If elected governor, Walton Dalton said he would work to increase both job and educational opportunities for hard-hit counties like Scotland.
Dalton, the current lieutenant governor, made a stop in Laurinburg Thursday afternoon to talk about the campaign and his vision for North Carolina. He was accompanied by his wife Lucille Dalton.
In an interview with The Laurinburg Exchange, Dalton said an improved economy and better jobs are tied to a commitment to education.
“Investing in education is an investment in our future,” the 62 year old said.
Dalton also talked about his push to create the Joining Our Business and Schools Commission, which partners businesses and schools to retool education programs to better fit an changing job market. The program has been nationally recognized.
“When new companies relocate or expand in North Carolina, one of the top reasons they give is our superior educational environment,” he said.
He added that Republicans efforts to cuts teacher jobs, financial aid and programs like early childhood programs, have put the state on “the wrong path.”
Dalton also is an opponent of Amendment One, a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. He said the constitutional amendment could hurt the recruitment of business to the state.
“Why are we talking about a divisive social issue when Republicans said they were coming to Raleigh to work on jobs,” Dalton said.
Race for governor
There are a total of 13 candidates are running for governor. Gov. Bev Perdue decided not to run for re-election this year.
In the Democratic primary, Dalton will face former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge, state Rep. Bill Faison of Efland, Gary Dunn of Matthews, Buies Creek doctor Bruce Blackmon and retired state auditor Gardenia Henley of Winston-Salem.
Republican contenders include former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, Jim Harney of Fayetteville, Scott Jones of Greensboro, businessman Jim Mahan of Denver, Charles Kenneth Moss of Randleman and former Superior Court judge Paul Wright of Dudley.
Oxford resident Barbara Howe, chair of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina, is also running for governor.
Dalton said he was leading in the polls and touted a number of endorsements that he had received from newspapers like The Charlotte Observer.
Dalton cited former Democrat Gov. Terry Sanford, a Laurinburg native, as an example of the kind of governor he planned to be.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am to be in the hometown of Terry Sanford,” Dalton said. “I admired Terry Sanford in that he embraced every faction of the population — whether working families or our most gifted students.”
Dalton, a native of Rutherfordton in Western North Carolina, was a managing partner of a law firm, and served as county attorney for two decades.
Before being elected lieutenant governor in 2008, Dalton served six times on the state Senate. He said that he and Sen. Bill Purcell of Laurinburg came to the General Assembly at about the same time.
“We’re going to miss Bill,” Dalton said of Purcell, who is not running for re-election. “He has done a lot for his district and a lot for this state. I consider him a good friend.”
In the Senate, Walter rose to lead the Education Committee, where he spearheaded efforts to raise teacher standards and pay, reduce class sizes, and increase accountability.
He said also pushed to improve STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to give North Carolina a competitive edge in the global economy, strengthen character education and school safety programs, and fought for more funding for community colleges and universities.