Letter to the Editor: James Perry for Chris Humphrey

Letter to the Editor: James Perry for Chris Humphrey

Rural North Carolina is being left behind. Large population centers like Wake and Mecklenburg counties continue to grow at almost alarming rates, while we continue to lose population. Population losses cause property values to drop, shrinking the tax base. This means rural areas have less ability to pay for certain basic needs, like the local education system.

According to the General Statutes, It is the responsibility of each county to provide school buildings. Wealthy, high population counties can afford to build new schools, and pay additional compensation supplements for educators and administrators. Lenoir County is classified as a Tier One, economically depressed county by the State of North Carolina. Our tax payers are already burdened by the 12th highest property tax rate of 100 counties, and our spending continues to grow while our population / tax base is shrinking.

Population growth leads to higher demand for housing, and increases property values. New construction is the lifeblood of a growing, vibrant community, and our tax rates make us less competitive for that construction. We need to do something differently if we want different results.

Arguably, the State of North Carolina has contributed to some of the economic and population imbalances we face. Past decisions regarding the location of certain resources, and the use of economic incentives to attract industry and spur job growth have resulted in steerage. Under our current funding formulas, which are population driven, and based on retail sales, rural North Carolina will never be able to “catch up” with our funding needs.

Our school funding methodology and other formulas were largely written decades ago. Our state has changed, and those distribution methods need to change also. While we have seen some minor evolution in the past few years, we need significant reform. Our educators are planting the seeds of the future for our community, and our children deserve representation that will help deliver different results. We also need more state level economic incentives in order to attract new industry, new families, et cetera. Absent State level intervention, rural areas will continue down their existing path.

If we want to see different results for rural North Carolina, and specifically for District 12, we must try a different approach. If we want better outcomes for our community, we need representation that is respected by a majority of lawmakers, regardless of political party.

Laws simply can’t be changed without a majority vote. If we are to see a better future for the people of District 12, we must elect a lawmaker who has the ability to persuade other lawmakers to help with our cause. Our community must have a representative whom is respected by his / her colleagues if we hope to see laws passed to address our issues. The people must have an advocate who is willing to walk to the office of 169 other lawmakers to build relationships, and gain their support for change. We must have someone who can deliver results.

We have a unique opportunity to be heard as a unified voice, now that District 12 includes all of Lenoir County. We have had effective leadership from Senator Louis Pate, Representative John Bell, and Senator Don Davis. I specifically include Senator Davis because this is not a partisan issue. Don Davis is an effective lawmaker, known for his intelligence, eloquence, and common sense approach to issues. Don, an Air Force Academy Graduate, is a man of character, who stood with our farmers, and rural North Carolina, with his votes.

Chris Humphrey understands that we need different results in rural North Carolina. He understands that action must be taken if we want to chart a new course for our future. He will advocate for updating State Laws so that our area, and those like ours, have a fighting chance for success. Chris will not turn his back on farmers, and the agribusiness community, which is so vital to our local economy. Chris will work to improve the future for our children.

If we keep doing what we have been doing, we will keep getting the same results. If we want to see different results, we must try a different approach. I want more for our community, and I want more for our children. I voted for Chris Humphrey to represent District 12 in the North Carolina House of Representatives. I hope you will vote for him too…and take a friend to the polls with you!

James Perry
Kinston, NC

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