By Nathan Ham
In a controversial decision that was first made known by WRAL in Raleigh on August 1, Representative Ray Russell was told to clear out his office and move to another location inside the capital, one that was used as a copy room and storage space until now.
While none of the general voting public will probably ever know the true reason as to why Rep. Russell, who represents Ashe County and Watauga County in the North Carolina House of Representative, was forced to switch offices during an active legislative session, both Russell and a spokesperson for House Speaker Tim Moore have their versions of the story.
According to Russell, he feels that the move was simply all politics and had everything to do with his attempt to place an amendment into a house bill on July 31. In a statement from Joseph Kyzer, a spokesperson for Rep. Moore, the move was made in regards to “recent changes in House membership.” The move was made most likely to open an office for Republican Rep. Jake Johnson, who is replacing Republican Rep. Cody Henson of Transylvania County, who recently pleaded guilty to cyberstalking crimes.
No answers were given as to why Rep. Johnson could not just take over the vacated office from his predecessor.
In a statement on Facebook, Russell was more focused on the real issues instead of what he considers a political move by House Republicans.
“I can serve the citizens of Ashe and Watauga Counties from any office in the legislature. My hope is that House Leadership will work with Governor to end the budget impasse – North Carolina deserves nothing less,” Russell said.
Thursday was day 32 without a vote on the budget, according to a legislative update by Rep. Russell.
“Nearly the equivalent of one teacher position in state tax dollars spent to have this 30-minute session,” Russell noted yesterday.