Race for Congressional seat heats up

Apr. 23, 2014 @ 10:36 PM

Four candidates have joined the race to be the U.S. representative for North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.

Incumbent G.K. Butterfield will face off against Dan Whittacre in the Democratic primary May 6, while Arthur Rich will battle Brent Shypulefski for the Republican nomination.

Butterfield, who has held the seat for a decade, said he’s running again to continue serving the public as he’s done for the last 25 years as a lawyer, judge and legislator.

That experience gives him a background of problem-solving indispensable for representing the 750,000 people in a district in the northeastern corner of the state that includes all or part of 24 counties.

Butterfield, a resident of Wilson, said he wants to continue to address both the issues unique to this district and those in common with the rest of the nation, including jobs, poverty, lack of affordable housing, food insecurity and a public education system that needs more resources.

“All of this costs money; all of this is an investment,” he said. “Local municipalities don’t have the resources to invest at this level. That leaves the state and the federal government to do it. I know we live in a difficult economic climate, but we can’t stop investing in our future.”

By contrast, Whittacre said if he wins the Democratic nomination, he will focus on jobs and cultivating relationships with those on both sides of the aisle to be able to pass legislation and get things done.

The Air Force veteran has also spent time as a civil servant in the federal government and is currently an educator in Vance County Schools. He sees education, economic development and the economy as intertwined and champions programs that encourage businesses to come to North Carolina as well as strengthening early childhood education initiatives and urging community colleges to be more responsive to changes in the job market.

Mostly, however, the Henderson resident said, if elected, he would strive to remain focused on what people in the community want.

“I want people to know that my entire life I have spent dedicated to serving other people,” he said. “If elected to Congress, I will never lose sight of the fact that I am a public servant — emphasis on servant. I am there to serve the people, not ingratiate myself with a position, believing myself to be better than others, but still a person who resides in the district, works in the district and is there to serve.”

Whittacre ran unsuccessfully against Butterfield in 2012.

Republican Shypulefski, a resident of Rocky Mount, said his position can be summed up fairly simply.

“I’m a pro-life, Christian conservative who believes in small government, a strong military yet one that’s not involved in every conflict in the world,” he said. “I believe in term limits. I do not believe in amnesty nor do I agree with Obamacare. Need I say more?”

Shypulefski is a member of First Baptist Church of Rocky Mount, where he led a Bible study for singles, and he also tutored three students in math at Williford Elementary School.

His main issues are job growth, education and a balanced budget.

For education, he said the federal government should cut the strings attached to the funds it sends to states. He advocated starting with the $2.7 trillion Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction plan to help balance the budget while also looking at whether taxpayer dollars are being spent in the best possible way.

For job growth, Shypulefski lauded the work Gov. Pat McCrory and the General Assembly have done to make North Carolina more receptive to businesses. He also said the federal government needs to stop destroying jobs; he would work to push back the Affordable Care Act and is against raising the minimum wage, both of which he said are bad for business.

Garland resident Rich said he’s running to bring opportunity to all the residents of eastern North Carolina and to do what he can to make the district and the country better.

Rich, who said he’s been working since he was 5 years old, said his focus is on jobs, especially in the 1st District.

“It’s one of the highest-ranked unemployment areas in North Carolina,” he said. “It’s the poorest district in the state and the sixth poorest in the country. There’s so much potential in the district to make things better — in the district and for every person in North Carolina. We can do that working together and using each others’ ideas and resources.”

He also supports a proposal by economist Olivia Mitchell to do away with unemployment insurance and instead use those funds to allow people who lose their jobs to draw their full salaries; if they end up not needing this benefit, it would rollover into a retirement plan.

Rich said his work as an accountant gives him perspective on creating balanced budgets and dealing with uncertainty.

He said he wants to put forth policies that help Americans be happy, healthy and prosperous again.


Contact the writer at vshortley@hendersondispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @herding_stets.