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April 15, 2024

Candidates for State House tell their goals

Five candidates, four Republicans and one Democrat, are running for the N.C. State House seat for District 94. The district includes all of Alexander County and most of Wilkes County.

The candidates are Blair Eddins (R), Stoney Greene (R), and Steve Moree (D), all of Wilkes County, and Alexander residents Dwight Shook (R) and Larry Yoder (R). Moree does not have opposition in the March 5 Democratic Primary Election but will appear on the November ballot.

The candidates responded with answers to the following question which The Times asked: What are your goals, short-term and long-term, to help the people of the 94th District? Touch on all the areas you feel are important and the ways you will address these goals.

Blair Eddins, age 53 of Purlear, a Republican, holds a Business Management/Field Crop Technology degree from North Carolina State University. He is employed by Samaritan’s Purse in Asset Management.

Eddins’ experience includes being operator of a family farm in North Carolina growing 100-plus acres of flue-cured tobacco and 600-plus acres of wheat and soybeans. He also was owner of a grading and landscaping company doing commercial installation and worked in real estate sales, development, and management. He also had experience in Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief and warehouse. He is a member of Mount Pleasant Baptist Church – Personnel Committee, Security Trainer, and Mission Team Leader; member of the Brushy Mountain Community Center; and volunteer four Operation Heal Our Patriots in Alaska.

His awards include Honor Society – NCSU and Basic Law Enforcement Training – Valedictorian.

Eddins and his wife, Angie, have been married for twenty-seven years and have two children: Aaron (Sergeant, U.S. Army) and Amanda (obtaining Master’s Degree in Occupational Therapy).

Eddins’ response: “My first priority will be to use my experience in agriculture and business to build support for policies that benefit this district economically by stimulating job growth, supporting local businesses, and investing in infrastructure projects to improve transportation and access to resources. I plan to work with the NC Senate to ensure our state law enforcement is equipped to address the growing issue of illegal immigrants in our state and I will stand up against so-called “sanctuary cities” in North Carolina. I will also advocate for excellence in education that is designed to teach our children how to read, write, and do arithmetic, as well as our nation’s history—not the woke liberal ideology that is taking over classrooms across the country. I strongly support vocational training and technical education opportunities to prepare students for the workforce.

“In the long term, we need to foster economic growth by attracting new industries while strongly supporting our agricultural heritage. A key part of this is infrastructure: the roads, utilities, and services needed to support more good-paying jobs for our district. In Alexander County, we must find ways to increase access to emergency medical care in the county—a critical need that we must explore creative ways to address. By removing government red tape and making wise, responsible, and forward-thinking investments in infrastructure, we can bring in new high-paying careers and create opportunities for small businesses to flourish.

“Growing up on the family farm, I learned the true value of hard work, honesty, and dependability. As your state representative, I will bring those same core values with me to Raleigh. I won’t back down from a challenge and will always put the needs of our citizens first. I will do everything in my power to protect our Constitutional rights and increase economic opportunities for all residents of the 94th District, ensuring that our community remains vibrant and prosperous for generations to come. I would appreciate your vote as we work towards a brighter future for our state,” Eddins commented.

Stoney S. Greene, age 46 of Purlear, a Republican, is a graduate of West Wilkes High School, graduate of Mendenhall School of Auctioneering, and attended University of North Carolina School of Government.

He is current Chairman of the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners and is a small business owner of Greene Ventures LLC, Stone Wheel Trucking LLC, Stony Fork Farm. and Skip’s Feeds LLC.
He and wife, Kristi, have four children: Victoria, Harleigh, Scott, and Baileigh.

Greene is a member of Fishing Creek Arbor Baptist Church, was high school member of FFA, is an endowed member of Traphill Masonic Lodge 483, member of the Oasis and Blue Ridge Shriners, member of the High Country Council of Governments Executive Board, lifetime member of the NRA, lifetime member of the National Percheron Association, and charter member of the North Carolina Logger Association. He was appointed by the NC Association of County Commissioners President to the organization’s Steering Committee for Environment and also the Agricultural Steering Committee.

Greene’s experience includes starting his first business at the age of 12, called The Logger Shop, where he worked before and after school. This business is still in operation today. He worked and managed Greene Logging for 20 years. He serves as President of the North Carolina Percheron Association and worked and managed his family’s horse breeding farm.

He still lives on the family farm where he was born and raised.

