A Closer Look: newcomer Anderson wants to debate Rep. Jones
Erik Anderson is challenging nine-term incumbent Walter B. Jones for a seat in Congress
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Erik Anderson did not take an easy first step into politics. The former marine who lives in Pitt County is challenging nine-term incumbent Walter B. Jones in the newly drawn Third Congressional District. It runs from the North Carolina – Virginia state line all the way into Wilmington, a total of 22 different counties. That presents a challenge for a candidate looking to introduce himself and his stance on issues important to voters.
"The only way to do it is to get on the ground," Anderson said in an interview in the WECT studios. "You go to every single parade you can possibly get to, shake hands with everyone you see on the street and say ‘Hi, I'm Erik Anderson. I'm running for the U.S. House of Representatives. A lot of people are saying ‘my voice is not being heard in Washington'. This is not just coming down from just Democrats, or Republicans, or Libertarians or the Tea Party, this is the basic consensus throughout the district."
Anderson says he wants to be visible during the campaign because he believes his opponent, incumbent Walter B. Jones, is not. "They don't see my opponent," Anderson said, speaking of Rep. Jones. "When he is supposed to come back on his breaks, they don't see him in the community, they don't see him every weekend, they don't see him at different events throughout the community." And I know it's hard with 22 counties but it still has to be done, that's part of your job."
Anderson says he has offered several times to meet Jones in a forum or debate, to discuss the issues in front of voters and citizens of the Third Congressional District. Jones has told WECT news in the past he is not interested.
"If a man or woman has never served in public office, not even locally as a town official, they know nothing about the issues," Rep. Jones told WECT anchor Jon Evans in June. "I know about the issues simply because I am on the inside and I can evaluate them. That does not mean that a person cannot do a good job once they are elected, but they know nothing about what they are getting into." When asked if Anderson deserves the opportunity to sit down with the Congressman to discuss the issues, Rep. Jones answered "I think not."
"It's frustrating," Anderson said of his attempts to meet the incumbent. "It's extremely frustrating and also frustrating to the voters, and they are going to see that in November, how little he has done in his last 18 years."
Anderson speaks often about what he sees as Eastern North Carolina's opportunities when it comes to generating clean energy, which he thinks can translate into jobs. Anderson believes the future lies with solar, wind and hydro-power. Anderson has an answer for the critics who say it's too expensive or not practical in its current form. "I can guarantee it is not as expensive as two wars," he said. "I can guarantee that the last two wars have been fought over one thing, oil. Natural gas can be a great option, but not for all areas. That could be an answer for at least a little bit. But we have to sustain it for future generations."
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