Rep. Susan Fisher and her Republican challenger, John Carroll. Photo by Michael Muller
North Carolina’s 114th state House District begins in north Asheville and extends over Weaverville, Leicester and much of northern Buncombe County. Democrat Susan Fisher has held the seat for the last seven years.
But Republican John Carroll, a real-estate agent and former president of the Council of Independent Business Owners, believes his business experience gives him the edge.
“The primary issue is the economy, the deficits the state is facing and the general feeling among the citizens that the government's not functioning in their best interest,” he says. “The thing I bring to the table that's different from Susan Fisher is that I've got over 30 years of business experience in addition to the fact that I've been a teacher, an assistant principal, a board of education member. I've done a lot of the same things that Susan's done, but I've got this additional experience, and in the next few years, that's going to pay off.”
Given the general economic situation and a projected $3 billion state budget gap next year, fiscal issues are taking center stage in both campaigns.
“Top of the list is the economy,” Fisher declares, saying she'll work to limit cuts affecting education and jobs. “We have to preserve education; we have to preserve as many jobs as possible; we don't want to be adding more unemployed. We're going to have to be careful about what services we cut: In a recession, there's more reliance on social services.” But Fisher says some departments might be consolidated to save money.
She also believes the state needs to increase revenues. “We have been behind the times in terms of what we add taxes to,” Fisher maintains. “There are these value-added taxes we've missed the boat on. North Carolina hasn't had taxes on services — things like when you go to an accountant or an attorney or when you get your nails done. These are things you don't pay tax on. There are some dollars that are slipping through the cracks that the state can look at recouping. You have to have people who aren't afraid of looking at that.”
Carroll, however, says, “We can't sustain any more tax increases,” and the state needs to take a serious look at spending cuts.
Asked for details, Carroll says: “I don't think anyone can get too specific right now. ... It's a pretty fluid situation; you'll know when you get there.”
The challenger does stress the importance of education, saying he'd emphasize efficiency rather than laying off teachers.
“When you see a poverty rate go from 13 percent to 16 percent, you know ... some real changes need to be made,” Carroll maintains. “There's going to be some impact from the national health-care plan, and it's really going to hit states with additional expenses. There's a lot of uncertainties.”
For Fisher, though, that very uncertainty is one reason to vote for “progressive leadership. I bring years of experience to the job. When you look, overall, at what WNC has gone through in terms of leadership and building of clout, we're beginning to come into our own. It's important to keep that leadership.”
The candidates’ campaign websites are: www.electsusanfisher.org and www.carroll4nchouse.com.
— David Forbes can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 137, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.