N.C. Policy Watch is chatting with some of the newest members of the N.C. General Assembly 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 email@example.com .
Name: state Sen. Gene McLaurin , Democrat
Occupation: president of Swink-Quality Oil and Gas 
Lives in: Rockingham
Family: wife Donna, three grown children and a grandson
Hobbies: enjoys playing golf, spending time with family and reading
Previous elected offices, if any: Mayor of Rockingham from 1997 to 2012
Why’d you run for office? “I loved being mayor of my hometown. I enjoy public service, I enjoy helping people. “ Also, he’s the fourth generation in his family to hold a public office. “It’s in my blood.”
What are the major challenges this year? “We’ve got to get our economy back on track and create jobs for our citizens. That involved a lot of other issues, from tax reform to how we improve our education system. Job creation is priority one.”
What is one specific issue that you think needs addressing? “There are real opportunities to expand our partnerships between businesses and the public sector. To be solving problems, you’ve got to have the right people at the table.”
How do you feel about these issues?
- Voter ID? “I’m open to Voter ID if it can be implemented fairly and not disenfranchise groups of voters. Being able to vote is a right and I don’t want to put any obstacles in the way of people voting.”
- Medicaid expansion? Supported expansion. “I am convinced that we can help people and provide health care, it will save lives. The rural hospitals would at least be paid something” for care they provide to indigent patients.
- North Carolina’s public schools’ funding? Needs strong financial support. “I’m a believer in strong, good public schools. We have to have a system that allows teachers to teach. I’m in support of improving education, as far as funding. It’s key to our economic prosperity.”
- Tax reform? “It’s got to be prudent, it’s got to be fair and it’s got to be responsible. I look forward to working with both parties – it’s time to do something. Working families should not be the ones to shoulder the burden of tax reform.”
What historical or other figures have influenced your politics?
Former Gov. Jim Hunt, for leadership and willingness to develop new programs; President Ronald Reagan for communication style and ability to build consensus and former Gov. Terry Sanford for willingness to take stands on issues. (McLaurin has a photo of he and Sanford taken in the late 1980s hanging in his office.)
How do you describe your politics?
A “North Carolina regular”, moderate to conservative in his views. Takes pride that Rockingham didn’t raise taxes in 15 years he was mayor by expanding the tax base.
What’s something about you most people don’t know:
“I was married at 18, worked my way through college as a bartender and I’m still married 37 years later.” He attended community college near Rockingham, then transferred and graduated from UNC-Charlotte.
Contact information: (919) 733-5923 or Gene.McLaurin@ncleg.net