I was born in Tupelo, Mississippi – home of Elvis. Mom was a proud homemaker. Dad worked long hours as a forester. My sister and I spent summers on Granddad’s farm tending the fields, feeding the animals, and bailing hay. I grew up with homegrown vegetables, hard-earned respect, and the drive to serve God and Country.
After graduation I enlisted. My first night in North Carolina was spent doing push-ups at Fort Bragg. I was part of the Combat Engineers for the 82nd Airborne. I’ll admit, I was rough around the edges when I got to Fort Bragg! But the Army shaped me into a team player. The terms “brotherhood” and “family” took on a whole new meaning. I was proud to serve my country and thankful for the structure and discipline. I earned the rank of Sergeant, the Army Service Ribbon, Army Achievement Medal with Two Oak Leaf Clusters, and the NCO Professional Development Ribbon.
After my service in the military, I chose to stay in Fayetteville, make North Carolina my home, and start my own business, Cardinal Landscaping. With my red pick-up truck and a lawnmower, I drove from yard to yard, day after day, until I had regular work. Today, 30 years later, Cardinal Landscaping is still going strong, employing 55 workers. Over the years, my small business has created over 1,000 jobs in our community.
In November 2010, you elected me to the North Carolina Senate to go Raleigh and restore our values. During my eight years in the Senate, we did a lot of good things for our community and state:
- We raised teacher pay by 15 percent – over five consecutive budgets – and increased the average salary to $54,000 per year.
- We cut taxes so that the first $20,000 a family earns in North Carolina is tax-free.
- We reduced red tape for our small businesses and made North Carolina the #1 state in America for jobs.
I look at what’s going on in the country and in our state today and see how much there is we can do to help our community. Over the last two years, Cumberland County has lacked a strong voice in Raleigh, fighting for teachers, families, and small businesses. I was honored to vote for five consecutive teacher pay raises during my time in the Senate, but Sen. deViere has now voted against six teacher pay raises. This is unacceptable.