04/11/08 — Goodwin insurance commissioner

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Goodwin insurance commissioner

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on April 11, 2008 1:58 PM

Wayne Goodwin, a Democratic candidate for state Insurance Commission-er, made a campaign stop at Wilber's Barbecue Thursday morning and said that if elected he would work to keep the legacy left by outgoing Commissioner Jim Long alive.

Goodwin serves as Long's assistant and has received Long's endorsement for the post.

He faces David C. Smith of Durham in the May primary. The winner will face Republican John Odom in November.

Long, the longest serving insurance commissioner in state history, developed a strong reputation for forcing insurance companies to keeps rates low. Long also serves as the state Fire Marshal and has worked to help small fire departments across the state, Goodwin said.

"I've had the privilege and opportunity to work next to Jim Long," he told the gathering. "He's stood up for us. He stood up for fire departments. I can not fill his shoes, but I plan to stand on his shoulders to continue his work."

The only way to keep "low, fair and reasonable insurance rates for consumers and businesses alike" is to keep the insurance market competitive, Goodwin said. And someone with experience is needed to accomplish that, he said.

"I am the only candidate in this race that has legislative experience," he said.

Goodwin served as a state representative for eight years. Before his three years as assistant insurance commissioner, Goodwin worked as a private lawyer representing clients suing insurance companies.

He said he believes his experience is balanced between the two, and that in his quest for low insurance rates, that experience will serve the people of North Carolina well.

"The (insurance) regulator needs to be balanced. We need to prepare for the next storm and make sure reserves are increasing because homeowners and businesses need coverage. We also need to look at surrounding states and see what is working for them," he said.

He pointed out that North Carolina's insurance situation is one of the best in the nation.

"We are the largest state with the lowest insurance rate. I want to make sure that the government doesn't tinker with the system in any way that will drive up insurance rates," he said.

Goodwin said he also wants to protect the public and businesses by fighting insurance fraud, "particularly by vigilantly enforcing the law against over-demanding collection agencies who take advantage of consumers whose finances are swept up in the current mortgage crisis."

He pledged to continue to support the Senior's Health Insurance Information Pro-gram that provides Medicare education across the state as well as supporting the Safe Kids program and workplace and building safety.

The insurance commissioner sets insurance rates for automobile, homeowner, life and health insurance, but the job's duties include the State Fire Marshal's job and Goodwin said his experience in that area also makes him the best candidate.

"As assistant fire marshal, I visited over 200 fire departments. I want to continue giving firefighters and all first responders a stronger voice in state government."

Goodwin's wife is state Rep. Melanie Wade Goodwin. A Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he holds a bachelor's degree in political science with honors and is a graduate of the UNC School of Law.

Goodwin said he doesn't accept money from special interest groups. He running a publicly funded campaign.