Galloway, he said.
"There is a degree of experience and knowledge that goes with it," he said.
Shaver stressed that this race will be the first for N.C. House in many years in which all Moore County voters can participate.
"This is the first time in a long time that every voter in this county has a chance to vote," Shaver said. "They better do it."
During Morgan's 16-year reign, Democrats rarely recruited a candidate to oppose him. Shaver pleaded with people to vote, saying that those who don't dishonor the sacrifices so many have made for this country.
"Goodness gracious, go vote," he said. "If you don't vote, you have no voice."
Matthew Moriarty may be reached at 693-2479 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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