03/18/08 — Senate candidate Patricia Oliver puts education at top of her agenda

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Senate candidate Patricia Oliver puts education at top of her agenda

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on March 18, 2008 1:45 PM

Running with an eye toward helping to fix some of the areas that she sees the state failing in, Patricia Oliver is hoping to gain the Democratic nomination for the North Carolina Senate District 12 seat during the May 6 primary.

Topping her list of concerns is education.

"I had some young people come to see me with their high school diplomas and they could not even read their names on them," Mrs. Oliver said. "They said, 'We can't read and write. Why can't we read and write?'"

It's a problem, she said, that's made even more glaring by the amount of money being spent in Johnston County and across the state on new facilities.

And, she continued, it's a problem that if corrected, could provide the foundation for improving other areas of the state, including its welfare programs and its economic development efforts.

"If they could read and write, they could be self-supporting," she said.

In terms of welfare, though acknowledging that many programs are mandated by the federal government, she believes there is plenty of room for improvement on the state level.

In particular, she believes more assistance needs to be given to the elderly and less to single young mothers.

"We're not doing enough for the elderly and we're doing too much for the younger generations. I want to ask the American people, is this fair? People are upset about it. I work for a living," she said. "I've never had food stamps or welfare. And we were poor (growing up). I was raised on a sharecropper's farm. We were poor and cold.

"But my mother and father made do, and it's time now for us (and the federal government) to look at this. We cannot keep giving money away. I've got a six-year plan for welfare and food stamps, and if I get elected I'm going to bring it before the Senate."

At the bottom of the issue, though, is education.

"They've got to get out and work, and they've got have an education so they can get out and work," she said.

But in order to get them to work, there have to be jobs.

"I believe we need to get industry into North Carolina, but I don't believe we need to give away all our taxes to get them," she said. "We can give them other stuff -- lots of other stuff, and they'll be happy. Like educating our children."

All, she said, are issues and concerns she believes are shared throughout the district.

"What I'm doing is talking to voters here in this county and in Wayne County, and they're telling me what they're concerned about and I'm taking their concerns seriously," Mrs. Oliver said. "I'm going to look after both of them. I'm going to look after all my constituents. I'm running on the Democratic ticket, but I'm really running for all the citizens."

More important, she's running because she wants to make a difference.

"You have to be dedicated. It's not the money," she said. "I want to give something back to the county I live in."

And, Mrs. Oliver added, after spending most of her adult life in business -- currently as the president and chairwoman of Around the Clock Plumbing in Selma -- she's ready to do something different.

Mrs. Oliver will be running against Kay Carroll, also of Johnston County, for the Democratic nomination.