Local neurosurgeon enters 8th District race
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — Dr. John Whitley, a neurosurgeon and Kannapolis native, said his passion for medicine has inspired him to run for Congressional office.
Whitley is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, a Democrat, for his 8th District seat. He now lives in the Robeson County town of Fairmont.
During a visit to the Salisbury Post on Tuesday, Whitley said he’s running in an effort to repeal the new health care reform law and start again from scratch.
“The passage of Obamacare, when you really realize what’s involved, is terrible for everybody,” he said. “It’s not this utopian, wonderful scheme that’s going to provide high quality health care to Americans. It’s going to do the exact opposite.”
Whitley said mandating people to buy insurance is unconstitutional, and he thinks many will pay the relatively small penalty until they need insurance — which they will be guaranteed to get. For the same reason, he said, more businesses may opt not to provide insurance for their employees.
He also said the law’s tax increases are unacceptable, its premium requirements are unfair to healthy people, its state insurance exchanges are too expensive, and its ban on coverage caps will bankrupt private insurance companies. He called the law a “job killer.”
As a doctor, Whitley said he doesn’t want the government telling him how to treat his patients, which he thinks it could do under the new law.
“I’d be just like anybody else sitting around moaning and groaning and complaining if I don’t do my part,’” he said. “After a lot of thought and soul searching, I decided to run for Congressional office.”
But Whitley said he’s not a one-issue candidate. He said he also cares about lowering the national debt, reining in spending, putting people back to work, loosening government regulations and promoting alternative energy.
“The current administration is taking us directly in the wrong direction,” Whitley said. “I believe we need to maximize our own natural resources to become as energy independent as we can.”
Whitley grew up in Kannapolis and graduated from A.L. Brown High School. His family has owned and operated Whitley’s Funeral Home since 1913.
Whitley earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a medical degree from Wake Forest University Bowman Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem. He has been a physician for more than 20 years and a neurosurgeon for 15 years.
Whitley is also a farmer who owns and operates All Creatures Animal Sanctuary. He said the sanctuary rescues a variety of animals including buffalo, horses, goats, cows, chickens, dogs and cats.
So far, Whitley will face three other announced candidates in the Republican primary — Dan Barry, mayor pro tempore of the Union County town of Weddington; former Iredell County Commissioner Scott Keadle; and former Winston-Salem City Council member Vernon Robinson.
The 8th District now includes parts of Cabarrus, Union and Mecklenburg counties and all of Stanly, Montgomery, Anson, Scotland and Richmond counties.
If the N.C. General Assembly’s new district map holds up, Whitley, Barry and Robinson — now a Concord resident — would live in the new 8th District beginning in January. Keadle still would not.
Under that map, the district would bring in parts of Rowan, Davidson and Randolph counties, all of Union County and parts of Robeson County. It would no longer include Hoke County or part of Cumberland County.
Political analysts have said the new Congressional district map is likely to be challenged in court. But Whitley said he doesn’t think it will change.
“I think this will pass muster with the civil rights voting laws out there,” Whitley said. “I think it’s going to stay exactly as it is.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
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