01/13/08 — Griffin will try for second chance at District 11

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Griffin will try for second chance at District 11

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on January 13, 2008 2:27 AM

Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Ronnie Griffin has decided to again try his hand at state politics, announcing Friday his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the state House District 11 seat.

He ran for the position two years ago, but lost to Republican Louis Pate.

This time, though, if he succeeds in the May primary, Griffin will be looking, not at a three-term incumbent, but at county Commissioner Efton Sager.

"I'm at a point in my life I think I have more to offer now than I think I ever have before, and I believe that Wayne County just deserves somebody in the House that will give strong, effective leadership," Griffin said.

And it's that leadership quality that he thinks makes him the best man for the job.

He points not only to his time in the military -- 38 years in the Marine Corps and the N.C. National Guard, eventually reaching the position of Deputy Adjutant General -- but also to his time as a businessman owning Griffin Auto Sales and running a novelty license plate distribution company in Goldsboro.

"I'd say what makes me prepared is my military training and my time as a businessman in Goldsboro. I feel like I have the background. I understand budgets and I understand priorities," Griffin said.

And tops among those, he continued, must be education.

"We have a problem in some areas of education and we need to do more to make sure we have good teachers. And I think we have to get parents involved in some way in school before we're going to be able to get better," he said.

Specifically, he continued, they need to improve science and engineering offerings, as well as technical education for those students who aren't going to college.

Then from there, Griffin continued, economic development will follow.

"I think job creation is critical. The only way we're going to increase jobs is to increase education," he said. "But we also need to work on the infrastructure. We're not going to get jobs in eastern North Carolina until we have the roads and infrastructure (water and sewer) to support them."

Other priorities include health care and mental health care.

"We have to at least ensure that every child in North Carolina has health care," he said.

And while that may be largely up to the federal government, he did say there are ways the state could help empower local communities to provide that care -- much like Asheville is currently doing through the donation of time and space by local physicians and hospitals.

Also topping Griffin's list are the need to preserve agriculture and family farms, as well as the military and the need to protect all of the state's bases, especially Seymour Johnson Air Force Base -- an area he feels especially qualified in.

But right now, he emphasized that the ability to prioritize these needs is what's needed most in Raleigh.

"I don't know the answer to (how to pay for all the state's needs), but when I get to the legislature and look at where we're spending our money, I think I can help to set the priorities and keep our spending in line," he said.

Griffin, a 62-year-old Columbus, Ga. native, now lives in Grantham with his wife, Annalee, who runs the state license plate agency in Goldsboro.

The official filing period for the May primaries will begin in February.