04/10/06 — LaRoque, Starling fight for GOP nod

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LaRoque, Starling fight for GOP nod

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on April 10, 2006 1:47 PM

Two familiar faces will square off beginning this week in the Republican primary race for the District 10 seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Rep. Stephen LaRoque and Willie Ray Starling will face each other again in the battle for the Republican nomination.

The winner will face Democrat Van Braxton in November.

LaRoque says there is still more work to do in District 10, and if he is given more time, he can get even more done.

"In the three or four years I've been in office, it's not enough time to accomplish everything, but we have gotten some roads paved. We've gotten the $7 million for the sewer system," LaRoque said.

The incumbent said he has had a busy term.

Two years ago he said he blocked a bill that would have put animal farmers out of business. During the past year, LaRoque said he has turned to education, helping get the state education lottery passed and pushed for more school facilities projects and need-based scholarships. If re-elected, he said he believes he can help accomplish more.

"My level of influence is increasing every year," he said.

Using that increasing influence in the House, LaRoque said he hopes to push for the creation of more four-lane limited access highways throughout the state and eastern North Carolina. Having a primary infrastructure would assist economic development in the region and keep high school and college graduates living and working in the area, he said.

Other issues he would like to address in the coming sessions of the House are the gas tax, medical malpractice, tort reform, property rights, forced annexation and illegal immigration.

"I think we have a 1930s tax system that we've just been putting Band-Aids on ever since," LaRoque said.

He said he filed a bill late last session that would reform the state tax system. His proposal would establish a consumption-based tax, which would eliminate income taxes, allowing residents to pay for the services they use.

LaRoque said he would also like to eliminate vacant state positions that are left unfilled. The elimination of these positions would save the state about $200 million, he claims. As for other state employees, LaRoque said it is time for those individuals to receive a pay increase.

"They've been left behind ever since the governor has been elected. They haven't gotten anything in the past five or six years. State employees are the engine for this state. They perform all of the services and we need to treat them fairly," he said.

The citizens living outside of municipalities should also be treated fairly, LaRoque said.

"Property rights are extremely important, and we need a constitutional amendment. Land shouldn't be taken for economic development and we should have no more forced annexation. That should be based on a vote of the people within that area," he said.

Also on LaRoque's priority list is continuing economic development in the region as well as smarter use of state resources to attract and retain business and industry.

Challenger Starling said he is tired of corruption in state politics. In addition to cleaning up Raleigh, he has also targeted tax reform and boosting economic development.

"We have the highest taxes in the Southeast and our gas tax is the highest in the nation. I had a friend that went through six states recently, and he told me that the highest price in gas was right here in North Carolina," he said.

If voters select Starling, he said they will get a state representative who works for the common man, not for business.

By bringing honesty and integrity back to the state House, Starling said the working man will see the state is working for him.

"Despite hearing people say politicians lie every time their lips move, I would like to be a statesman. I don't want to be like the rest," Starling said.

He said he would also work to limit the increasing size of the state government and cutting taxes residents pay. Taxes increase each year, yet politicians remain unchecked, he added.

"The power structure needs to change in Raleigh," Starling said.

Other issues Starling said he would bring to the House's attention include a constitutional amendment to protect marriage, stemming the influx of illegal immigrants, regulating economic incentives for industries and controlling the state's trust funds.

Also, the increasing number of illegal immigrants within the nation and state is causing an additional tax burden for District 10 residents and others throughout the state, Starling said. He said the only way to control this problem is through more restrictions, whether at the nation's border or within the state.

Starling said he believes economic incentives to companies interested in locating to the region are nothing more than bribes and a waste of money. Instead, the state should lower the tax burden for industries to make the state and region a more attractive place to relocate.

Transportation issues will also be among the top priorities on his list, if elected, Starling said, especially when it comes to the funds set aside in a trust for that purpose. He added that state leaders need to keep more of an eye on taxpayers' money and to devote less time to furthering their own political agendas.

If elected, Starling said he would treat the citizens of District 10 honestly.

"I'm not out to get rich. I don't want to fill my pockets or any of my buddies' pockets," he said.