Name: state Rep. Sam Watford (Republican)
Occupation: General contractor, owner of Watford Construction Company
District: Davidson County
Lives in: outside of Thomasville
From: outside of Thomasville
Family: wife Karen (retired high school English teacher), two adult daughters.
Campaign website: http://samwatford.com/
Hobbies: Has a private pilot license, enjoys flying when he has spare time.
Previous elected offices, if any: Davidson County Commission (including chair), from 2002 to 2014.
Why did you run for office? “The opportunity arose and I had been a commissioner for several years. I had an interest in it … and I felt that I’m qualified.”
What do you think will be the biggest issue at the legislature this year? Medicaid’s effect on the budget.
“I never have liked the idea of anything not being budgeted,” Watford said. “How can you possibly operate state government [with budget items] that’s out of control as Medicaid used to be?”
What’s one specific campaign promise that you’d like to deliver on? Doesn’t have one. “I’m not a single issue candidate.” He hopes to work on issues affecting the state’s building code and construction industries, in addition to other policy issues.
Do you think the state should expand the Medicaid program? Why or why not? Doesn’t favor expansion, but says he may change mind in future.
“My initial reaction [was] that I couldn’t see not taking the federal dollars” to help the state’s health care community as well as those that needed access to insurance, Watford said. “That’s been two years ago, I’ve changed a bit and can see both sides. I could probably go either way.”
Watford sees the benefit of expanding Medicaid to help people, but has concerns about how the state could afford to do that when the program routinely experiences cost overruns.
“It goes back to the same thing, I can’t see expanding Medicaid until the program is under control,” he said.
How do you feel about the state’s minimum wage ($7.25 an hour)? Should it be raised? Not in favor of raising it.
“I haven’t worked anyone in my whole career at minimum wage except for some high school kids,” Watford said.
He believes that the market takes care of the inequities, and that employers should be able to pay low-skilled, younger workers minimum wages, while older, more skilled workers should be able to find higher wages.
Is the state’s funding for public education enough? Funding should increase with state growth. “There’s always a demand for more money in public education, that’s always going to be the case. As the state grows, it will be increased.”
What leader do you look up to the most? Why? “I’m going to give the standard Republican answer, Ronald Reagan. I liked the way he did things, he was a true leader.”
Name your pet peeve: Doesn’t have one “that I’d want to make public.”