36th District N.C. Senate candidates have similar goals

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 29, 2008

By Hugh Fisher
The election for the 36th District N.C. Senate seat matches two candidates with different political backgrounds but similar goals for the state.
Harrisburg Democrat Charles “Chuck” Paxton faces incumbent Republican Sen. Fletcher Hartsell in Tuesday’s election.
Paxton was chosen by Cabarrus County Democrats to replace local attorney Jim Johnson, who died Sept. 21. But Johnson’s name remains on all ballots, so a vote for Johnson is a vote for Paxton.
Both candidates support natural gas exploration off the coast of North Carolina, and both claim a desire to protect the environment while reducing dependence on foreign oil.
“We can’t drill our way out of this situation,” Paxton said. “We’re going to have to develop alternative sources of energy. We’re going to have to make certain investments in wind power and natural gas exploration.”
Paxton also mentioned looking into wind turbines for electricity generation. “We’ve got to take some of the demand for gasoline,” he said. “Anything we can do at the state level will be critical.”
“Conservation and alternative energy sources, including hydrogen, wind, solar and biomass, will also move us to a less oil-dependent, more sustainable, ‘green-based’ economy,” Hartsell said.
The two men differ in background and experience.
Hartsell, 61, is seeking his ninth term in office. He is an attorney with Hartsell and Williams, P.A. in Concord.
One of the senior Republicans in the N.C. Senate, Hartsell is vice chairman of the Finance Committee and a member of the Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources and the Education/Higher Education committees, among others.
Paxton, 54, owns Carolina Homes and Land Realty. This is his second run for the N.C. Senate; in 1986, Jim Johnson, then a Republican state senator, defeated Paxton.
If elected, Paxton said he will work to create jobs and stabilize the housing market.
“I have a bill that would stabilize neighborhoods, which would get us on a firmer footing and would build equity in individual housing,” he said.
He said the $700 billion federal bailout helped Wall Street but only “solved half the problem.”
“The problem is the property values are not as high as the tax values,” Paxton said.
His solution: have the state buy foreclosed homes to stabilize falling prices.
“The equity that individual owners have in their homes will start to increase again instead of decline,” Paxton said. “That’s the first step. I know it’s a complex issue. But the simple answer is we need to stabilize our neighborhoods.”
Hartsell said he would restore confidence in the financial system by “returning to the fundamentals of good banking practices.”
He favors penalties for fraudulent financial institutions and a lease-purchase plan to promote homeowner equity.
Hartsell has also been a staunch supporter of the Research Campus in Kannapolis.
If elected, he promises to “continue to champion the Research Campus, assuring that it retains the state support needed to bring new jobs and opportunity to our region.”Taxes are another hot issue in this election but also an area where the candidates hold similar positions.
“State tax cuts on small businesses will stimulate our economy with new job growth,” Hartsell said.
“We must also reduce or eliminate nonessential, noncritical, nonperforming state services and use existing resources as effectively and efficiently as possible,” Hartsell said.
With regard to taxes, Paxton said, “We must put all issues on the table.”
“The only thing I am not going to do is increase taxes,” Paxton said. “If we have to lower the corporate tax rate to increase industry, that may be something that we should or may have to do.”