Published 12:00 am Friday, January 10, 2014

SALISBURY — Richmond County native Tom McInnis announced Thursday he will run for the 25th State Senate District.

McInnis, a Republican, stopped in Salisbury as he toured the district’s county seats and answered reporters’ questions on the steps of the Rowan County administration building. The 59-year-old businessman will challenge for Democrat Sen. Gene McLaurin’s seat.

“I believe we’ve got to have a senator from the 25th district who will provide bold, aggressive and visionary leadership in the General Assembly,” McInnis said Thursday. “If elected, I’ll do that.”

As a sitting Richmond County school board member since 2006, McInnis said his focus is on education, specifically creating better career paths for high school and college students and using improved curricular tracts to boost job creation.

He also hopes to fix rising tuition prices.

“We’re paying twice as much. We’re receiving the same results,” McInnis said. “We’re not doing something right. Something has to be changed.”

A partner in the firm Iron Horse Auction Company, McInnis spoke about the red tape he often runs into.

He said he hopes to work with other lawmakers to make the state more friendly to rural and small businesses.

But McInnis didn’t stray long at any one time from his passion: bettering education.

One way he hopes to see local school systems improve is through more autonomy at the local level.

“We need the ability to make local decisions for local schools,” McInnis said, using the sometimes rigid academic calendar as an example.

McInnis has one daughter, two grandchildren and is married to his new bride, Janice.

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.