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 [email protected].
Name: state Rep. George Graham Jr., Democrat
Occupation: retired state government worker, in N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and community college system. Also volunteers and does contract work with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).
Lives in: Kinston
Family: wife Jimmette and four grown children
Hobbies: An avid fisherman, prefers salt-water over fresh-water fishing.
Previous elected offices: served on the Lenoir County Commission for 30 years
Why’d you run for office? “I would have run before, but we were being served by Rep. William Wainwright. He was doing an excellent job, and I didn’t want to run against him. When he passed in July, I was asked by several individuals if I would consider running.”
What are the major challenges you’re anticipating this session?
“Well, it’s going to be an intense session. At the end of the day, the Republican Party has the votes to capture anything they want. It will be interesting and a learning experience and hopefully I’ll be able to represent and be a voice for Eastern North Carolina.”
What is one specific issue that you’ think needs addressing?
“I’m not going in there with an agenda. There are things that interest me – community college, education, elderly care, jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs and job training. Individually, I don’t think you can do a lot. But collectively, you can be effective.”
How do you feel about:
- Voter ID? Not in favor.
- Medicaid expansion? In favor. “I’m a senior citizen. We really need to do some work for our elderly when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid. “
- North Carolina’s public schools: “We go absolutely nowhere without a good solid strong education system, from the higher level down to the lower level. If we’re going to grow North Carolina, we have to pay attention to what’s happening in our schools and to our young people.”
- Immigration: “I see that as a federal issue. We’ve got enough to say grace over.”
What historical or other figures have influenced your politics?
W.E. Dubois, Frederick Douglass, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy.
How do you describe your politics?
Tell us something that most people don’t know about you
Was the school’s drum major for 3.5 years when he attended Fayetteville State University. Only went to N.C. public universities for his education: undergraduate (Fayetteville State University), masters (N.C. Central University) and additional post-graduate work in education (N.C. State University).