Rep. Mike Clampitt won his seat as the legislator for the 119th District in the North Carolina House of Representatives by less than 300 votes. The Republican’s November 2016 victory over Rep. Joe Sam Queen, a Democrat, came in the third race between the two in a district that includes Swain County, Jackson County and a portion of Haywood County. In March 2016, Clampitt won a Republican primary race against Aaron Littlefield by 1,200 votes.
Clampitt, 61, worked as a Charlotte firefighter for 28 years before retiring. He studied as Forsyth Community College and received a degree in fire science from Rowan Community College.
Carolina Public Press submitted a series of 12 questions to Clampitt as part of a series of conversations with new legislators. His responses are below.
CPP: What motivated you to run for office?
CLAMPITT: I have been in public service for over half my life, and it has been a calling and a duty.
CPP: What do you believe are the key issues facing the incoming class of the General Assembly?
CLAMPITT: Maintaining the positive growth that the state has had for the past four years with jobs and keeping the taxes low for our citizens.
CPP: Gov. Roy Cooper recently proposed expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Please explain your opinion of this proposal.
CLAMPITT: An expansion is possible with any program in our state. The question is: how is it to be funded and where is the money going to come from?
CPP: What House committees will you serve on, or do you hope to serve on, and why?
CLAMPITT: I have requested to be on committees that I felt important to the needs of the counties I serve. They are: Aging, Children and Families, Education-Community Colleges, Transportation-Appropriations, Wildlife Resources, Homeland Security and Public Safety and Veterans Service.
CPP: How has your prior work and public service experience prepared you to serve in the General Assembly?
CLAMPITT: Having had the life’s experiences I have had, the opportunity will greatly assist me in positive decision making for the good of all North Carolina citizens.
CPP: What is your overall opinion of the state’s public education system? What changes would you like to see in North Carolina’s public schools?
CLAMPITT: We have made great strides in our educational system in North Carolina by increasing teacher pay and reining in the issues with Common Core.
CPP: H.B. 2 has been a hot-button issue for both its supporters and opponents. What is your opinion of the law and do you believe it will remain in place?
CLAMPITT: I support the intent and integrity of H.B. 2.
CPP: Would you like to see any changes made to North Carolina’s gun laws (either strengthening or loosening those laws)?
CLAMPITT: There are quite enough gun laws on the books now. It is my belief that law-abiding citizens are allowed to exercise their second amendment rights openly.
CPP: Please describe your personal political philosophy. What issues are most important to you?
CLAMPITT: As a fire captain, charged with the lives of personnel and those of the public, it was to always do the best job for the public as possible while keeping those under my command as safe as possible. Important issue: public safety.
CPP: What are some pieces of legislation you’d like to sponsor or co-sponsor?
CLAMPITT: It is too early to have decisions on bills to be filed. It is an involved process and, when it is time, those items will be addressed.
CPP: Republicans have supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly. How important is bipartisanship to you, and can you identify any areas where Republicans and Democrats in the legislature can work together?
CLAMPITT: I believe that all the legislators in both houses of the General Assembly want to work together to make our great state of North Carolina greater.
CPP: Forbes magazine recently ranked North Carolina as the No. 2 state in the U.S. in terms of business climate. How can the General Assembly work to ensure that trend continues?
CLAMPITT: Hopefully we will continue the job that has been started in the preceding years of repealing the over-regulation of businesses, reducing the tax burden on the citizens, enticing of those businesses that are looking to relocate to come to North Carolina and promoting the trades education to put more to work.