Woody White believes he will bring a strong skill set to the 7th District seat being vacated by Congressman Mike McIntrye, along with a drive to unify what he calls a disjointed group of lawmakers bent more on getting re-elected than fixing the country he loves.
That's why the New Hanover County resident chose to run in the May 6 Republican primary, he said. He faces Johnston County's David Rouzer and Cumberland's Chris Andrade in that race. Walter A. Martin Jr. of Johnston County and Jonathan Barfield Jr. of New Hanover will meet in the Democratic primary. Sampson makes up a portion of Dist. 7.
White, who made a stop at The Independent earlier this week in what has been his fifth or sixth trip to Sampson County, talked emphatically about his desire to serve, what's wrong with Washington and the priorities he will carry with him should voters give him the opportunity to become their next congressman.
“I'm not a career Washington insider,” White asserted. “I'm just an average person from the real world, and I think that's what is needed in Washington. I've run a business for nearly 20 years. My wife Tammie and I are raising a family together. Those life experience equip me to take common sense to Washington, a place I think is really lacking in common sense.”
He strongly believes, he said, that it's time to bring real people to the political table in Washington, “doing whatever we can to tone down the shrill nature of our national discourse.
“We need to discuss things like regular people, talking about the real challenges that America is facing with the goal of solving those problems together and not worrying so much about whether the choices we make will get us re-elected again.”
He understands how to work across the aisle with those from other political affiliations or with differing opinions from his own, finding common ground that starts and ends with doing what is right and best for America. He learned that he said in his role as a New Hanover County commissioner, a board on which he serves as chairman.
He ran for a spot on the board in 2012, finishing as the top vote-getter in a six-man race and being elected to the chairmanship at his very first meeting.
He's proud of many accomplishments on that board, he said, most especially the way his board works with the Wilmington City Council, a seven-member board made up of six Democrats and one Republican.
“I'm really proud of the fact that our two groups have come together, working in tandem, as partners, collaborating to do the things our citizens need and want us to do.”
It's their voice, he believes that he and others on the board must hear, much the same as he believes Washington lawmakers should hear the “loud, clear voices” of Americans.
“You see, most members of Congress aren't interested first in doing the right things for the American people; their priority is about making decisions based on what will get them elected. My belief is that if you do what is right for the American people, then you will earn the right to be re-elected every two years.”
For White, choosing to run for the Dist. 7 congressional seat is about getting things done and making a difference, not about a career. “I don't have to be a congressman. I'm not running for a job; I'm running to serve.”
His frequent visits to Sampson indicates his understanding of the value this county plays in the Dist. 7 race and, while not a farmer, White was quick to point out his understanding of the importance of agriculture not just to Sampson but to America.
“Agriculture is vital to us all, one of the most important industries in our country, particularly in this district. It's our foundation. Being from Bladen County, I know what an all-important role agriculture has played in getting a lot of dirt roads paved in our county, putting a lot of clothes on people's backs, food on my table and the tables of my friends and neighbors. It's that way across the country, really, and I know it's that way in Sampson.
“America cannot continue to turn its back on the farming community; I certainly won't. Not only is it a way of life we should protect, it's a major part of how we feed and educate our kids.”
Born in Kinston, White's family moved to Bladen when he was age 6. There, he said, is where he learned from his parents the importance of hard work, getting an education and the significance of maintaining strong family values. He spent two years as a student at Harrells Christian Academy, graduated from Southern University in Collegedale, Tenn. and got his law degree from the University of Nebraska.
Even today, he said, he has ties to Sampson, owning “a little shack I love” on Black River. “I absolutely love it there. When I'm not in New Hanover, you can usually find us there at our place in Harrells.”
He has had a law practice in New Hanover County for nearly 20 years. There, he said, he has worked to help people from all walks of life, giving him, he said, a real insight into the plight of average citizens just trying to make their way.
“I can and will continue to be their voice,” White said.
If he gets to Washington, White said his top priorities will be to repeal Obamacare, make tough choices to cut the national debt and to do what he can to help restore a level of respect for people in the federal government “by actually listening to what the American people have to say.”
“Obamacare is a bad law that is destroying our economy and job creation. When I meet with farmers, grocery store owners, manufacturers, they tell me they want Obamacare repealed because of how much it's destroying their ability to do their jobs, employ people, you name it.
As for the national debt, White said it was time lawmakers realized “we can't afford to fund everything. In government, we have said yes to everything for the last 20 years. We are out of the habit of prioritizing the basic core needs. That should be a strong military, basic social services to take care of our elderly and those disabled, our basic transportation and infrastructure, providing for National Security.”
And, he added, “this country cannot prop up every foreign government.”
It will take common sense, he said, to return to those principles, something he thinks, he brings to the table.
As a devout Christian and with a committed Christian family, White said he believes strongly in family values - something he and his wife Tammie are instilling in their own children - and restoring those values to an America that desperately needs its people to return to standing up for what they really believe.
“This country would be better off if more people focused on their core beliefs We'd be a better people and a better America,” White said.