DOBSON — With election day fast approaching and campaigns in overdrive, it is only three days until voters decide who will represent them in the North Carolina Senate.
In the race for North Carolina’s 30th Senate District — which includes Surry, Wilkes and Stokes counties — incumbent Republican Sen. Shirley Randleman, 65, faces opposition from Democrat Michael Holleman, 51.
Both candidates reside in Wilkesboro. Randleman is a retired clerk of court who would enter her fourth term in the senate, and Holleman is a school teacher seeking to unseat the long-time public official.
Holleman said it’s time for somebody to represent the people instead of special-interest groups in the state legislature. He pointed to HB2 (the so-called “bathroom bill”) as the latest and most high-profile example of state government overreaching based on the wishes of special-interest groups rather than what is right for the residents of the 30th district.
“It realistically has nothing to do with bathrooms,” said Holleman, noting there is not even a punishment for using the wrong facilities included in the bill. A number of “employer-friendly” workplace discrimination clauses were included in the bill.
“When the legislature is enacting legislation which drives employment opportunities out of our state, it’s time for a change.”
After noting his opposition to HB2, Holleman also said he had made the decision to enter the race long before the controversial bill was passed, citing other overreaching moves on the part of the General Assembly.
He said when the state enacted legislation in 2013 to create an airport authority for Charlotte’s airport, which had been controlled by the city, it trampled on Charlotte’s local jurisdiction.
Likewise, he cited a law passed by the General Assembly which ordered an overhaul to Greensboro’s structure of local government. The law stripped the mayor of voting power and redistricted council seats.
He said those are some examples of a GOP legislature attempting to run every facet of the state from Raleigh.
Holleman also said he believes the legislature is following the steps drawn out by conservative special-interest groups, noting he was deeply concerned when he compared a publication from the conservative John Locke Foundation to what has been going on in state government.
“I’m running because what’s happening in Raleigh doesn’t represent the will of the people,” explained Holleman.
A focus on the district
Randleman voted for HB2, and she defended that stance before shifting toward a focus on the 30th district.
“We took action to stop the illegal and dangerous policy of forcing women and young girls to share bathrooms and locker rooms with grown men by enacting HB2,” noted Randleman in a statement she prepared Friday morning.
“This is a commonsense law that is truly about the safety and privacy of our women and children, which also creates statewide consistency of laws. Twenty-eight other states have nondiscrimination policies similar to North Carolina.”
However, she said she wants to focus on the three counties in her district in her campaign message.
“Rural North Carolina lags in recovery, and addressing our infrastructure needs is crucial to recruit and bring better paying jobs to our rural communities,” stated Randleman. “Our needs range from water and sewer projects to fixing sinkholes in downtown areas — like the sinkhole in Pilot Mountain.”
She said she has worked for the betterment of the district, and she would like the opportunity to continue to do so.
“We successfully had Stone Mountain State Park signs erected on I-77 to attract motorist to our business areas. This signage was also very important to those involved with the Mountains to Sea Trail,” noted Randleman. “We are currently working with individuals to seek approval of a specialized license plate for ‘Mayberry.’”
“I recognize the need and have worked diligently to protect and preserve our land and natural resources. I continue to look for ways to address the needs in our communities, and honestly, ‘no’ is never an acceptable answer.”
Randleman touted her career in public service, saying the decades she spent in the courts system has prepared her to take on many roles in the senate. She is chair of multiple committees related to criminal justice and the courts system, including the Judiciary Committee and the Appropriations on Justice and Public Safety Committee.
“As a part of my job, I implemented, instructed on, and enforced the laws enacted by the legislature,” wrote Randleman. “In my role as a legislator, this practical experience enables me to have input on matters being considered and how they will affect individuals and businesses in our communities.”
Though Holleman has been a public educator for the past 17 years, he said he draws on many experiences throughout his life when making decisions.
“Sometimes you have to walk a mile in somebody’s shoes,” said Holleman. “I’ve worked in manufacturing jobs, textiles and on family farms. I’ll pull on that personal knowledge and experience before making any decisions.”
“My opponent has worked for the state for the past 40 years or more,” added Holleman.
Randleman, after describing the “awesome responsibilities” of her office, said she’s hoping to continue her work for the people of the 30th Senate District.
“For me, it is truly about people, not politics. I ask for your vote and continued support in the Nov. 8 general election.”
Holleman said he was provided with the desire to run while teaching today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders.
“As a teacher I try to get my students to look at different sides of all issues,” explained Holleman. “We analyze a lot of issues, and I realized I’m tired of my generation pushing our problems onto the next generation.”
Polls open on Tuesday at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.