The Nov. 6 General Election is just around the corner and candidates for the U.S. congressional race to represent District 8, which includes Richmond County, are gearing up their campaigns.
The Daily Journal sent out a candidate questionnaire to all candidates who will appear on the November ballot in contested races, and asked that three questions be answered and the survey returned within a week. Candidates also had the chance to submit an optional 50-word personal statement.
The congressional candidates that will appear on the ballot are incumbent Democrat Larry Kissell, write-in Democrat Antonio Blue and Republican Richard Hudson.
Kissell grew up in Biscoe, where he still lives today. He attended both Biscoe Elementary School and East Montgomery High School, where after a 27-year career in the local textile industry, he taught for the seven years prior to entering Congress.
Blue is a native of Hamlet, and a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, serving 24 years. He is mayor of Dobbins Heights. Active on the local and state level, Blue is president of the N.C. Black Elected Municipal Officials, and serves on the Richmond County Arts Council Board of Directors and the Richmond County Economic Development Council. He is the former Richmond County Democratic Party chair, where he served until announcing his candidacy for Congress.
Hudson was born in Franklin, Virginia, on Nov. 4, 1971. He now lives in Concord, N.C. Hudson is the owner of Cabarrus Marketing Group, which provides marketing, strategic communications consulting and business development services to small businesses. His background also includes extensive public service.
The following are the questions and the candidate responses:
Congress is called “broken” by many. How would you break the partisan gridlock?
Kissell said, “I blocked the Congressional pay raise, and I’ve sponsored the bill that says members of Congress shouldn’t get paid if they can’t get their act together and pass a budget. I believe that no one single party has a monopoly on good ideas. I have and will continue to work with folks on both sides of the aisle to find solutions to put people back to work and make government work for the people, not against them. I’ll continue to put people above politics and do what’s right for the people of our district.”
Blue said, “First, I would extend the olive branch to my Republican colleagues. I would then find out what it would take — within reason — to come to a happy medium to move this country forward and work toward that end.”
Hudson said, “We have serious problems that need to be addressed and yet, Republicans and Democrats won’t talk to each other. We need to put our country first. That includes working across the aisle to cut spending, creating an environment where small businesses can thrive, and getting people back to work. We need to elect leaders who value honesty and integrity more than party affiliation.”
What is your personal motivation for running for office?
Kissell said, “I worked in textiles for 27 years before becoming a school teacher. I ran because our Congressman at the time was putting his party’s politics above the people. I have work left to do, fighting bad trade deals, protecting our seniors and veterans and preserving Social Security and Medicare for all Americans. I’ll continue to keep my word and maintain my independence from partisan politics.”
Blue said, “The current congressman of the 8th District waited strategically until 19 weeks before the general election to announce he would not support the top of the ticket, which is the President of the United States. He also said he would vote to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act (which he did), although he has health care that the taxpayers of the 8th District pay for. Voters need a true Democrat that cares about the welfare of the people of the 8th District; a district that has the highest unemployment in the state and is economically distressed.”
Hudson said, “I never planned to run for office, but I got to the point that I was so fed up with what was going on in Washington that I had to try and do something to help change the direction of our country. I’m from here, I understand this district very well, and I know how to be a good advocate for our values in Washington. I want to help lead our state, and our country, to a more prosperous future.”
In your next term (or first term), if you could only have one goal, what would that goal be and how would you go about it?
Kissell said, “I’ll continue to fight to repeal NAFTA and all bad trade deals that have ravaged our local economy. We need trade policy that works for American businesses, not ship our jobs off to China. When we get our trade imbalance corrected, we’ll see good jobs return and local businesses expand. That’s why I fight every single day for what the people here at home want.”
Blue said, “My one goal would be to bring jobs and economic development into the 8th District. I would work toward securing federal dollars and incentives for potential employers that hire permanent employees and displaced workers.”
Hudson said, “North Carolina has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. We have to return jobs to our state. Government can’t create jobs, but government policies can stop job growth. I want to create an environment in which we can unleash the ingenuity of our people and that means cutting the excessive government regulations and letting small businesses take the necessary risks in order to expand. I believe that small business growth is the key to an economic turnaround starting right here in Richmond County.”
Kissell said, “I’ve been an independent voice for the people of this district, and I’m committed to doing what’s right for the people I’m blessed to represent. I’ll continue to work to preserve the American Dream and get government off our backs and out of the way of small businesses.”
Blue said, “I urge citizens to vote for a true Democrat and public servant. I served 24 years in the U.S. Army; served as mayor of Dobbins Heights since 2007, securing $1.7 million for infrastructure, housing rehabilitation and a new community center; and served three years as the local Democratic Party chair.”
Hudson said, “This election is about people. People in Richmond County and all across North Carolina who are struggling to get by. You can trust that when I get to Washington I will always tell you the truth. You deserve that, and that’s what you’ll get with me. It’s time for us to stand together and work for a better future.”
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.