Candidates for governor face off in forum

GREENSBORO – The National Guard Association held a candidates’ forum for its members on Saturday, hearing from candidates for Governor, the U.S. Senate, and Lieutenant Governor.

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, March 29, 2016, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Cooper addressed the media in response to the passing of House Bill 2 last week during a legislative special session. (Kevin Martin/North State Journal)

North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper speaks during a news conference March 29,  in Raleigh. (Kevin Martin/North State Journal)

Current attorney general, and Democratic candidate for governor, Roy Cooper kicked off the event in Greensboro, touting his record as a state legislator.

“While in the state legislature, we worked to raise teacher pay, I helped to write the new children’s health insurance law, we lowered sales taxes, and we passed tougher laws on child predators and rapists,” Cooper said.

“What I’ve seen happen over the last few years is not the North Carolina I know,” Cooper lamented.  “Gov. McCrory talks about a Carolina Comeback.  It has been no Carolina Comeback for everyday working people.”

“When North Carolina is one of the last in the country for per-pupil expenditure for public schools, we know it’s not a Carolina Comeback for public education,” said Cooper.

Cooper said that education was in our state constitution, but “also in our DNA as a people.”  He has promised to spend more money on education as governor.

Cooper also hit North Carolina Republican leadership for new sales and gas taxes, and criticized their treatment of state employees and local governments.

“The governor and legislature are doing the same thing to local governments that they complain Washington [D.C.] is doing to the states, and it’s wrong,” Cooper said.

In closing, Cooper said North Carolinians “want leaders who will get over this partisan bickering between Republicans and Democrats.”

Governor Pat McCrory speaks to supporters of the Connect NC Bond Tuesday, Mar. 15, 2016, in Raleigh, N.C. (Liz Condo / North State Journal)

Governor Pat McCrory speaks to supporters March 15, in Raleigh, N.C. (Liz Condo / North State Journal)

Addressing the audience of National Guard members, Gov. McCrory said that being Commander-in-Chief is his number one priority.

“When I was sworn in as governor…there was no comprehensive strategy in North Carolina to help veterans get jobs and start a career,” McCrory said.

McCrory pointed to his record of providing in-tuition for veterans, tuition assistance for those in the National Guard, and reforming licensing requirements to make it easier for returning service members to put their experience to work.

“This is the type of thinking we have brought to North Carolina government,” McCrory said.

McCrory also touted his record of standing up to President Obama on the relocation of Syrian refugees and relieving sanctions on Iran.

“You need a governor that clearly understands this threat to our state and to our country, and I’m that leader,” McCrory said.

“This is something the Attorney General doesn’t talk about, the wreck our economy was in under the Easley/Perdue administrations.  We were $2.6 billion in debt for unemployment […] Not only did we pay off that debt, we now have a $1 billion reserve in case we have another recession in this country,” McCrory said.  “That’s responsible fiscal management.”

“We live in the greatest state in the United States of America and I’m not going to let people slam our state.  I’m going to defend our state for the right values and continued economic growth,” McCrory said.

“I’m proud to announce today, that North Carolina has had the greatest economic comeback of any state in the United States of America the last 3 years.  Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s leadership,” McCrory said.

Libertarian candidate for governor, Lon Cecil, also spoke at the forum.

“I am not a politician.  I’m not a lawyer.  I’m an engineer,” Cecil said.

In his brief remarks, Cecil championed small, limited government and ridding the state of ineffective bureaucracy.

“Libertarians believe in individual freedom and individual responsibility,” Cecil said.  He also voiced support for legalizing medical marijuana.

Candidates for lieutenant governor, and U.S. Senate also spoke at the event.