Grayson Parker admits to being a political outsider and at age 32, young.
But the Democratic candidate for U.S. House District 7 says he felt is was time to stand up and be counted.
"I have always been kind of a political junkie and followed the process," he said. "It was just the political environment in recent years that prompted me to step up and take a stand because I don't think enough young people are involved, and they kind of get disinterested in the process because all they hear is negativity and division.
"It is one of my goals to let people know you can stand up and make a stand for things that you care about. I felt like it was the time to do that with the current political state."
People are frustrated by the ultra-partisanship, he said.
"In my lifetime this is the most tribalistic I have seen the political environment," he said.
Parker, a Goldsboro businessman, will face Dr. Kyle Horton of Carolina Beach in the Tuesday, May 8, Democratic primary.
The winner will challenge incumbent Republican Rep. David Rouzer in the Tuesday, Nov. 6, general election.
A lifelong Democrat, Parker said he was attracted to the party because it is concerned with what is good for the whole and not that less government is better.
Government has something to offer the people, and the Democratic Party shares that value, he said.
"Sometimes all you hear from the other side is less government, less this, less, less," Parker said. "I think that government has a purpose to serve in people's lives and it can benefit us."
Parker said that most of his campaign outreach is digital because he wants to involve people who don't normally communicate through traditional channels.
He said the main thing he hears is how concerned people are about the direction the country is headed.
"They are just worried that things are headed down a dangerous path," he said. "One of my main issues, and I feel like it is creeping up and is going to be too big before we realize it, is economic injustice and the consolidation of wealth with the top earners versus everybody else.
"When that amount of money gets injected into the political process, the 99 percent's voice is not as loud as the money from the corporations and political action committees and those kind of things," he said.
Another concern is health care, he said.
"I don't think we should cut Medicaid at all, and I am really disappointed that North Carolina didn't expand," he said. "One of my goals is to lower the age of Medicaid to get more people on it. Maybe five or 10 years lower. My goal is for everyone to have access to affordable health care.
"My end goal being universal health care or Medicare and Medicaid for all. I think we should come at it from both sides -- bring that age down and increase access for younger people."
For example, for business owners like himself, Parker said the premiums are high with very high deductibles before the insurance covers anything. In those cases it makes more economic sense not to have insurance and hope he does not get sick.
But that is not a good way to approach health care, he said.
Labeling programs like Medicare and Social Security as entitlement programs is a way to make the programs look like handouts in order to justify cuts, he said.
They are not entitlements or handouts, but rather security programs so that people can have better lives, Parker said.
The current leaders have done a good job of selling their tax bill as everybody getting a great tax cut, he said.
"In reality, the top earners got 60 percent of it, and everybody else gets to split the other 40 percent," he said. "People are seeing $100 in their paycheck here and there. They have done a good job in marketing it that everyone is going to benefit from it."
However, those tax cuts expire for everybody except for the ones at the very top and the corporations.
"The wage gap is one of my biggest concerns because this country became great off of the middle class," Parker said. "We need to build from the middle out and the bottom up.
"When you rely on corporations to trickle down, and give them more money and tell everybody it is going back to higher wages and pay for the workers -- it really goes into stock buybacks to increase their market value, their price."
It does not trickle down to the people who really need it, and does not put money in their pockets, he said.
Everybody should pay their fair share, he said.
"This country and its freedom and its opportunities have allowed those people to make those large amounts of money," he said. "In a capitalistic society, that is your freedom and your right.
"If you have the opportunity to make all of that money, you have the responsibility to give back, to put money back into the system to create opportunities for everyone. I just feel like the higher earners should be paying their fair share."
The country needs to have a serious conversation about gun control, he said.
"Definitely something needs to be done," he said. "We have a problem that every other modern industrialized nation doesn't have. I definitely don't think the solution is not doing anything, which is currently what's happening. I don't want to take anyone's guns and that is what the other side tries to say, 'they are going to come and get your guns.'
"It has got to be a multi-prong approach -- mental health and universal background checks with no loopholes. You can't really say they are already in place when you can go to a gun show and you can just buy whatever you want, or buy it over the internet whatever you want. It is not really a universal background check as they say it."
Bump stocks are still legal and the same type of weapon is used in mass shootings and nothing has been done, Parker said.
If a weapon is designed for mass killing, someone is not going to be using it for hunting, he said.
"I am not saying I have all of the answers, but we need to start having that conversation and doing some action," he said. "If we don't do anything, the same thing is going to keep happening.
"It seems like we are only concerned about it when it happens and that week or so afterward and then it kind of goes off, something else happens, and the news cycle just keeps on rolling."
Opponents of gun control are using fear, not facts to drive the issue, he said.
"This whole administration has used fear to scare people, to divide different groups whether it be by gender, or race, or religion," he said. "That is one of my main missions for getting into the race, to take a stand and platform to promote unity and positivity.
"I think that even though we have different opinions and different solutions for things, I do think we share a lot. I think we have the same goals when it gets down to the base of everything. This current administration and Congress, they have used fear to play on each other and to get where they have gotten."
That tactic has been used on the immigration issue as well, he said.
Immigration is a complicated issue, and illegal immigration has been steady for years, Parker said.
But Parker said he does not think it is as big an issue as the Trump administration has made it out to be.
Parker said he thinks it is what the 2016 campaign was about.
"There are racist people out there," he said. "There are people who don't want to integrate with other races or genders or whatever it is, and I think they used that to get people out to vote. Now it has kind of snowballed and become a big issue now."
Trump's border wall is a terrible idea and a waste of money, he said.
From a political standpoint, it has played on people's fear that immigrants are coming to take their jobs, when in reality they are just coming here to seek a better life, he said.
"That is what this whole country is based on -- better yourself, work hard and get ahead. I am not saying we should just open the borders, and let everybody in. We need to do it from a pragmatic and step-by-step approach."
Those under the DACA program should be allowed to achieve citizenship through some process, through actionable steps that they can prove they are here and contributing, he said.
Early education, such as an expanded pre-K program, is another of Parker's top priorities.
It is something other industrialized nations are already doing, he said.
"It means their workforce in the future is going to be way ahead of our workforce," he said. "If we don't start doing it now, then 20 years from now we are going to see the repercussions of not doing that.
"Also, I think we should focus more on vocation and trades as far as programs like computer programming and robotics -- things that would prepare our workforce for the future."
When that happens industry will go to the countries that are prepared for those jobs -- opportunities the U.S. is going to miss out on, Parker said.
As for the military, Parker said he thinks the country can do a better job of taking care of its veterans.
"All of our veterans needed to be taken care of first because they are the ones that provide the opportunity for us to have our opportunities," he said. "As far as active duty, we already have the largest military budget in the world by a large margin.
"I think the way technology is, and the use of drones, we could maybe benefit by using some of that money, I am not saying cut the budget, but we could reallocate some of that money into other things that could help us like early education."
Parker said he is on board for talking about whatever the military needs.
"Our military comes foremost because, like I said, they are the ones who give us the opportunity to live the way that we live," he said.