Though their names are similar, state Senate District 25 candidates Gene McLaurin and Gene McIntyre say that they have very different plans for bringing economic recovery to North Carolina.
McIntyre, a Republican, currently serves on the board of commissioners in Stanly County, where he worked in education for 33 years as a teacher and assistant principal.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University, McIntyre went on to receive a master’s in education from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
“I believe in family values and the right to life. I believe in the constitution,” McIntyre said recently, touting an endorsement from the National Rifle Association based on his support of second amendment rights.
Working from five-point plan for economic recovery, McIntyre believes that there are some important steps that must be taken to create an environment for job growth.
“We need regulatory reform, lower taxes, education reform and lower taxes,” McIntyre said, mentioning lower taxes twice to highlight the importance of reducing the state’s tax burden.
“Senators do not create jobs,” McIntyre said, contrasting himself with McLaurin, whom he says believes that the government can create meaningful job growth.
“The government’s responsibility is to create an environment favorable to business growth,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre has also acknowledged that economic incentives offered to companies are “almost a must” but that they “must always be tied to performance.”
A former educator, McIntyre has said that he would expand vocational training in the state “for high schoolers that want to go straight into the workforce.”
As the mayor of Rockingham and as president of the Swink-Quality Oil Company, McLaurin has trumpeted his experience in both the public and private sectors as experience that North Carolina politics is in need of.
McLaurin studied at both Richmond Technical Community College (now RCC) and at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
“The public and the private sector need to work together, and I am qualified to help,” McLaurin said. “And I am a business man, I know what it means to create jobs.”
In his campaigning, McLaurin has chosen to highlight three main issues that he seek to address as a state senator.
“The most important of all is jobs, and I have specific plans to create jobs,” McLaurin said. “Second, education is the backbone of our economy, and a priority.”
As his third issue, McLaurin said that, if elected, he would seek to legislate with “openness and transparency.”
Among McLaurin’s specific plans to revitalize the economy is what he calls the “North Carolina First” initiative, which would require the state government to give priority to in-state firms for projects paid for by tax payers.
“North Carolina companies should get the first shot at those contracts,” McLaurin said, claiming that the $3 billion spent yearly on state contracts would help turn around the economy.
McLaurin would also incentivize the hiring of North Carolinians.
“We would offer ‘Made in North Carolina’ incentives … (and) we would offer incentives to companies to hire people that live in North Carolina,” McLaurin said.
On education, McLaurin has said that he believes that it is possible to full fund education and grow the economy.
“We will find the savings elsewhere and through loopholes” McLaurin said, citing the example of former NC Gov. Terry Sanford.
“In tough times (Sanford) did not cut, they invested in education,” McLaurin said.
Criticizing McLaurin’s plan as unfeasible, McIntyre said that “words like ‘investment’ actually mean higher taxes.”
“Loopholes won’t be enough savings to avoid cuts,” McIntyre said.
Both candidates have said that they would be hesitant to assist in the elimination of Scotland County’s school funding formula, known as the “school floor.”
While calling the county’s school funding rate “atrocious,” he said that he would need to “do the research and get all the facts before sitting down with both board chairs and finding the solution that is the best interest of the children and the county.”
McLaurin said that he did not believe it was his place to be involved, but that he would act if approached by both the Board of Commissioners and the School Board.
“I have had a lot of experience solving problems with opposing sides, it’s just a matter of finding common ground,” McLaurin said.