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ROCKY MOUNT — Going to work in the General Assembly is a continuation of the work Rep. James Gailliard has been doing for the past several years as pastor of Word Tabernacle Church.
“My mission is to represent people who historically have not had a voice — children, the elderly and the disabled,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I decided to run.”
Gailliard said he is looking forward to working on a variety of issues once the legislature convenes, and that the key to making improvements in his district is by working together.
“I plan to build bipartisan relationships. That’s how we grew our church, by building relationships with people who lived in the country club and people who lived in areas of poverty,” Gailliard said. “It takes 61 votes to get something passed in the House. It takes relationships in order to make something happen.”
One of the ways Gailliard plans to move his district forward is by utilizing Nash County’s status as a Tier 1 county by aligning with other Tier 1 counties and forming a caucus. The state Department of Commerce defines a Tier 1 county as one of North Carolina’s 40 most economically distressed counties based on the criteria of average unemployment rate, median household income, percentage growth in population and adjusted property tax base per capita.
“We have some specific issues as a Tier 1 county,” Gailliard said, “and by working together, we can make sure our needs are met.”
Gailliard also is a proponent of some form of Medicaid expansion, noting that in addition to addressing the health care needs of his constituents, it could also be a vehicle for job development.
Education reform also is a high priority for Gailliard, as shown by his interest in joining the K-12 Education and University and College committees, as well as the Health Committee.
“Wherever I wind up, I’m going to show up and work hard,” Gailliard said.
“I think we need to have a procedural audit of our education practices to make sure we’re getting the best return on our investment.”
The newly minted representative also is thinking ahead to the future, specifically 2020, when district lines will be redrawn.
“I have some long-term ideas as well, so I will definitely run again,” Gailliard said. “I want to make sure we are well represented in the census data that determines redistricting, and I will be fighting for third-party redistricting to make sure we don’t have to deal with what we’ve had to live through with gerrymandering again.”
A Democrat, Gailliard represents House District 25, comprising the majority of Nash County including Rocky Mount, Nashville, Spring Hope and Sharpsburg.
Excited by the diversity of the legislature, specifically the number of women joining the ranks, Gailliard believes change is on the horizon.
“The freshman class is great,” he said. “I think we’re going to see a big difference in North Carolina politics.”