Editor’s note: 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. The 2015 session of the legislature gets underway January 14, 2015.
Name: state Sen. Tom McInnis
Political Party: Republican
Occupation: auctioneer, real estate broker, automobile dealer and owner of Iron Horse Auction Company
Lives : outside of Ellerbe, N.C.
From: Richmond County
District: Includes parts of Anson, Richmond, Rowan, Scotland, and Stanly counties
Family: wife Janice, three grown children (one deceased), eight grandchildren
Hobbies: enjoys outdoor sports like shooting, fishing, hunting as well as fundraising work for local charities
Previous elected offices, if any: Yes, served on Richmond County Board of Education, from 2006 to 2014.
Why did you run for office? “As a member of the school board, I could see that the problems we were having in our local schools, a lot of them came from decisions that were made and not made by the General Assembly in Raleigh, as well as the U.S. Congress in Washington.”
McInnis also feels that “rural areas in North Carolina needed a voice.”
What do you think will be the biggest issue at the legislature this year? Education and jobs.
What’s one specific campaign promise you want to deliver on? “To be able to bring more resources and more variety of educational offerings to the rural schools of North Carolina.” McInnis favors increasing dual enrollment programs in the state, where students take classes that partner with community colleges as a way of offering vocational career paths.
Do you think the state should expand the Medicaid program? Not now. “Not until such time until we get our arms around the current Medicaid program should we consider expanding it.”
How do you feel about the state’s minimum wage? “It’s a federal issue.” Should it be raised? No.
Is the state’s funding for public education enough? “The state funding for public education is sufficient in some areas. The challenge is that education in North Carolina is neither equal nor free. What is needed in Richmond County in entirely different from what is needed in Wake County. They’re able to pay teachers more.” McInnis wants to see education funding changed so that rural areas are able to get the same levels of funding as urban districts.
How would you describe your politics? Fiscal conservative
What leader do you look up to the most? Why? “[Former U.S. President] Ronald Reagan showed American that we’re still the shining city of the hill. His leadership made people understand that this is the greatest country in the world and we need to be proud of it.”
Name your pet peeve: “My pet peeve is that in both Washington and Raleigh, we have given knee jerk reactions to problems that have created bigger problems that create unintentional consequences. When we create a new law, we need to understand what will be the end result to the masses.”
Contact information: Tom.McInnis@ncleg.net