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Dalton campaign rolls into Wilson
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Dalton campaign rolls into Wilson
Economic incentives, skilled workforce required to get economy 'bubbling'




Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton’s campaign trail led to Wilson Friday where he visited with someone he calls one of North Carolina’s treasures — Betty McCain.

McCain, the state’s former Secretary of Cultural Resources, and former Gov. James Hunt hosted a fundraiser for Dalton Friday at McCain’s home in Wilson. Dalton, elected lieutenant governor in 2008, is the Democratic nominee for governor in the November election. Dalton is challenging Pat McCrory, former Charlotte mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate. McCrory has made two stops in Wilson County, including one in April for a fundraiser held at the home of Wayne Gay, Wilson County’s former sheriff.

Before the evening fudraiser, Dalton spoke about his interest in serving as North Carolina’s 74th governor. Dalton believes his leadership, experience and vision for North Carolina will lead to gains in employment, a stronger public school system, better colleges and universities and a stronger business base.

"I think the economy is the number one thing as you go across the state,” Dalton said. "We have to refocus on 21st Century jobs and we have to recruit those 21st Century jobs. If you look at where the jobs are now, I think they’ll be in Allied Health. Our baby boomers are getting older. That is driving a whole larger economy in that area.”

Dalton wants to increase enrollment in college Allied Health programs, create new jobs in the military industry, focus on the state’s strength in being a leader in biotechnology and encouraging business growth.

"We have to do everything we can to create jobs now and then, protect our universities, which are doing great research because that’s where you find the new economies coming from,” Dalton said. "I like the breadth of what we do with the community colleges. In North Carolina, we’ve been about offering educational opportunities and I don’t want to stop that.”

Dalton, who served six terms in the Senate representing Cleveland and Rutherford counties, wrote the Innovative Education Act, which established the state’s early college system. Early colleges partner with high schools and provide early learning experiences designed to prepare students for the workforce. Students enter in the ninth grade and at the end of five years, receive a high school diploma and two years of college credit or an associate’s degree.

Dalton is a supporter of education and is concerned about cuts to education, at all levels. He said he is committed to raising teacher salaries to the national average.

"I would like to see us raise teacher pay to the national average and that would be a goal,” he said. "We need to make sure that we get this economy bubbling back but in the long run, as I have said, great jobs grow from great schools and we’ve got to work toward the improvement of our educational process.”

Dalton is a supporter of economic incentives that lead to job creation and retention. Incentives presented to Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations several years ago led to keeping one of Wilson’s largest industries in Wilson County, Dalton said.

"When you talk about incentives, nobody really likes incentives but if other states are doing them, you have to use them,” Dalton said. "Right here in Wilson, Bridgestone a few years back we gave incentives to . . . it helped keep about 1,800 jobs here in Wilson.”

Dalton believes he has proven leadership that includes turning down a 1.2 percent raise as lieutenant governor, which would have taken effect July 1.

"I think you lead by example,” Dalton said. "I didn’t feel it was appropriate when we were cutting out thousands of teacher positions to take that pay raise.”

He also volunteered to take a 5 percent pay decrease in the Senate because state employees were experiencing hardships.

"If state employees are hurting and people are hurting, then you should share that pain,” he said.

Dalton would work to bring change in state leadership by trying to find common ground with the GOP-controlled legislature, he said. He said he’s been successful before in working with both political parties.

"I would like to get away from the hyper-partisanship,” Dalton said. "You’ve seen truly hyper-partisanship engaged in the General Assembly now. In the past, I think, you’ve seen a more balanced process.

"I would like to see a more balanced approach. I would like to see us agree on our goals and our dreams and visions. I’d like to see us agree on our problems and see if we can work together to come up with solutions for those.”

Dalton, a native of Rutherfordton, was first elected to the state Senate in 1996, serving 12 years before his election to lieutenant governor. He received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He worked in banking and later returned to UNC where he earned a law degree. He has worked as an attorney for 30 years.

In the Senate, he led the Education Committee and spearheaded efforts to raise teacher standards and pay and worked to improve science, technology, engineering and math education to give the state a competitive edge in the global market.

He also established the JOBS Commission, which partners businesses and schools to retool education programs to better fit a changing job environment.

"I think North Carolina wants a governor that will serve all of North Carolina and that’s what I’m about,” he said. "I think I understand the urban areas but I also understand the rural areas. I’m from a rural area. I think you do lead by example and I think I have shown that in the past.”

Dalton, who has watched the N.C. Utilities Commission question recent issues related to the Duke Energy and Progress Energy Carolinas merger, he said he’s hopeful that the merger will remain intact. He’s confident in the commission’s investigation into issues surrounding the abrupt resignation of Bill Johnson, former Progress Energy chief executive officer.

"At the end of the day, I hope they will not unravel that merger,” Dalton said. "Those are two North Carolina companies that have great reputations. If they should unravel the merger, there is a threat that Progress would be a merger target for companies outside of North Carolina.”

rochelle@wilsontimes.com | 265-7818
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View Comments:Show/Hide(3 comments)
Jim Hunt was a descent man said...

but no one, even diehard democratic loyalists question that he was the absolute master of political patronage, cronyism and nepotism.

Friday, August 03, 2012 at 9:22 PM
The Truth said...

Walter Dalton is a decent man. Unfortunately, Republicans don't recognize decency when they see it.

Monday, July 30, 2012 at 8:33 PM
Dalton is another said...

crooked Jim Hunt "the king of political patronage" protege like Mike Sleazley, Puddin "trooper freak " Perdue and would continue the long tradition of corruption , nepotism and cronyism that has permeated this state during the 140 year recently ended democratic stranglehold on state politics.

Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM
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