LAURINBURG — The Richmond County school board member hoping to win Gene McLaurin’s seat in the state Senate this year introduced his platform to some 25 Scotland County Republicans on Monday.
Thomas McInnis, a Rockingham native and owner of Iron Horse Auctions, has been a member of the Richmond County Board of Education since 2006. During a meeting of the Scotland County GOP, he spoke to his two primary interests: jobs and education.
In his candidacy announcement for the District 25 state Senate seat, McInnis said that, if elected, he will work toward reduction of unnecessary testing, a promise he repeated on Monday.
“Our teachers are worn out because they have to teach to the test, because the test is relevant to what they get paid or their performance reviews,” he said. “We’ve got to do away with some of this.”
District 25 includes Anson, Richmond, Scotland and Stanly counties along with part of Rowan County.
On the job front, McInnis placed blame for the area’s glacially slow economic recovery with “overzealous” regulations that hinder business growth.
“We’ve got too many rules, too many regulations, and too much restriction,” McInnis said, adding that Scotland and neighboring counties should look to fostering entrepreneurship among themselves rather than hoping for outside companies to move in and set up shop.
“There will be no 1,000-job plants that will come to our senatorial district probably ever again. I’m not saying never, I’m saying probably not. We’re going to have to grow our own.”
Though he is prepared to compete against a Republican opponent in a primary election, McInnis hopes not to. He cited voter turnout numbers from recent elections to show that he or any Republican candidate will have a chance in November if registered Republican voters turn out in full force.
“I have never been defeated by a Democrat,” he said. “I have been defeated by the Republicans that didn’t go to the polls and vote because they thought we had no chance.” In light of last week’s events in celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., Scotland County GOP vice-chairman Charles Brown spoke of his membership in the party as an African-American.
“Historically, all the way back into the 1800s, it was a party that stood for helping people of color do a lot of things that were very important,” he said.
Also chairman of the Scotland County Board of Education, Brown criticized his fellow elected officials for their lackluster attendance of the events both leading to and on Martin Luther King Day.
“They do not participate in Scotland County,” said Brown. “How many hours does it take to attend a function where you need to be to be informed?”
Also on the meeting, the group discussed plans for its Lincoln-Reagan Dinner to be held on March 1 in the Deercroft clubhouse, along with its March 22 county convention. GOP members who would like to represent the county party at state conventions must attend the county event.
The group also discussed the option of creating a Scotland County 2015 calendar as a fundraiser, opting to further research costs before committing to the project.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-276-2311, ex. 17.