Two hotly contested local races for seats in the N.C. General Assembly feature various Republicans jockeying for a spot on the November ballot. The March 15 primary includes two Republican contenders for the state House’s 115th District and three for the Senate’s 48th District. The Democrats in these races are unopposed in the primary.
N.C. House 115th District
In the Republican primary, Black Mountain resident Bob Chilmonik goes up against Fairview’s Frank Moretz for the chance to unseat Democratic incumbent John Ager in November.
Chilmonik, who teaches business and computer tech full time at Asheville High School and part time at A-B Tech, has emphasized job growth and reducing corporate taxes to lure businesses to the region.
“Businesses are attracted to states that have a low tax structure; modern roads; an experienced, well-trained workforce; and strong public schools,” he says. “The state overregulates small businesses at the federal, state and local levels with reports, surveys and, in some cases, ridiculous mandates. My goal is to reduce these obstacles by cutting taxes and attracting high-paying jobs to Buncombe County.”
The educator, who previously worked for Nabisco and Heinz, also wants to restructure public education, emphasizing improved technological resources, competitive compensation packages for teachers and tailoring curricula to individual student needs. Chilmonik also calls for more transparency concerning public records, including those of publicly funded charter schools.
“I strongly believe that open government reduces waste and unnecessary spending,” he says. “The public is paying the bill and has the right to see how the money is spent and to whom.”
Moretz, a retired anesthesiologist and Air Force veteran who’s a part owner of Highland Brewing Co., has zeroed in on the need for health care reform, job creation, economic growth and more support for public schools statewide.
“Health care accounts for 23 percent of the state budget, and currently, there is only one physician in the General Assembly,” he points out. “Likewise, education accounts for 57 percent of the state budget. I graduated from a public high school and from UNC undergraduate and medical schools, so I know the value of public education.”
Moretz also takes a firm stand on health care, calling for dismantling the federal Affordable Care Act. Although he concedes that “There are limitations on what can be done on the state level to dismantle the affordable care system, I am letting voters know where I stand … so they can understand the principles I will use in any related opportunities.” Health care reform, he maintains, must involve all levels, from patient to government, working together.
Similarly, he believes public education must fit the community each school serves. “Are the educational needs of a student in a rural school the same as those of one in an urban school?” Moretz asks. “The quality of education should be the same for all locations, but the curriculum should vary according to the students’ needs.”
He also favors eliminating restrictions on businesses to stimulate job growth and wage increases for workers. If elected, Moretz says he would work to persuade “small, environmentally conscious businesses to locate here” through improved tax and regulatory policies.
N.C. Senate District 48
In this race, three Republican candidates are facing off for the chance to lock horns with Democratic contender Norman Bossert, who’s running unopposed. All four contenders are setting their sights on the seat long held by Senate fixture Tom Apodaca, who’s retiring after 12 years of service.
Republican Dennis Justice, a welder at Thermo Fisher Scientific who’s a former president of the Henderson County Republican Men’s Club, seeks to redefine some of his party’s typical positions. “I decided to run for state Senate to help restore the concept of ‘Lincoln conservatism’ to the Republican Party,” he explains. “I’m aghast that the party leadership only seems to fight for more debt and corporate welfare.”
Justice opposes the amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage, supports legalizing medical marijuana and wants to abolish for-profit prisons. Lincoln, he maintains, “would be aghast at how the party has made homosexuals the ‘boogeyman’ for everything wrong in America. The issue is not whether I personally agree with a lifestyle: The issue is about rights.”
If elected, Justice says he’d focus on wiser spending in Raleigh, better teacher pay and mental health care, as well as funding for an arts center in downtown Asheville and a concrete dome arena at the WNC Agricultural Center.
“When the Carolina Panthers can get $87.5 million from Charlotte taxpayers and we can’t get funding for a decent arts center in Asheville, we have a problem,” he says. “This is the danger of the ‘overlord mentality’ in Raleigh. There’s too many people in power who placate the ‘I’ve got mine’ crowd. The reality is, we have to find a way to work together or we’ll lose representation in Western North Carolina after the next census.”
Republican Lisa Baldwin, a columnist for The Tribune Papers and a former Buncombe County school board member, says her familiarity with the state’s educational system and government, and her devotion to “preserving our precious liberty and freedom for the next generation,” make her the ideal candidate for the 48th District.
Baldwin advocates free market educational reform, giving students more choice in what schools they attend, and rejecting the Common Core educational standards. “Community colleges are seeing remediation rates in excess of 50 percent,” she says. “It is imperative to replace Common Core with higher academic standards and encourage vocational ‘schools within a school,’ such as health care or STEM academies within local high schools.”
To stimulate private sector job growth, Baldwin, a former economist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, also calls for lowering taxes and reducing regulation of businesses unless it would affect public safety. “Specifically, I would like to see the 4 percent corporate income tax rate eliminated and personal income tax rates continue to go down,” she says, adding that E-Verify laws and the Protect North Carolina Workers Act must be enforced.
Endorsed by the N.C. Police Benevolent Association and recipient of the John Locke Foundation’s 2012 Leadership in Public Service Award, Baldwin supports Second Amendment gun rights and would also push to implement zero-based budgeting for government agencies, forcing them to focus on core services. Citing biblical principles, Baldwin is pro-life and favors traditional marriage.
The third candidate in this race, Flat Rock resident Chuck Edwards, says he’s chosen to run to fill a vacancy “that requires the need for strong leadership to effectively represent WNC in Raleigh.”
Edwards, who owns seven McDonald’s franchises in the region and serves on the board of directors of Entegra Bank, says, “I’m the only candidate with real-world experience and involvement to grow the economy, create jobs, and develop and achieve large budgets.” He advocates “fiscal responsibility” in Raleigh, noting, “My business experience has taught me that efficiency measures, cost-benefit analysis and accountability must be in place in order to reduce spending. I intend to look for these things and work to install them where they are not present.”
If elected, Edwards would also seek to “get the politics out of” the state educational system and “allow educators do their jobs” by replacing the Common Core standards, improving students’ workplace readiness, raising the pay for high-performing teachers and expanding school choice.
A graduate of Blue Ridge Community College, Edwards says a key part of his platform is “being sure our voice is loudly recognized in Raleigh. I have spent my life building the economy and creating jobs in my own company, those I’ve been hired to help direct, and many organizations to which I belong. Any candidate will tell you they can do these things, but there is no replacement for actually having demonstrated the ability.”