Speciale: stand up, oppose mandates

Published 8:15 pm Thursday, March 29, 2012

Michael Speciale, a candidate for the N.C. House of Representatives, believes it’s time for North Carolina to stand up to the federal government and oppose any mandates that exceed the authority granted to it under the U.S. Constitution.

“For me, the major issue is liberty. That’s why I’m running,” he said. “Issues need to be addressed with liberty in mind.”

Michael Speciale

Speciale is seeking the 3rd District seat in the N.C. House of Representatives. The district includes all of Pamlico County and parts of Beaufort and Craven counties.

He is one of three Republicans who are vying for the their party’s nomination in the May 8 primary. The other candidates are Wayne Langston of Chocowinity and Clayton Tripp of Vanceboro. The GOP primary winner will face the Rev. Robert Cayton of Edward, the Democratic nominee, in the general election in November.

Incumbent Rep. Norman W. Sanderson did not seek re-election to the seat. He is vying in the Republican primary to become the GOP nominee for the 2nd District seat in the state Senate.

Speciale said that recent mandates — such as mandatory seat-belt laws and mandated speed-limit restrictions — that were imposed by the federal government on the states are violations of the U.S. Constitution. These mandates are usually accompanied by a threat to withhold federal funding so state legislatures usually bow to federal demands in order to preserve the funds, he noted.

“Our Legislature needs to stand up to that,” he said.

Speciale said, if elected, he would work to reduce taxes, in part, by curtailing expenditures on programs that place an unnecessary burden on the state’s taxpayers. An example of that is the continued taxpayer support of Tryon Palace in New Bern, he said. While noting that the project is “well-intentioned” and a boost to the tourist economy in Craven County, Speciale said that the project has received taxpayer support for some 50 years.

“At what point are they going to wean it off the taxpayers’ dollars?” he said.

He also said he would seek additional savings by eliminating duplicate programs that serve the same purpose.

Speciale said he would work to improve the state’s economy by removing unnecessary regulations on business, lowering the corporate-tax rate and reducing state spending. He said he would work to reduce federal and state interference in local decisions about education and to return the public schools’ focus to a core curriculum of reading, writing and arithmetic.

He also supports a program of school vouchers that would better enable parents to decide where their children are educated.

Speciale said he is opposed to recent efforts by the N.C. General Assembly to mandate tolls on ferries that cross the Pamlico and Neuse rivers.

He believes the ferries are merely an extension of the state’s roads and should be just as free and accessible as those roads. He adds, however, that if tolls are needed to reduce deficits in the state’s budget or if they would help reduce the burden on North Carolina’s taxpayers, then a “regular rider” discount program should be implemented for those who use the ferries regularly to go back and forth to work.

Speciale, 56, is a native of Chicago. He joined the Marine Corps in 1973. He first came to North Carolina at the age of 18 when he was assigned to and spent much of his career at Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.

After he retired from the Marine Corps in 1995 at the rank of staff sergeant, Speciale worked in business and industry for several years, including, most recently, Country Aire Rental, a tool and equipment rental business in New Bern.

Speciale earned a basic law enforcement training credential from Craven Community College and an associate degree in business and operations management from Craven Community College. He is a graduate of the N.C. Institute of Political Leadership based in Wilmington.

The candidate is a charter member and former director of The Retired Enlisted Association Chapter 92, former chairman of the Craven County Republican Party, former chairman of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association and a former reader for the Radio Reading Service of Eastern North Carolina, among other activities.

Speciale, a former candidate for state House, was the Republican nominee in the 2006 race against then-incumbent Rep. Alice Graham Underhill.

He and his wife Hazel live in Stately Pines and have two children and seven grandchildren.