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Today’s 2020 Candidate Announcements

Note: Each day, the High Country Press will share emails and announcements from candidates that are entering their names into the 2020 primary and general election. Today we received the following announcements from N.C. House Representative Ray Russell, Watauga County School Board candidate Ronny Holste and U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx. 

Rep. Ray Russell Files for Re-Election to N.C. House

Most people in Western North Carolina know Ray Russell as the founder and president of RaysWeather.com. But his professional experience expands across business, education, ministry, science, and government.

Ray was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives in November 2018. In his first run for political office, he defeated a 4-term incumbent. Since arriving in Raleigh in January 2019, Ray has sponsored or co-sponsored 125 bills in the NC House and was the first Freshman Democrat to have sponsored a bill signed into law. His legislative work has focused on the issues most frequently voiced by voters in 2018: public education, health care, clean air and water, better government, and rural economic development.

Ray has been a computer science professor at Appalachian State University since 1991, previously teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University and Freed-Hardeman University. Ray was the first Chair of the Computer Science Department at Appalachian State.

In 2000, Ray began RaysWeather.Com initially as a hobby. Today, RaysWeather.com is a thriving small business that provides custom weather services for people in the Southern Appalachian region. It is the most widely read media outlet in northwest North Carolina. In 2016, Raysweather.com was recognized as the “Business of the Year” from the Boone Chamber of Commerce.

Ray has deep roots in Western North Carolina, having lived here for more than a quarter of a century after growing up in Manchester, Tennessee. Ray’s academic background includes a bachelor’s degree in Bible, master’s degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science, and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Georgia Tech. In the late 70s, Ray began his career as a minister for churches in Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and North Carolina.

Ray is a person of perseverance. In 2016, he ran the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway – 469 miles in 24 days. He is one of only two people to have run the entire Blue Ridge Parkway. Ray has also run 10 marathons, including Boston, New York, Chicago, and Berlin.

His commitment to his community is shown by his active participation in civic organizations, including his role as campaign chair for the High Country United Way for three years. Ray has served on several non-profit organization boards and is a frequent speaker in public schools across the region.

Ray and Rhonda have been married for more than 41 years. Rhonda is a powerful advocate for children, having spent 20 years as a preK and kindergarten teacher, mostly in Avery and Watauga Counties. She is now a Senior Lecturer in Child and Family Studies at Appalachian State. Ray and Rhonda have two children, Leah (a clinical psychologist) and Laura (a pharmacist working as a drug information specialist). Today, Ray loves his role as “Ray Ray,” grandfather to his four grandchildren. They serve as Ray’s motivation to work hard for ALL families in Ashe and Watauga counties.

For more information on Ray’s campaign, please visit www.rayfornc.com.

Virginia Foxx Confirms Plans to Run for Re-Election in New 5th District

U.S. Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) confirmed today that she plans to run for re-election to the United States House of Representatives in North Carolina’s recently re-drawn 5th Congressional District in 2020. Foxx made the following statement:

“It is heartening to see that the voters of North Carolina will not experience further disruption as they prepare to vote on their representation in Congress next year, now that the judicial injunction halting preparations for the 2020 election has been lifted,” Foxx said.  “As the voters begin their considerations in the now-settled districts, I am confirming my plans to file for re-election in 2020 in the 5th District.”

“My constituents all across western North Carolina have told me for years that they want a conservative fighter with a backbone who is ready to fight for the solutions our communities need.  And my track-record is clear: I have worked hard to represent and fight for our communities, and I plan to continue to do so if I am re-elected in 2020.  While I will miss the communities that no longer remain in the 5th District, I look forward to working tirelessly in Washington on behalf of the new communities that have been added to the district.

“The greatest honor of my life is representing the amazing people of the 5th District in Congress.  It is a blessing to serve these wonderful communities and a privilege to fight every day for the North Carolina values we hold dear.  The fact that I have the honor of serving in Congress is testimony to the power of the American dream: that a woman like me, who grew up in the mountains of North Carolina in a home without running water and electricity, would go on to serve in Congress.  It never ceases to amaze and humble me and is one reason why I am excited to be running for re-election in 2020.”  

Ronald Holste, Candidate for Watauga County School Board

It is with humility that I place my name as a candidate for the Watauga County Board of Education. It is my purpose to be a steward for the parents, students, teachers, and administrators of Watauga County Schools. As a candidate, it is important that I adequately introduce myself and convey my aspirations and drive to serve our students.

I am a devoted husband to my wife, Gina, and a dedicated father to my daughter, Ava, and son, Henry. Their love and support are vital in all I have been able to accomplish. I moved to Boone nearly 14 years ago as a graduate student at ASU. As soon as I came, I had a sense that Watauga County would be home. I took a position at the Western Youth Network (WYN), where I soon became the Director for Prevention programs. Then, in January of 2011, I accepted a teaching position at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute (CCC&TI). Each of these positions has helped to shape my understanding of pre-K-12 students. For example, I truly believe that all students have talents and gifts that can benefit our community; however, many of the talents and gifts may not fit into the box of a 4-year college education…nor should we want them to. Instead, there are many careers and professions that we need that many of our fine students can fill if we have a strong and vibrant economy. A strong public education system is necessary to assuring we maintain such a vibrant economy.

Public education is one of the most important and vital resources we provide communities. It is my belief that in the last decade the NC Legislature has fallen short on supporting education and it is up to us, the local community, to make sure it does not impede our students’ growth in education. Although local boards are unable to make direct change to NC state legislation, they are the entry for changes in state policy to our local schools and the voice of local schools to the ever-changing statewide legislative agenda. With local creativity and community support, the Watauga County Schools can continue to show critical support to teachers by increasing supplement pay, while also providing teachers ample planning time to prepare for lessons and increase student learning. In addition, Watauga County Schools can seek out and find innovative ways to support and finance early education programs that support all students. Lastly, Watauga County Schools can send a clear message to Raleigh that we do not support cutting teacher tenure or master’s pay. I ask for your vote this year.”


Ronny Holste