Tom Gale Rick Catlin
Restoring public education funding is among the top goals for Wilmington Realtor Tom Gale in his campaign for the North Carolina House District 20 seat.
“It’s the single best investment you can make,” Gale, a Democrat, said Friday, Sept. 14, adding it is better to spend money on children’s education than face possible long-term effects without it in the form of dead-end jobs, public assistance and incarceration.
“If we invest that money properly these are going to be people with high-paying jobs [who] are going to be getting the small businesses that are going to
kick-start our economy and employ other people,” said Gale, whose wife is a public school teacher.
New Hanover County Commissioner Rick Catlin, District 20’s Republican candidate, was pushing for a stronger vocational pathway option for high school students who otherwise would not go on to or finish college. Creating charter school opportunities might be one way to offer that, he said.
“We’ve got to have a work force that can accommodate the industries and the businesses that want to live here, that want to grow here,” Catlin said Monday, Sept. 17.
Catlin, 58, was elected to the county commission in 2010. He is president and owner of Catlin Engineers and Scientists in Wilmington, and he considers his wife Janice his personal hero.
Gale, 36, is a small business owner and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage. He served as a Belville town commissioner from 2004 to 2005 and made an unsuccessful primary attempt for New Hanover County commissioner in 2010. His hero is Abraham Lincoln.
The 20th district seat they are vying for was created during the most recent redistricting process and includes a large part of northern New Hanover County.
Catlin had announced his intention to run in 2011, and Gale said he filed this year because he wanted to give voters a choice about what would otherwise have been an unopposed race.
Rising coastal insurance rates of about 30 percent in Wrightsville compared with dropped rates for other cities have been a concern for Gale, who has served on the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors’ board of directors and on a legislative committee studying insurance issues.
“People have no choice,” Gale said. Insurance companies have control over insurance rates, he said, adding he would like consumers to have more say and rates be based on valid statistics.
Gale also would like to see state incentives for green building or retrofitting.
“In order to have our growing energy needs met the easiest way to do it is not necessarily nuclear, or coal, or gas, or solar or wind; it’s making sure that every house that we have is using that much less energy,” Gale said.
And Gale would like to see a change to what he called a backwards philosophy of government spending in scrambling to use every last dime to avoid getting less money the following year. Instead, people should be able to carry over money saved, reward employees or start a pool for future needs, he said.
Both candidates were concerned about beach renourishment.
Catlin, who has served as chairman of the Wilmington-New Hanover County Ports, Waterways and Beach Commission and the North Carolina Water Resources Congress, said he has been involved in developing contingency plans for beach renourishment, exploring sustainable water supplies and working toward solutions to meet sulfur dioxide standards.
North Carolina needs federal or state funding to help local funding for beach renourishment, Catlin said.
With the federal government no longer contributing 65 percent of beach renourishment project funds, state funding of about 75 percent of the remaining 35 percent — or about
26 percent overall — is needed to keep beach renourishment sustainable, Catlin said.
“In the last session the only things that the state honored or matched were federal contributions,” Catlin said. “Local contributions are just as golden.”
Education and the environment are needed to help the overriding issue of a strong economy, Catlin said.
“In this global economy if we want to prosper we’ve got to compete,” Catlin said. “We have to find ways to further interest residents and businesses to come here.”
Finding a more efficient permitting process that does not take two years to yield job creation can help, Catlin said.
“I’m an environmental engineer. I understand the struggle that we have as a species to balance protecting the world with trying to feed and clothe 7 billion people,” Catlin said. “But we don’t have to take 27 months to do it…or 18 months, or however long it takes.”