Editor’s note: The race for the 30th District seat in the N.C. Senate, which represents Surry and other area counties, originally pitted Democratic nominee Ric Marshall against incumbent Republican Don East, who died on Oct. 22. East’s name will remain on the ballot for Tuesday’s election, and in the meantime area GOP officials are meeting to pick a replacement. Background information on Marshall and his responses to a series of questions relative to state government are being presented here today.
Name: Ric Marshall
Place of residence: Ararat
Educational background: Graduate of Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Va.
Occupation: Is the president of Southland Logistics, a general freight trucking company headquartered in Boonville.
Previous political experience/public service: Has been a candidate for state legislative and county commissioner seats in the past; serves on the boards of directors of Yadkin Valley Economic Development District Inc. and the Uptown Gallery; is a founder of the group Matthew 25:35 Inc., which supplements the work of area food banks.
Question: Why are you the best candidate for this office?
Answer: Because I’ve been in the community and I have my finger on the pulse of the community. I’ve worked as a volunteer and am aware of what our area needs.
Folks are out of work and some don’t even have enough food on the table and we’re playing party politics in Raleigh and Washington. I want to be a senator for all the people. I’ve been campaigning for quite some time, sometimes covering the entire district in a day. Campaigning is not only a time for people to get to know you, it’s also a time for you to get to know the people.
You can’t just sit in Raleigh and know the needs of your district. When legislation is proposed, I will ask teachers, business owners and others, “how does this affect you?” I will represent everyone. Right now, we’re not getting that — we’re not getting that at all. The people of the 30th District are not getting the representation they deserve. I have been endorsed by the N.C. Association of Educators and N.C. Voters for Animal Welfare.
Question: What is your assessment of the present condition of state government?
Answer: I see it as disabled. The N.C. General Assembly has a 16-percent approval rating right now. If you and I had a 16-percent approval rating, what would we have? We’d be unemployed. We’re at a stalemate in Raleigh and nothing is getting done that is helping the 30th District. We’ve seen no jobs come to Surry County and we’ve not seen anything that’s helped the 30th District in the last two years.
Question: Along with jobs, what are the most urgent needs in this district?
Answer: Education is the main one. The N.C. General Assembly cut $1.6 billion out of education and said, “we’re not cutting teachers.” But when you’re cutting funding to the counties, it ends up cutting teaching jobs and education is the key to everything. Our children are our future and their future depends on education. It is going to bring in new jobs.
Let me give you a quick example: Wilkes County’s biggest employer went to the school officials there and said, “the county needs new schools and we’ll even help you with the costs.” The school officials played partisan politics and said no and their biggest employer picked up and moved to Mooresville. That was Lowe’s hardware. This is a prime example of how education is the key to everything, because you have to educate your work force.
Question: Assuming creating jobs in the district would be your top priority if elected, how would you bring that about?
Answer: Well, first of all I would be an active partner in trying to get folks to take a look at North Carolina and at Surry, Stokes and Wilkes counties. I would get them to come to our area and take a look at our interstate highways and other resources. You can’t just sit in Raleigh and say “I’m the senator for the 30th District.” You have to get out and work. I also would help small business, not just by giving them tax breaks but providing a helping hand in other ways that will allow them to grow.
Question: The state budget is tight; what areas do you think should be cut, or on the other hand, which might be in need of more funding?
Answer: Well, of course, education needs more funding to make sure we’re teaching the children. The first thing you’ve got to do is agree where wasteful spending is occurring. You’ve got public servants going to Raleigh and getting paid $45,000 for a part-time job, then they turn around and reduce funding to education and lay off people. Educating our children is not wasteful spending.
We’ve got to look at the budget for each state agency and stop practices such as making sure funds left over at the end of the year are spent by those agencies rather than going back into the revenue pool. They should be returned, with the understanding that spending less won’t cause the agencies to be shorted for the next year if the same level of funding is needed. We need leadership for that kind of thing.
Question: Other than more money, what should be done to improve public education in North Carolina?
Answer: I personally would like to look at ways to address the teaching of our children that are not just focused on testing, so they know more about history, more about math, more about English — so they’re not just being taught to take tests. We need to make sure students know what they have to in order to survive in a global economy.
But with the devastating cuts the N.C. General Assembly has made in the last two years in education, North Carolina is now 49th in the nation behind Mississippi. We are losing one out of eight teachers to different careers and some people will come here to be trained, then go to other states such as Pennsylvania where they can be paid more.