Greene responded: “First and foremost I want to have a bill written that will prevent the purchase of our farmland and food companies by foreign entities. This is a national security issue from two standpoints. First is to keep foreign entities from controlling our food sources. The second concern is not knowing what equipment or devices they may be storing and using in the warehouse.

“When elected as the state representative of the 94th District, my primary focus will be to procure much needed funding for our children, adults, and seniors in Wilkes and Alexander. I will be working to improve funding for our school systems and teachers. Having a daughter and several aunts that are or have worked in the public school system, I am acutely aware of the needs facing the staff and children today and in the future. I also want to look at each counties’ infrastructure and their needs. I will work to find funding to improve infrastructure with the intention of attracting new jobs. Also, as many of our citizens are, I too am also concerned with the homeless situation that has developed recently in our area. As your representative, these are areas I plan to research and concentrate on seeking solutions.

“Another focus would be to find funding for future expansion of our sewer and water systems. To have pad ready sites available is a major attraction for new businesses. As a blue-collar small business working man, I am interested in continuing funding and developing more programs and opportunities through our community college system for the trades. I don’t believe everyone has to go to a four-year university and accrue debt to live a good life in our area,” Greene stated.

Steve Moree, 66, is a current resident of Wilkesboro and 1975 graduate of Alexander Central High School. Moree, a Democrat, served as a coach, teacher, and administrator in the Wilkes and Alexander County public school systems for more than 34 years before retiring from full-time work in 2011. Since that time, he has continued to work with teachers and administrators through trainings and as a student-teacher advisor for Appalachian State and Gardner-Webb universities.

Moree responded: “I am running for the North Carolina House from District 94 because of a lifetime commitment to education. I see what the General Assembly has done and continues to do to public education and, while I don’t want to appear to be a single issue candidate, 58% of the state budget is directly related to public education. My 45 years in public education clearly make me the most qualified candidate.

“One of the short term goals (something that needs to be addressed ASAP) is to stem the amount of money leaving public education to fund private schools by way of vouchers. In the long term, I would like to see the voucher program be greatly reduced and that money returned to public education. The vast majority of students in Alexander and Wilkes counties attend our public schools, let’s focus on funding those.

“Another short term goal is to create a salary schedule for all school employees that rewards experience appropriately. Let’s pay them a salary that keeps them in education to provide leadership for new employees. When I started many years ago the retirement benefits kept people in the system until they reached retirement. Many of those benefits have been stripped away. We need to keep experienced educators in schools and the current salary schedule does nothing to retain them. In years 25-30 they get $0.00 in pay increases.

“We must also reinstate Masters’ pay. This encourages teachers to continue learning their trade. This can be done quickly and needs to be done ASAP.

“Another short term goal of mine is to reduce the number of instructional days lost due to state testing. On average, we spend one month each year testing. Good teachers know before the first state test who in their class knows the material. The only thing teachers glean for state testing in which students perform well under high stakes testing.

“State retirees need a COLA (Cost Of Living Adjustment) instead of bonuses. The bonuses are never guaranteed and are an afterthought. Bonuses are not carried over to the next year but COLA’s are ongoing.

“All of these are short term goals. It is my belief that your short term goals should facilitate your long term goals and lay the groundwork for your long term plan. A strong, well funded, public educational system floats all boats. Economic development is a long term goal but if the items above are properly addressed, the economic picture for Alexander and Wilkes counties will become much brighter.

“Good schools make strong communities. Good schools produce a strong work force which attracts businesses. Good schools are attractive to parents seeking to raise their children in a safe rural setting. This will ultimately improve our economic outlook. Well educated young people command a higher standard of living which will increase revenue coming into our area. Money spent on public education is money well spent with a great ripple effect to the economy and standard of living.

“Our schools will be my number one priority if elected to office, not the letter next to my name on the ballot. It’s time for our representative in Raleigh to vote for the people from Bethlehem to Boomer and not just vote with their party,” Moree said.

Dwight Shook, age 53 of Taylorsville, a Republican, holds degrees in doctoral studies – Finance, graduate certificate – finance, MBA – International Business, Bachelors degree – Business Administration, Associates in Business Administration, Business Valuation Training, and is an NC Real Estate Broker.

Shook is employed as a Business professor, is a business owner and a business counselor/consultant. His experience includes representing Alexander County on the Future Forward Economic Alliance, serving on the NC Agricultural Finance Authority, serving as vice chair of the Alexander County Board of Health, and as Chair of the Western Piedmont Council of Governments’ Sister Cities Association.

