Greensboro developer touts work experience in Congressional bid

Published 12:10 am Friday, May 13, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

SALISBURY — Bob Isner, a Greensboro developer, says he’s never run for anything in his life. Now, he’s running for North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District seat and sees his private-sector experience as an asset.

Isner, a 64-year-old Democrat, has operated his own construction company since 1983. In 2001, Isner said he began working to develop downtown Greensboro. Isner has a bachelor’s degree from Davidson College and a master’s degree in civil engineering from North Carolina State University.

In the field of five Democrats vying for the 13th District, Isner says his experience would be unique in Congress. He places job growth as the top issue in the 13th District.

“I think what I bring to the table is a wealth of experience in the private sector solving problems,” he said. “Basically, when I say I’m for economic growth, I’ve been a big part of economic growth … I hate to throw clichés out there, but I’ve kind of lived what I believe rather than just talking about what I believe.”

Isner said he’s willing to work with Republicans and Democrats, and isn’t driven by a particular political ideology.

“Is it a better background than being a politician? I think so,” Isner said about his work experience. “I mean, I really don’t feel like politicians get a whole lot of stuff done.”

When talking about economic growth, Isner said government can and should create a business-friendly community through smart policy decisions about infrastructure and urban planning.

Isner mentioned infrastructure as a topic he feels uniquely qualified to talk about. In an interview, he spoke about the importance of infrastructure in improving a local economy. Boosting funding levels for infrastructure projects is one solution, he said.

“We’re not spending nearly enough to keep up with the deterioration of our infrastructure,” he said.

However, it’s not only about money. Narrowly targeted infrastructure investments can jump start growth, he said.

“It can be a catalyst,” he said. “It not about just throwing money at things.”

Eliminating bad regulation can also create a business-friendly environment, he said.

“I think there’s a lot of undue regulation on businesses,” he said. “Now, I’m not anti-regulation, but there’s good regulation and bad regulation, and a lot of it is so complicated that it hurts business people.”

A stop sign, he said, is an example of a good regulation. The reporting that’s required for government construction work, he said, is an example of bad regulation.

He said the Environmental Protection Agency “is not as intrusive as people say.” Because of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, Isner said America has made significant advances in improving the quality of the environment.

“We are not going back to the days when you could just spew pollution out, and that’s how I feel,” he said.

Immigration is another issue Isner said he has the experience to talk about. He said America should provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who have jobs and are contributing to society.

“I’m in construction. How many Mexicans do you think work on my job sites and how many Mexicans do you think work on every job site in North Carolina?” Isner asked. “They are supplying a labor niche in this country … They are part of the fabric of our society.”

If elected to the 13th District, Isner said he’ll work hard and be a productive member of Congress.

“I’m going to work for the people of this district and that’d be my No. 1 priority,” he said. “There some stupid stuff in Washington that’s not productive. How many times have the Republicans in the House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act? Fifty-five times, and they knew they never had a chance. What a waste of time and effort.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.