The Republican takeover of the N.C. legislature, the first time the GOP has led both houses since 1898, is a huge shift in power that's brought a lot of new faces, and people new to doing business on Jones Street. In what we hope is a regular feature this session, N.C. Policy Watch will try to talk with some of the newest members to offer a bit more insight on who they are and what they plan on doing this session in Raleigh. This will be an ongoing feature, with the goal of profiling all the new members. Haven't been contacted for your profile yet? New legislators can contact reporter Sarah Ovaska at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Name: Rep. Jeff Collins
Hometown: Rocky Mount (represents Nash County)
Family: Wife Ethel, who goes by "Beanie" (works as a bookkeeper with Collins' business and cares for Collins' legally-blind mother); three grown children; three grandchildren.
Profession: financial consultant at AXA Advisors.
Education: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, bachelor's in 1978.
Previous political experience: No.
Campaign website: http://www.collinsforhouse.com/
Organizations: elder and founding member of Rocky Mount Bible Church, longtime member and active in local and state chapters of National Association of Insurance and Financial Analysts (NAIFA).
Biggest political influences: Ronald Reagan, Jesse Helms, and Jim Gardner, a former GOP Congressman and Lt. Governor from Rocky Mount.
Hobbies: Reading, playing golf and traveling.
Any pet peeves?: "I really hate, and this is going to sound pretty arrogant, but I hate being corrected about something factually that I'm right about. I hate being corrected when I'm correct."
How you plan on unwinding from the legislative grind? "Spending as much time as I can with my wife, children and grandchildren as possible. That's my release."
Why'd you run?: "That's a long story, I was recruited to run but the reason I said was was a conversation my wife and I were having last year (about retirement). I got looking at where I might want to retire based totally on taxes and if it were based on taxes, I'd never retire in North Carolina. I've live in North Carolina all my life, I love North Carolina. We're chasing people out of North Carolina right and left because of our taxes. It finally got to a point that I said I'm not going to get the powers-that-be chase me out of North Carolina, I'm going to jump into the fray and fix the problem. That was the deciding moment."
What are you expecting from this session? "Starting to reign in our state government to a more reasonable size."
What (policy-wise) keeps you up worrying at night, when it comes to state policy matters? "I tend to sleep pretty well, the thing that bothers me right now is that we've got to figure out how to cut $4 billion. It's not a situation I created, but it's a situation I was elected to solve . The fact that some state employees are going to have to become unemployed, that bothers me."
If you had only one victory this session, what would it be? "To balance our budget with spending cuts only, with no tax increase."
Contact: 1006 Legislative Building, (919) 733-5802, Jeff.Collins@ncleg.net.