After five terms representing northern Henderson County, Rep. Chuck McGrady will give someone else a chance at his District 117 seat. In May, the influential Republican announced that he wouldn’t seek reelection so he could spend more time with his family and the Western North Carolina mountains.
On the Republican side of the ballot, former Rep. Tim Moffitt, who served Buncombe County’s District 116 before losing to Democrat Brian Turner in 2014, faces off against self-employed Uber driver Dennis Justice. Moffitt did not submit responses to the Xpress candidate guide, but on his campaign website, he features his previous work on “government oversight, private property rights, regulatory reform and tax policy.”
Justice, who has previously run for the Henderson County school board, Henderson County Board of Commissioners and state House, identifies rural fiber internet access as a major policy goal. He also advocates for the construction of a concrete dome arena at the WNC Ag Center for both economic development and emergency management benefits.
Although two names will appear on the Democratic ballot, Danaé Aicher announced in January that she was dropping out of the race. She has lent her backing to the remaining Democrat in the race, Josh Remillard, a first-time candidate who works as a quality assurance specialist for Gaia Herbs.
The name of each candidate is linked to their responses in the post:
Danaé Aicher will appear on the ballot but has dropped out of the race.
Occupation: Quality assurance specialist, Gaia Herbs
Previous candidacy or offices held: None
Key endorsements: Danaé Aicher, Henderson County Democratic Party
Amount of money raised: $4,015
Top three donors: Gladys Remillard, Thomas Leonard, Jim Fawks
What makes Western North Carolina home to you? Western North Carolina is gorgeous. I wake up in the morning to go to work, and there’s a mountain right outside my door. On my way to work, I get to enjoy a beautiful sunrise. More than that, I have never met more caring, giving and supportive people.
What do you bring to the General Assembly that other candidates don’t? I bring cross-aisle appeal. My primary goal is relationship building, through trust, to take collective action. Additionally, I bring a fundamental understanding of the purpose of government and politicians with a bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy. Regarding the issues concerning our area, I start from a point of curiosity: a willingness to investigate the issues from all angles to discover appropriate solutions. The Army instilled in me a mission-first mindset, keeping me focused on what’s important.
What do you see as the greatest specific need for your district compared to the rest of WNC, and how would you propose meeting it? I see health care being the greatest specific need for our district because our community largely consists of people that are of retirement age and those that are aging. I would vote to expand Medicaid. Also, if people are able to pay their hospital bills, then our rural hospitals would not have to worry about closing down due to having to foot the bill for aid administered.
Retiring Rep. Chuck McGrady was known for his bipartisanship and strong environmental leadership. How will you respond to that legacy if elected? Rep. Chuck McGrady is considered a centrist/moderate; with me you get the same thing, only as a Democrat. Building strong relationships through fostering trust is important to me. This has always been my belief, whether it was accomplishing missions with my fellow service members or Iraqi counterparts. Protecting our agricultural industry is a high priority, as it is the lifeblood of WNC and Henderson County in particular. To that end, it’s my mission to safeguard our environment.
In what ways can the state support the rapid population growth taking place in WNC? We achieve the protection of our agricultural industry through mass transit, as it significantly reduces our carbon footprint. Additionally, mass transit permits people to be more mobile, mitigating rapid population growth.
How will you contribute to resolving a state budget process that has proven highly contentious in recent years? Through building strong relationships, I could sit with my counterparts to listen to their concerns, compromise and negotiate. My more direct approach would be to engage the finance committee and the rules committee and see not only what money we have that we can put into other necessary programs, but also whether some of our rules regarding policy creation are good or need to be overhauled.
Occupation: Self-employed (Uber)
Previous candidacy or offices held: I ran for state Senate four years ago, County Commission twice, Mayor of Fletcher once and Board of Education a few times.
Key endorsements: I am not seeking endorsements now
Amount of money raised: Under $300
Top three donors: I am self-financed and will not accept more than $99 in a primary from anyone else outside of family.
What makes Western North Carolina home to you? I have lived in Henderson County for 40 years, ever since my parents divorced, but have had family roots from both sides of my family for many generations. It is where I want to leave an inheritance for my children’s children. Driving for Uber has shown me things about the area that even I didn’t know after all these years, still learning new things every day.
What do you bring to the General Assembly that other candidates don’t? I’m by far the most independent-minded conservative candidate. My start in politics was with United We Stand America, and I’m not for sale at any price. I have a master’s degree in sports management and I’m irreplaceable in terms of writing laws on the likely expansion of gambling in this state. I want funds only for local parks to fight our 33% adult obesity rate (15% of high school students). Both parties look at the issue from a greed standpoint.
What do you see as the greatest specific need for your district compared to the rest of WNC, and how would you propose meeting it? The WNC Ag Center needs to be incorporated in any future regional emergency management plans. Fiber internet needs to be in every building, helping event promoters as well. I previously advocated for a concrete dome arena there and got nothing but excuses from state leaders, while local “leaders” gave the Carolina Panthers $87.5 million of Charlotte taxpayer money. A smaller dome arena rescues people evacuating the coast from a hurricane and benefits the working class who make Henderson County run.
Retiring Rep. Chuck McGrady was known for his bipartisanship and strong environmental leadership. How will you respond to that legacy if elected? What about the legacies of Larry and Carolyn Justus?! (I’m saying that just to tweak Mr. McGrady and honor his predecessors.) The seat belongs to taxpayers, not one politician or party. Nevertheless, I have a long history of independent thinking. I was the only Henderson County Republican to publicly and correctly oppose the “marriage amendment” and call for its removal. I have also been a longtime advocate for environmentally friendly concrete domes for affordable housing, school buildings and recreation centers.
In what ways can the state support the rapid population growth taking place in WNC? Repave and repair road and maintain infrastructure now. Debt-free projects by saving money for projects now and not put our children in debt with long-term bonds. I advocate buying land in the region now for a much closer mental hospital and save money for it over 10 years. I advocate a statewide public utility to put fiber Internet in every home, starting in the rural counties. This keeps populations more spread out and not just focused on big cities.
How will you contribute to resolving a state budget process that has proven highly contentious in recent years? The Republicans could’ve won it all in 2016 to prevent this and blew it. Republicans couldn’t retain the governor’s mansion despite Donald Trump winning this state by over 3%. There’s more independents than Republicans in North Carolina and Henderson County. Just enough refused to vote for Pat McCrory to cost us that race. Had the Republicans backed off the “bathroom bill,” which South Carolina Republicans did and I suggested when I ran for state Senate, we would’ve won it all.
Occupation: Search and management consultant, real estate broker
Previous candidacy or offices held: N.C. Rep. District 116, 2011-14
Key endorsements: Did not respond.
Amount of money raised: Did not respond.
Top three donors: Did not respond.
Tim Moffitt did not provide responses by Xpress‘s deadline.