02/26/08 — David Rouzer running for Senate District 12 seat

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David Rouzer running for Senate District 12 seat

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 26, 2008 1:53 PM

Despite Wayne County holding only about 20 percent of the voters in his district, David Rouzer promised Monday night that he wouldn't forget about them if eventually elected to the state General Assembly.

But first, the Johnston County native noted, he has to win to the Republican primary for the state Senate District 12 seat.

"I'm sure it's going to be a competitive race," Rouzer told Wayne County Republicans Monday.

Because he believes it to be a fairly conservative district -- Republican state Sen. Fred Smith was elected to three terms before deciding to run for governor this year -- he explained that he thinks "the real race will be in the primary on May the sixth."

"I'm going to work as hard as I can," Rouzer said. "I'm going to spend a lot of time in Wayne County. Just because the majority of the district is in Johnston County, that doesn't mean I'm not going to serve you.

And while he is doing that, he does have a handful of issues that he wants to address -- primarily taxes and government regulation, although education, water and energy also are on the agenda.

"We are over-regulated, over-taxed, and they're spending your money like it's theirs," he said.

The problem, he explained, is that since he worked for N.C. State University's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 2001, the state budget has increased from about $13.5 billion to about $21.2 billion, with the third biggest expenditure being debt service despite the last three years of surpluses.

"They keep coming up with new ways to tax and new ways to spend," Rouzer said. "The state of the state is not good. We've got major problems, and we're sitting on an economy that's beginning to struggle. We need to make this state more business-friendly."

But that does not mean providing tax incentives, he said.

"That says your business climate isn't good," he said.

Instead, what he means is that taxes need to be cut.

"We've got to cut taxes across the board," he said. "You've got to have tax cuts in order to get more product development."

He also points to the need to examine governmental regulations.

"We need to take a look at our environmental regulations," he said. "I'm all for the environment, but it shouldn't take five years to get a permit."

And that is a problem that has the potential to affect one of the most important issues facing the state -- water and the ability of local governments to find new sources and build new reservoirs, he said.

"We ought to be preparing now for (drought and new development). We've got to be looking at everything," Rouzer said. "Water is going into be a huge, huge problem in the future and I don't see hardly any leadership at the state level."

Other concerns include the need to not only pursue alternative fuel sources, but also existing fossil fuels and natural gases to create a balanced energy portfolio, as well as the need to continue to work on the education system.

"In the area of education, I think we need to give more control at the local level," he said. "I think principals and teachers should be the focus. I think we need to have more resources going for the classes instead of the bureaucracy."

He also said that if elected, he would "be a supporter of Seymour Johnson (Air Force Base) any way I can."

And, he continued, he feels cautiously optimistic about his chances of winning -- especially if he can get through the primary.

Rouzer, 36, began his career in politics shortly after graduating N.C. State University when he moved to Washington, D.C. Once there, he began working as a U.S. Senate doorman before eventually ending up as the senior policy analyst focusing on agricultural issues for Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C.

He's also held positions in Sen. Elizabeth Doles', R-N.C., office -- where he helped put the finishing touches on the tobacco buyout -- as well as in the executive branch early in President George W. Bush's second term running a $5 billion rural loan and grant program.

In addition, he ran for but lost the 2000 primary for state Commissioner of Agriculture, worked for N.C. State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, and now runs his own consulting firm, the Rouzer Company.

He explained that he was asked to run for the seat by several leading Johnston County Republicans.

"It was an honor to be asked," Rouzer said. "And now I just feel like I have an opportunity to make an impact."