Steen to announce bid for Congress

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 7, 2011

By Karissa Minn
LANDIS — N.C. Rep. Fred Steen says he wants to bring a local voice to a national stage next year by running for Congress.
Steen plans to announce his candidacy for the 8th District Congressional seat at 10 a.m. Thursday in front of the Landis Town Hall.
The event is open to the public, and more than 20 state and local elected officials are expected to attend.
Steen, a cost analyst and consultant, lives in Landis and served five terms as the town’s mayor from 1995 to 2004.
Since then, he has represented District 76, which includes southeastern Rowan County, in the N.C. House of Representatives.
Steen is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, a Democrat from Biscoe, for his seat in the U.S. House.
He said he is humbled by the support of local residents who have encouraged him to run for Congress.
“I’m going up there to represent them, and I’m going to be their voice like I’ve been in the State House,” Steen said.
Steen said he sat back as long as he could, but he’s so frustrated that he feels like a member of the “Fed Up” party.
“Our country is on the brink of financial default,” Steen said. “I’m just afraid that we’re going in the wrong direction.”
He said he wants to decrease the national debt with responsible spending, repeal President Barack Obama’s health care reform law, promote states’ rights and secure the country’s southern border.
Businesses are overburdened with government regulations, Steen said, and lightening that burden will help them add jobs.
“I think these bailouts are just a waste of time,” Steen said. “The private sector has to be part of the solution. In short, the government needs to get out of the way.”
He said he will stay in his state office throughout his campaign and continue his duties as a legislator.
Steen is entering a crowded race for the 8th District seat.
In the Republican primary, he will face five other announced candidates — Dan Barry, mayor pro tem of Weddington; Richard Hudson, a Concord business consultant; former Iredell County Commissioner Scott Keadle; former Winston-Salem City Council member Vernon Robinson; and John Whitley, a Fairmont neurosurgeon.
“I think that it’s time for us to have local people running for office,” Steen said. “I’ve lived in this district, I’ve worked in this district and I know the people in this district.”
New district boundaries have expanded the 8th District into southern and eastern Rowan County.
Political analysts expect legal challenges of the new maps, which were drawn this year by the N.C. General Assembly and given preclearance by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Steen said he doesn’t want to run for election in a district where he doesn’t live, but he thinks the current boundaries will hold up.
“It’s a risk you’ve got to take every time there’s redistricting,” Steen said. “I’m confident that we’ll be moving forward with the primaries next year in our new districts.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.