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Rep. Warren draws on decade of experience in state House for re-election campaign

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — As Rep. Harry Warren seeks his sixth term in the state House, he plans to use his 10 years of experience and status as a senior member to continue serving Rowan County.

Warren, a Republican, was elected to serve District 76, which includes Rowan County, in 2018. But he’s been a member of the House since 2010 and previously represented the 77th District. He’ll be challenged in the upcoming general election by former Salisbury Mayor and current Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins, who’s a Democrat.

Warren credits himself with maintaining a strong line of communication with local officials in Rowan County, adding that he frequently checks in with local leaders when making decisions on legislation. And his “excellent constituent service” has especially helped more than 50 people navigate the confusion surrounding unemployment benefits amidst the pandemic, he said.

Some of Warren’s most recent work, like many legislators, has focused on relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. He is a member of the N.C. House Select Committee on COVID-19, as well as the Economic Support Working Group within the committee. He sponsored a bill that provided limited immunity to businesses being held liable for the transmission of COVID-19, which was signed into law by the governor on July 7. He also helped to modify some requirements for obtaining unemployment insurance benefits for those unemployed due to the virus, as well as expand the benefits for self-employed workers who usually aren’t eligible.

Additionally, during his time as a state representative, Warren said he is proud to have brought hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund county infrastructure projects that had been lulled for years. He also sponsored legislation the governor signed into law in November that extended certain tax benefits and appropriated more funds to the state Department of Revenue.

His goal for Rowan County, if re-elected, is to focus on getting more money to fund the Community Care Clinic of Rowan, which helps indigent patients seeking care. Additionally, he aims for more funding for the western portion of the county, firefighters, various infrastructure projects in the county and the N.C. Transportation Museum.

“(The museum) is an economic engine for Spencer, East Spencer and Salisbury,” he said.

Additionally, one statewide measure Warren is interested in is determining a dependable, separate revenue stream for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, which is currently funded by the gasoline tax and other fees. But those funds will continue dissipating, he said, as electric cars continue to become more prevalent.

Campaigning has also looked different for Warren, but he notes unfinished business in the legislative session is more to blame than COVID-19. He has refrained from doing door-to-door visits, and has relied on more traditional ways to mobilize voters.

The North Carolina General Assembly recessed on July 8 and will reconvene on Sept. 2 and 3 to disperse remaining COVID-19 funds. Warren said long after the pandemic is over there will be some lingering issues, including education and health care. Discussion about both are likely to continue with virtual meetings. Therefore, expanding broadband is critical.

“It’s the only way we can facilitate remote school for students,” he said. “And without it, rural districts can’t compete for economic development.”

He noted that the state came into the pandemic with more than $1 billion in the Rainy Day Fund and into the 2020-21 budget cycle with a smaller revenue loss than expected, adding that North Carolina is “in a better shape than most states.” He credits the better-than-expected revenue loss to a series of conservative measures taken over the last decade.

Warren chairs multiple standing committees in the House, including the Finance and State and Local Government committees. He is the vice-chairman of the Elections and Ethics Law standing House committee.

He also serves in leadership positions in the Joint Legislative Elections Oversight committee, the Joint Legislative Committee on Local Government and the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Unemployment Insurance.

Warren earned his bachelor’s in political science from Kent State University. Before serving as a representative, he was a human resources specialist for Tar Heel Capital Corporation, which is one of the largest Wendy’s franchises in the brand and the largest in the Carolinas. Warren lives in Salisbury with Catherine, his wife of 30 years, and is the father of six adult children.

“It’s been an honor to serve the district over these last 10 years,” he said, adding that his status as a senior member puts him in a good position during such critical times.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

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