A Closer Look: Forest's first campaign is for Lt. Governor
Businessman Dan Forest is running for Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The 2012 campaign for Lieutenant Governor in North Carolina may be Dan Forest's first official run for elected office. But, he is not a newcomer to politics.
Forest's mother, Sue Myrick, has represented the Charlotte area in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly two decades.
Forest says he began working on a campaign a year and a half ago, by letting people know the responsibilities of the second highest elected office in state government, and why he would make a good choice to fill the seat.
"I identified, like many people do, the leadership crisis we have in North Carolina in the executive level," the Republican from Raleigh said during an interview at the WECT studios. "I believe we need people to step out of their comfort zone in the business world and step into the public world. I wanted to do what I could do, and I think Lieutenant Governor is a good place for someone with a business background."
Forest served as senior partner in one of the largest architectural firms in North Carolina.
He says his experience in problem solving for clients can be put to use in the highest levels of state government.
The Lieutenant Governor is the only position with responsibilities to both the Executive and Legislative branches in Raleigh. The office-holder sits on many boards and committees, such as the North Carolina Board of Education, the NC Board of Community Colleges, and the Board of Economic Development.
Forest rates creating a better business climate in North Carolina as one of his top priorities if elected.
"Right now NC is 44th in the nation for business tax climate," said the married father of four children. "We have the highest corporate income tax in the southeast, the highest gas tax in the southeast, the highest personal income tax rate in the southeast. This is not good for business. We have to reform taxation, reform regulation, and create a strong level playing field for all businesses in our state."
Along with taxes reform and regulatory reform, Forest says education must also be a top priority if North Carolina is going to recruit and keep good jobs. Forest mentions breaking what he calls "the state controlled monopoly on education", instead favoring more choices for parents. "Choice leads to innovation and competition. If we really want to see our schools innovate and change and grow, and if we want to focus on the students and not on bureaucracy, then we're going to allow choice to happen. That's charter schools, more magnet schools, parents having the ability to make decisions on private schools, home schooling and virtual education."
Polls show a tight race between Forest and Democratic nominee Linda Coleman. Coleman has experience working in state government, and has served as a county commissioner and member of the NC House of Representatives. Forest does not see that experience as an advantage in the race.
"Too many people know how things work in state government, so there are too many excuses as to why certain things can't be done," Forest said. "I think a good fresh approach to government is needed right now, not the way things have been done historically. I believe in a business-minded approach to government. If any of our businesses in our state were run the same way our government has been running for the last half century, we'd all be out of business. We'd be broke. In fact, government is broke!"
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