Elect 2012: Battermann and Warren debate
By Shavone Potts
SALISBURY - The closing of the state House District 77 forum at Catawba College became heated when Rep. Harry Warren said he took offense to opponent Bill Battermann's "Better Man" campaign slogan.
Much of the forum, which lasted 45 minutes, was amiable, with both Battermann and Warren providing their stance on education, job creation and improving the lives of Rowan County residents, until the last question. The forum was held at the Tom Smith Auditorium inside the Ketner Building. It was the second question and answer session of the night.
Moderator Dr. Michael Bitzer asked what three qualities the men possessed that made them stand out from their opponent?
Battermann said he listens to people, garners multiple opinions and changes himself to the needs of the group. He said he also develops leadership qualities in others and helps every person reach their full capacity.
"I care for others," Battermann said.
Warren said he didn't change himself to suit the audience. It shows trust when you are consistent.
He said his life, work experience and education prepared him for the position. Warren received a political science degree from Kent State University.
"I did not run for office because I'm retired and I needed something to do," Warren said.
He said he gave up his job in order to pursue public office. Warren worked as a field marketing manager for Tar Heel Capital Corp., one of the largest Wendy's franchises in the brand.
Warren added he "wouldn't be so presumptive as to qualify himself as the better man."
In his closing statement, Battermann said his campaign slogan wasn't meant to offend. He was merely saying he was the better man for the district not a better man than Warren.
Battermann said he's had 43 years of business experience and being a Lutheran minister qualified him with such experience. He said he wasn't running because he was retired and didn't have things to do. In 2011, Battermann retired from ministering at Gloria Dei Lutheran in Salisbury. He is currently an adjunct professor at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College where he teaches philosophy. He's also periodically taught at Catawba College.
Battermann said the reason chose to run for office was because of a woman he met while in the commmunity who told him she was not voting, "because it did not matter."
"I think it matters," Battermann said.
Rising tuition costs
Bitzer asked each candidate their stance on mounting tuition costs for colleges and universities and how it could put higher education out of reach for many residents.
Battermann said as an instructor at a community college he knows students who would like to attend a four-year university.
"It should be open to all who have a mandate to go," he said. "Raising tuition would make a bad situation worse."
He said during his opening statement that a strong education system is needed. That would lead to jobs and make the county look promising in the eyes of companies choosing to establish a business in the area.
Warren said he'd look at universities' expenditures and see where savings could be made.
He detailed the forgivable education loan program that was established during his term in the legislature. The program provides financial assistance to students who commit themselves to working in this state in fields designated as critical employment shortage areas.
"We've gotten rid of religion and morality. There are many problems that would be addressed by bringing back religion and morality in education," Warren said.
Battermann said education is his top priority, and mental health is right behind that. He was the former vice president for the Rowan County Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
He also said the legislature should "look at its own back yard for cuts."
Battermann said he didn't see the need for Capitol police, legislative police and the regular Raleigh police.
He said there are left-wingers and right-wingers, but he's the man that just wants to get the plane off the ground.
Battermann said the balancing of the budget should not be done on the backs of the public sector.
Warren said he's proud that in the two years he's been in office he has maintained contact with the community. He said people are surprised to know he answers some late night the phone calls that come through at his Raleigh office and he responds to emails. Warren has held regular town hall meetings and writes a weekly newsletter.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.