Watch video of WFJA’s interview with North Carolina House of Representatives District 51 candidate John Sauls, an incumbent Republican who is facing Democratic challenger Jason Cain for the seat. District 51 includes Lee, and parts of western Harnett County. Below, read answers submitted to The Rant monthly in August, September and October.
Visit Sauls’ campaign website here.
Briefly introduce yourself and describe why you’re seeking election to the House of Representatives.
SAULS: I am John Sauls. I pastored Crossroads Ministries in Broadway for 22 years.
During my pastorate, I elected County Commisioner 1998-2002, NC House District 51 2003-2006. Our church doubled in attendance the 4 years while a commissioner and doubled in attendance again the 4 years in the General Assembly. Therefore, I did not run again in 2006. In 2016 I retired from Crossroads and was re-elected to the NC House and re-elected to a fourth term in 2018.
I am married to Mardie Merritt Sauls. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary August 21. We have 3 married children.
I am running for re-election to continue to keep NC’s corporate and personal taxes low. Forbes magazine rates NC number one state to do business. Because of our policies of being a business friendly state, NC is now the 9th most populated state with 10,600,000 people. We should pick up at least one seat in congress. Without sound fiscal policies and strong support of our current and new businesses there will not be the revenues to properly pay our teachers, Highway Patrol, Correction Officers, State Employees, meet the transportation needs of a growing state and future economic projects.
What is your view of North Carolina’s process of closure and subsequent reopening in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, and how best do you think an elected representative can support his or her community during a time like this?
SAULS: We are facing an unprecedented pandemic. Scientists and government officials have worked tirelessly to find ways to protect the public while also working to find a cure.
I believe the closure was necessary ,however, a more balanced approach in considering small business should have been made. While the Walmart’s, Home Depot’s, and Lowe’s Home Improvements had a windfall small business suffered.
These large stores while deemed essential had so many people compacted together one was more likely to be infected with Covid-19 than had small business been allowed to stay open. As a result more people were unemployed and more businesses will not recover. Small businesses are the backbone of our communities.
I support the Governor’s reopening of some businesses. However many were not allowed to open that could have by using the same precautions of the ones opening. We have to weigh the cost along with the risks.
I am pleased with the way most citizens have responded by staying home as much as possible, the wearing of masks, and practicing social distancing.
Representatives support the citizens by helping them navigate our state agencies and finding solutions to their issues. It makes serving worth it.
The method by which political maps are drawn has been an issue of contention in the General Assembly. Do you support an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission which will draw maps in the future, or any other changes to the process, or do you think legislators should continue creating political districts?
SAULS: I remember Paul Harvey a well known radio personality saying years back; “We need an investigating committee to investigate congress. Then we need an investigating committee to investigate the investigating committee.” That’s like saying a “nonpartisan” redistricting committee. The good news for our citizens most votes taken in the House pass by 90 to 115 votes.
The majority party swings from democrats to republicans and visa versa by the voters who always have the final say. As a member of the redistricting committee, I watched both parties work together drawing new maps.
The election of 2018 saw the republican majority lose 10 members. Shifts in populations can dictate election outcomes. I have seen so called “nonpartisan” political offices anything but nonpartisan. I believe the elected democrats and republicans should draw the maps.
Partisan balance in the House has grown tighter in recent years, forcing legislators from both parties to work together more often. Assuming this trend continues, how will you look for opportunities to work across the aisle? And if you are elected as a member of the House minority, what will you do to ensure that your ideas are heard and your constituents are well represented.
SAULS: I will not have to look for opportunities to work across the aisle. I have been doing that in Lee-Harnett for 12 years. First as a Lee County Commissioner 1998-2002, then NC House 2003-2006 and returning to the House 2017-present. If elected a member of the minority, I will work with the minority party the same as I do now in the majority.
In 2005 while a member of the minority, I was appointed Co-Chair of the House Community College Committee by the democrat Speaker of the House.
The News & Observer reported in July that roughly 1.2 million adult North Carolinians under age 65, or about one in five, live without health insurance, a number that was exacerbated by job losses occurring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What, if anything, should the General Assembly do to ensure these people have access to affordable care?
SAULS: No response at this time.
Pandemic-related job losses have also led to situations in which renters are being evicted from their homes because they can no longer afford rent. One such situation here in Sanford was even covered in The New York Times. Does state government have a role in addressing these situations, and if so, what do you think should be done to prevent individuals from being evicted?
SAULS: No response at this time.