02/08/10 — Former legislator to challenge for House seat

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Former legislator to challenge for House seat

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 8, 2010 1:46 PM

Stephen LaRoque

Stephen LaRoque announced Friday he will be running, once again, for the Republican nomination for the state House District 10 seat.

LaRoque, who held the seat for four years, winning elections in 2000 and 2004, has lost his last two bids to regain it -- losing to Willie Ray Starling of Wayne County in the Republican primary in 2006, and losing to fellow Lenoir County resident Democrat Rep. Van Braxton in 2008.

This year, however, the 46-year-old Kinston resident believes the result will turn out differently.

LaRoque explained that he thinks his loss in 2008 was largely because Braxton was able to ride President Barack Obama's coattails, winning by only 941 votes out of more than 30,000 cast.

Now, he said, not only will Braxton not have that to fall back on, he will also have to explain why the state raised taxes during a recession.

"In the four years I've been gone, the liberal majority -- the Democrats -- have decided to raise taxes a number of times during what some called the worst recession since the Great Depression," he said. "The first thing I would do is vote to roll back the taxes that my opponent and the liberal majority voted in."

Next, he said, "we need to reduce our spending. When the money stops runs out, you stop spending. We've maxed out the credit cards, so to speak."

He also said that if elected he would focus on education and lowering the 30 percent dropout rate, as well as cutting an education system "bloated" with administrators.

"We need to take a scalpel and a hatchet and cut out some of the school administrators at DPI (state Department of Public Instruction)," he said.

Additionally, he added, he would make job creation, infrastructure improvements and property rights all priorities -- subjects he is familiar with through his position as president of East Carolina Development Co. and Piedmont Development, Co.

"We've got to make North Carolina more business friendly," he said, calling for cuts in both the corporate and personal income tax rates.

In terms of property rights, he called forced annexation, "the scourge of North Carolina," to be ended and for the current laws to be changed -- a position he accused Braxton of opposing when he voted for annexation as a member of the Kinston City Council and when he ignored a resolution by Lenoir County Commissioners asking for permission to oversee annexations.

And at the end of the day, LaRoque said he believes it's his reputation as a common sense conservative that will propel him to victory.

"I know constituents want a representative who is one of the most effective members in the North Carolina House, and not one who has been rated one of the 10 least effective members out of all the House Democrats," he said. "We're going to be running on a common sense, conservative agenda, and I believe that for conservatives, especially common sense conservatives, it looks like a good year."

The district covers part of Wayne, all of Greene and most of Lenoir counties.