Politically, Shook served as vice precinct chair, secretary, and chair of the Alexander County Republican Party. He is a long-time GOP activist working for many campaigns.
Shook is a Sunday School Superintendent of the Taylorsville Church of God. He and his wife, Holly, have two adult daughters.

Among his awards and achievements, Shook received the Excellence in Teaching award and established a scholarship for international travel for students as chair of the WPCOG Sister Cities Association. As WPCOG chair, he helped plan and hold an international business/finance symposium with a delegation from this region’s sister city of Altenburg, Germany. The symposium was held at CVCC Hickory. As WPCOG chair, he helped establish a German language class at CVCC Hickory. He counseled/consulted for many small businesses including dozens of startups. Shook counseled two out of three award winners of a business plan competition held at MCC Small Business Center.

Shook responded: “Short-term goals: I will fight to make sure that our law enforcement officers get the support they need to do their jobs. Also, those who break the law should have to face consequences for their actions. I will work to ensure that they do so.

“Long-term goals: I want to see the economy of the 94th District become the most business-friendly district in the state. This could be done through the counties working more closely together. If elected, I will work in Raleigh to help make sure that rural areas receive the support necessary to better compete with urban areas in competing for companies looking to locate in North Carolina. We have good, honest, hard-working people in this area. Our work ethic would be an asset to any company,” Shook said.

Larry Yoder, age 72 of Taylorsville, a Republican, is a native of Lincoln County. He has served as an Alexander County Commissioner from 2004 to 2016, and 2018 to the present, for a total of 17 years of service.

Yoder is a graduate of Lincolnton High School and attended Western Carolina University, Gaston College, and Catawba Valley Community College. He previously served as a Highway Patrolman and currently works as Traffic Manager at JB Hunt.

He was inducted into the Alexander County Republican Hall of Fame in 2023, received the “Key to the County” in 2016, was named Alexander County Citizen of the Year in 2012. He has served as a member of the Taylorsville/Central Alexander Fire Department, past president of the YMCA Management Council, past president of the Taylorsville Lions Club, past president of the Taylorsville Jaycees, past president of the Alexander Central Cougar Club, and past president of the Alexander Central Advisory Committee. Yoder is a member and past president of the Brushy Mountain Shrine Club, former chairman of the Alexander County Recreation Committee, and a recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the state’s highest civilian honor.

He is a member of First Baptist Church of Taylorsville where he has served as Sunday School Director and Deacon.

Yoder and his wife, Hazel, live in Taylorsville. He has a son, Alex (A.Y.) Yoder; a stepson, Alex Godwin (Emily); a stepdaughter, Julia Vaughan (Brian); and grandchildren Ava and Jackson Yoder, Brecken and Rhys Godwin, and Rachel and Michael Vaughan.

Yoder responded: “I am running for NC House District 94 because I believe in helping people. My purpose is to serve and do the best I can to improve our communities. My experience as an Alexander County Commissioner has given me the experience you need to serve the people. I know what our communities’ needs are and I am willing to work on those needs of our communities.
Some of the main issues that I will fight for include:
• Education — Parents have rights to what their kids are taught in our schools. Public education is vital for our young people to learn and prepare for the future of our communities. We need to take care of our teachers and those involved in education to make sure they are paid a fair wage and have the resources they need to educate our children. We need to make sure our children are ready when they graduate and that they are prepared for college, community college, military, or employment. We need our folks to be ready to learn a trade to be able to work and support their families.
• Mental health — Mental health issues and drug addiction are problems that we face every day, and we need to do more to assist in those areas. Many times, these folks are put behind bars, but we could use that same money and get them the medical help they need to be a productive part of society.
• Crime — Serious crimes should be taken seriously, and we need faster trials for those who violate the law. I will work with legislators, court personnel, and law enforcement to make effective change in these areas.
• Housing — Housing has become so expensive, and young folks cannot afford these prices. We need to find a way to have available, affordable housing for our people. I will work with legislators to make this a priority area for the 94th district.
• Public Safety — We need to look after those who serve in public safety, providing the resources they need to respond when our people are in need. We also need to make sure they are properly compensated for their vital role in our community.
• Constitutional Rights — We must ensure that our Constitutional rights are protected, including our right to worship and our right to own a gun! The rights we are provided by the Constitution should never be taken away.

“I want to see our people succeed in whatever they choose to do. My goal would be to work for the betterment of our people. It would be an honor to represent the fine people in the 94th District of our great State. Your support would be greatly appreciated!” Yoder concluded.

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