I decided to run for office to make a difference for families. Having no prior political involvement, I was motivated to move out of my comfort zone as a stay-at-home mom, school volunteer, and Bible study leader into politics as an overtime candidate in a contentious House race primarily as a concerned Christian and parent interested in the best future for our children. My prior experience as an MBA, employed by IBM to help many different companies succeed, contributed to my frustration as a fed-up taxpayer questioning the effectiveness and fiscal sense of our government. Our values and concerns were secondary to a failed, status quo approach which cared more about programs, speeches, and partisanship than for people and results. Politics was standing in the way of solutions, and everyday citizens were stuck with the consequences – billions in debt, the 44th worst state in oppressive taxes, the 5th highest unemployment, and perpetual meaningless rhetoric.

I pledged to deliver results, uphold the integrity of the office, and always serve in the best interest of our community. I had no interest in political games and still don’t. Public service is a sacred trust that carries a responsibility to serve others above self, and we need more people with this mindset in Raleigh. When I was sworn in for my first term I felt like a spy for the people. I have held to the attitude expressed in my earliest campaign literature: “Not a politician, one of us…”  I consider myself a public servant: making every effort to achieve real results for real people, taking time to learn about opposing views and alternative approaches, differentiating between what is nice in theory and what can be achieved in practice, within the role of government. I frequently question why things should continue being done “the way it’s always been done” and bring people together to find solutions that make a difference. It’s been a challenging and rewarding experience.

We’ve made some good progress in my time serving: eliminating the death tax and the mill machinery tax, adding a sunset to burdensome regulations, paying off billions in debt by reforming unemployment insurance, and cutting taxes on businesses and families of all income levels. We restored the Historic Preservation tax credits for rural downtown development, established the Whirligig as the official state folk art, and saw Wilson awarded an Innovate NC grant to develop an inclusive entrepreneurial economy by utilizing the community-owned Greenlight Gigabit Network. We created the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, worked with local and state leaders to pass job-creating the NC Competes Act, and eliminated NCEMPA’s debt crisis that stifled economic development in our area – Wilson Energy residential customers have saved more than $34 million in reduced electric rates since September 2015 according to the wilsonnc.org calculator.

As Co-Chair of the new Joint Legislative Life Science Caucus, we’ve highlighted the economic and job development engine that the state’s biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries are. We expanded workforce development opportunities to provide students with the skills required to meet local industry needs through the opening of the Wilson Academy of Applied Technology (WAAT), Lee Technology Center and AgriTech program at WCC, the Pitt Early College High School, and the Pharmaceutical Services Network at PCC and ECU. We extended the Job Maintenance Capital Development grant to keep our Bridgestone jobs and plant location competitive in the global economy. We raised teacher pay and improved the career path, so our best teachers can stay in the classroom. We passed balanced budgets, controlled spending, and built up our savings reserve to its highest level, even after tapping into the rainy day fund for much-needed flood relief last year. We achieved revenue surpluses and made strategic investments across the state in education, including ECU’s Brody School of Medicine and the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf; and in infrastructure, including our ports and transportation projects.

We passed ‘Raise the Age’ juvenile justice reform that will provide our youth with better early intervention, rehabilitation, and opportunities for success. We increased critically needed efforts towards combating the opioid crisis through the STOP Act, and began important child welfare reforms with the Family/Child Protection & Accountability Act. We improved access to mental health care by modernizing the state’s telepsychiatry strategy and adding Facility Based Crisis alternatives. We stood tall for the Second Amendment, the right to life, and our conservative values. While there is much more to do, I am proud to have contributed to these important accomplishments and know that lives will be positively impacted for years to come and that our area will grow stronger if our fiscally responsible approach is continued.

Recent weeks have been busy and humbling. I had the opportunity to compare notes with fiscal leaders from other states and affirm that North Carolina is a frontrunner in many areas. I chaired our Economic Development Oversight Committee and am determined to see creative, regional, collaborative, and locally driven strategies that bridge rural and urban areas to improve economic growth throughout the entire state. To support this, changes to improve accuracy in measuring economic distress need to be implemented. I heard more about the incredible, life-changing work being done at Wilson Department of Social Services and how we can be a model for the state. I very much enjoyed attending a Farmville event in support of my esteemed colleague, Dr. Greg Murphy, and finding a room full of dear friends, more deserving of hugs than handshakes. It was so exciting to see the Whirligig Park come to fruition and to celebrate with collaborative partners, visionary leaders, neighbors, and friends. I saw many of the connections I’ve made through this journey translate into the potential for making an eternal difference, as diverse new friends accepted my invitation to join the movement bringing Young Life to Wilson. I was deeply moved by the incredible network of believers who reminded me that they pray for me often, and by extended church families, I have been blessed to worship with. I have cherished special moments with my parents, husband, and college daughters as they take flight, take the stage, and impress me with their growing knowledge, faith, and character. I’m looking forward to attending the Farm City Week Breakfast which celebrates the incredible contributions of our local agriculture industry and brings a diverse group of farmers, businessmen, government leaders, and citizens together. The best part of my job is connecting people and being part of communities that come together in innovative ways to accomplish great things, both at home in the district and in the legislature. I am truly blessed and recognize that to whom much is given, much is expected.

I ran in 2012 because we needed a fresh voice in Raleigh.  Now it is time for someone else to add their new voice. After much prayer and discussion with my family, I’ve decided not to run for reelection in 2018. I have loved serving the citizens of Wilson and Pitt counties and look forward to continuing to effect change. Getting to know the people in the district and across the state has been by far the best reward for public service. I remain eternally grateful for all the support and prayers I have received and am blessed to call many of you my friends. Thank you to my family for always standing with me, believing in me, and sacrificing to help make a difference. I am not sure what the future holds, but am very thankful to know the one who holds the future and trust God that it will be good. I am confident that there are new opportunities waiting to be discovered, for me and for whoever steps forward to continue the positive momentum we have made in making North Carolina one of the fastest growing economies in the country. Thank you for trusting me with the honor of representing you in the General Assembly. I am proud to be there through 2018 on behalf of our amazing community and proud to serve with a dedicated team of conservatives. Please stay or get engaged to be part of the answer – government works for you and your voice is needed!