By Jesse Wood
In the March 15 primary, Lew Hendricks and incumbent Rep. Jonathan Jordan are vying to represent the Republicans for the District 93 seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives that covers Ashe and Watauga counties.
The winner will face either Democrats Sue Counts or Ronnie Marsh in the general election in November.
The only mailer I’ve received so far this primary season is from the Home Builders Education Fund, one that touts Rep. Jonathan Jordan, who is running for re-election, as “helping North Carolinians achieve the American Dream.”
“Jordan has a record of lowering taxes to encourage economic development and promote job creation. A strong North Carolina economy means more people will be able to experience the American Dream of homeownership,” reads the mailer, which has pictures of a couple holding a key ring and another picture of a smiling family standing in front of a home.
Jordan is a Jefferson-based lawyer and he is seeking his fourth term as representative in the N.C. House. In February, he was named co-chair of the House Committee on Education on Universities and months earlier was named chair of the Joint Legislative Administrative Procedure Oversight Committee
When announcing that he was running for office again, Jordan said in a statement in December: “Don’t believe the negatives thrown at our legislative record regarding education funding: North Carolina ranks 7th in the nation for state support for education. Our state funding stands at 57 percent of total education funding, with the national average being only 46 percent. Over the past four years, our Republican legislature has restored $1.2 billion to education to replace $1 billion cut in the two years before we even gained our majority.”
Speaking late last week, Jordan stated that two goals of his if he re-elected are to “continue improvement with education” and continuing tax and regulatory reform.
Under Republican majority, the N.C. General Assembly is in the process of phasing out personal income tax in the state and moving towards consumption taxes. Beginning in March, a new tax was levied on dozens and dozens of services, from car repairs to upholstery.
In response to unhappy citizens and small business owners, Jordan stressed to High Country Press that these tax increases were part of the phasing out of the state income tax and that by allowing a one-cent sales tax increase to expire in 2011, his first year in office, taxpayers have saved $5 billions or $1 billion per year.
“It’s not going to stay this way. The plan is to phase in sales tax to take over the income tax. If everybody looks at the income tax changes, it more than makes up for any changes for sales tax increases,” Jordan said. “They need to look at the overall process and see that it’s a phase-in and a move toward a consumption tax.”
Jordan added that a consumption tax is the “fairest kind of tax” because it taxes based upon the money you spend and not your income. Jordan said that having no income tax is a “big job creator” for states and would keep North Carolina on a competitive footing with neighboring states that don’t have an income tax.
He also stated that improvements for education that he’s eyeing during a potential next term is working on increasing teacher pay for veteran teachers. He noted that salaries for beginning teachers were raised and that “phase two” of this measure is to look at raising salaries for veteran teachers.
“We want to make sure they are covered,” Jordan said.
To see more issues of concern to Jordan and to read more about his candidacy, click to www.jordan4nchouse.com.
When Lew Hendricks announced his candidacy on the first day of filing in December, he said that “Jonathan Jordan hasn’t earned the right to have a free pass in the Republican primary.
“The Republican and Independent voters in Watauga and Ashe County deserve to have a choice. I will give them that choice,” Hendricks said in a statement. “A vote for me is a vote for an unwavering commitment to public education. It is a vote to represent the best interests of the people of Watauga and Ashe County and not the special interests.”
Hendricks said that those were the two “most glaring differences” he offered to Republicans and independent voters marking off a Republican ballot in the primary.
Hendricks spent 10 years in the U.S. military – in both the Navy and the Army. In the Navy, where he was primarily a cryptologist, he did a tour on the USS Vella Gulf, a guided missile cruiser, in the Persian Gulf, and as an Army officer, where he was a platoon leader in an aerial delivery unit, Hendricks was deployed to Iraq in 2011.
In between his separate time as Navy and Army personnel, Hendricks continued his higher education and worked as a budget analyst at the U.S. Department of State. Today, he’s a small business consultant, which he says offers him the flexibility to run for office – and if he wins – to represent the constituents of Ashe and Watauga counties.
In speaking on Monday, Hendricks cited public education as what should be the number one priority in the state, but said he doesn’t see the “commitment from the General Assembly for public education.”
“That issue really bugs me right now,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks said he was particularly frustrated that the budget wasn’t passed last year until after the school year had already started. This left school officials in a state of limbo to begin the school year.
“What that means is local teachers, principals and superintendents didn’t know what they were working with. They didn’t know if they would have teacher assistants or not. Not giving them time to plan is failed leadership,” Hendricks said.
On his website, Hendricks notes that North Carolina should have a lower teacher/teacher assistant ratio and that the state ranks in the bottom 10 of states as far as teacher salary and spending per pupil are concerned.
Asked about something that the N.C. General Assembly did that he agreed with or didn’t agree with, Hendricks mentioned that he didn’t agree with the ag-gag bill, $2 billion bond package and, the already mentioned, passing of budget after the school year began.
Hendricks has gone on record stating that he will vote no for the $2 billion bond package based on “fiscal-conservative principles” and because “going into debt is not a good thing,” according to this interview on YouTube.
Speaking to HCPress.com, Hendricks criticized the “million dollar campaign” sponsored by the state to get the bond package passed and said he thought putting this issue on the ballot amounted to a “copout” by state legislators – because they don’t necessarily have to defend their position.
To see more issues of concern to Jordan and to read more about his candidacy, click to www.hendricks4nchouse.com.
Early voting began on March 3 and runs through March 12. Election day is March 15. Click here for more details on voting sites, hours and more.