GOP candidates jump on the stump

Published 11:03 am Sunday, March 9, 2008

By Staff
Party has a desire to ‘fix’ governmentin the Old North State
Staff Writer
If a standing ovation can be considered approval, then state Sen. Fred Smith got that from Beaufort County Republicans on Friday night when he said North Carolina’s government is “broken.”
Smith, also a gubernatorial candidate, delivered that message, and some sense of how he plans to fix problems in Raleigh, to the Beaufort County Republican Party’s annual Reagan Day Dinner on Friday. About 110 people showed up at Washington Yacht and Country Club to visit with and hear from Republican candidates on everything from Congress to the county school board.
Smith said North Carolina has “gone from the good-road state to the bad-road state,” referencing the recent discovery of wasteful spending within the Department of Transportation. He also said the spate of corruption scandals from disgraced former Speaker of the House Jim Black to Rep. Thomas E. Wright has created a “culture of corruption” within state government.
The theme echoed by the laundry list of local and state candidates who spoke at the dinner was the Republican Party is the party that can “fix” North Carolina, from Beaufort County to the governor’s mansion.
In campaigning to become the state’s next lieutenant governor, Washington resident Greg Dority said fiscal conservatism and illegal immigration have come up most often in his conversations with voters.
As a former Army infantryman, Joe McLaughlin, who is running against Rep. Walter Jones for the 3rd Congressional District seat, said he and Jones agree on immigration law, but differ on national-security issues.
Sticking with the theme of the evening, Dean Stevens, candidate for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Democrat G.K. Butterfield, said Republicans should strive to be like former President Ronald Reagan.
Change at the local level, at least in the makeup of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, is what two female candidates vying for seats on that board are hoping to achieve.
Bertie Arnholz said she would like to “maybe be the second woman on the board.” She called for changing the process by which commissioners vote on issues after witnessing the board approve a $279,000 gift to Agape Health Clinic on Thursday to help start a dental clinic for the poor. The item was added to the board’s agenda by vote after the meeting began, which Arnholz said gave the public little time to comment.
Mike Isbell, running for the Pinetown seat on the Beaufort County Board of Education, said he would like to see a school board that “doesn’t rubber stamp policies that are already set” and “doesn’t make all its decisions behind closed doors.”
Bill Sprenkle, running for the Washington Park/River Road seat on the school board, said he would bring his accounting skills to the school board.
Ashley Woolard, chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party, said he is encouraged by the number of candidates the Republican Party has running for seats at all levels of government.