03/31/08 — Lieutenant governor candidate promises help for middle class

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Lieutenant governor candidate promises help for middle class

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 31, 2008 1:45 PM

Meeting with party leaders and supporters while campaigning in Goldsboro recently for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor, Greg Dority is emphasizing the need to help the middle class.

"The middle class folks are the ones who carry the state on their backs," he said. "I've talked to over 600 voters one on one, and what they're telling me is that there are two things on their minds."

The first is concern about the economy and the way state government is spending tax dollars.

"People are telling me, 'Greg, we aren't getting our money's worth from the state government,'" he said.

The second issue is illegal immigration.

"There was a time when I was a little more moderate on the issue, but since I've been getting out and talking to people, I believe that we've got to take more of a hard line," he said. "In my opinion, the (other) candidates aren't listening enough. I've learned to listen and talk less, and that's what I'm hearing -- the palpable anger people have against illegal immigration."

That's why instead of calling the phenomenon "illegal immigration," he prefers it to be called the "invasion of criminal elements bent on destabilizing our lawful society."

The problem, Dority said, is that right now, "the middle class is getting squeezed."

"The hammer is state government. There are always more fees and more taxes and inefficiency and fraud. The anvil has become illegal immigration. It puts pressure on social services and it negatively impacts the wage structure of the middle class," he said.

His solution would be to first push to cut the corporate income tax to relieve pressure, particularly on small businesses, as well as to institute a sales tax holiday each quarter.

"Let people send a little less money to state government and put a little more into local businesses," he said. "The individual knows better how to spend their money than the state does."

His solution to the second issue of illegal immigration, would be "de-magnetize" North Carolina.

"North Carolina has become a magnet for illegal immigrants. We've got to get into a race to the bottom (with surrounding states) in the benefits we offer illegal immigrants," he said.

Specifically, he explained, that starts with making it tougher for illegals to get driver's licenses.

And to those people who contend that illegal immigrants provide an important labor pool to do those jobs nobody else will, he disagrees.

"What they really mean is that they can't find labor at the price they want to pay," he said.

But those two issues aren't the only ones he's concerned about.

He also wants to see improvements made in the state Department of Transportation, especially when it comes to fixing roads in the western third of the state.

And in terms of education, he's proposing that more emphasis be placed on foreign language education in the primary grades.

"The kids today are going to have to compete with jobs globally," he said.

He also is proposing that less emphasis be placed throughout the system on standardized testing.

"Teacher are telling me, 'Greg, we've got too many of these state tests,'" he added.

But Dority also says he has an interest specifically in Wayne County, where his 10-year-old daughter often plays travel softball and he has campaigned before during two runs for the U.S. Congress District 1 seat in 2002 and 2004.

"Wayne County has always been very good to me," he said.

And so he feels like he's familiar with some of the issues it's facing -- such as the need for continued support of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, as well as the idea of taking advantage of its railroad and highway access and creating an inland port.

"Wayne County would be an excellent site," he said.

He also said that in terms of water and sewer and other infrastructure needs, the state needs to pave the way for Wayne County to work with its regional partners.

"For Wayne County, we always have to be looking at the regional level, because it's ideally suited for the (state's) next growth phase," he said.

But at the end of the day, Dority continued, because the lieutenant governor doesn't actually have a hands-on role to play with legislation, "it's got to be about leadership" -- whether that means presiding over the state Senate, sitting on the Council of State or on the state Board of Education.

"You've got to reach out to all the elements and sit down at the table," the 49-year-old Washington security consultant said.

But most importantly, he believes that somebody at that table needs to advocate for the middle class.

"No one is speaking out for regular folks," he said. "I just saw people who are hurting and I realized that I could make a difference."