Hanig, Judge to vie in House 6
By William F. West
Monday, October 8, 2018
Next month’s general election in state House District 6 features the chairman of the Currituck County Board of Commissioners running against a Dare County businesswoman long active in her community’s civic life.
Republican Bobby Hanig will face off against Democrat Tess Judge in the Nov. 6 contest. The winner will represent the newly redrawn House district that includes Currituck, Dare, Hyde and Pamlico counties.
Hanig, who’s making his first bid for the Legislature, is approaching the midway point of his first four-year term on the Currituck Board of Commissioners and serves as the board’s chairman. He defeated the incumbent in House District 6, Beverly Boswell, in the May 8 primary.
Judge is technically making her second bid for the House District 6 seat. Her late husband, Warren, was the 2016 Democratic nominee for the seat before his unexpected death a few days before the general election. The Democratic Party named Tess Judge to replace him on the ballot; she lost to Boswell.
During phone interviews last week, Hanig and Judge both discussed the reasons why they’re running and some of their priorities if elected.
Hanig, the 54-year-old owner of a pool cleaning business, said he's running because of his desire to serve both his community and state. Hanig also wants help sustain the momentum he says the Republican-controlled General Assembly has created in North Carolina since 2010 by cutting taxes, increasing the state’s financial reserves and raising pay for school teachers.
Hanig said he’s found out a lot about what voters want in his travels across the district during the campaign.
"What I have learned is that everywhere you go, people have the same basic needs,” he said. “They want their kids educated. They want their taxes lowered. They want to be safe in their community."
What’s been particularly thrilling, he said, is getting to meet all kinds of different people.
"It has been an absolute pleasure meeting these people, learning what they're about, what they do for a living, and understanding their needs," he said.
Judge said she, too, has enjoyed meeting District 6 residents and hearing their concerns.
“I’ve met wonderful people in all four counties,” she said. “I have met people that are looking for the good of the future.”
Asked why she’s running for the Legislature, the 69-year-old motel manager said she wants to be in a position to ensure rural areas get the same attention from lawmakers that urban areas do.
She also believes she can be a strong voice for the region as well as someone who can work collaboratively with others, regardless of political party or point of view.
"I feel that our citizens are wanting a leader that is willing to look at the good on the right, look at the good on the left — there's good points both ways — and come together and find some common ground where we can move our state forward," Judge said. "I think everybody is ready to see some consensus building because that's going to be in the best interest of everybody."
Both Hanig and Judge agree that public education remains a key issue for District 6 voters.
North Carolina's average teacher salary currently is $51,214. However, that’s because many local school districts supplement the state's base salary for teachers. The average local supplement this spring was $4,337.
The National Education Association’s 2017 data put North Carolina’s average teacher salary at $49,970, ranking the state 39th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The NEA said that nationwide, the average teacher salary in 2017 was $59,660.
Although she didn’t provide a specific dollar amount, Judge said North Carolina's schoolteachers need to be compensated for value they bring to the state. She said teacher pay needs to return to growth levels the state had prior to the Great Recession.
Judge said she hears the concerns about young people going off to college and not returning to live and work in northeastern North Carolina. She said one of her focuses is on increasing employment opportunities for them in the region. She supports the idea of establishing trade schools and increasing vocational education to provide as many opportunities for residents to earn a living for their families.
Hanig believes state lawmakers have already done a great deal to increase teacher pay. At the same time, more needs to be done, he said, particularly “to bring in quality teachers.”
In speaking with teachers and parents, Hanig said the concern he hears a lot centers on how public dollars are spent once they reach a school district’s central office.
"When teachers have to pay for their own copy paper or pens or markers, we're not doing a service to our teachers or to our students, primarily our students," he said.
It’s a problem Hanig believes can be fixed.
“It’s going to take some hard decisions — and a little bit of a culture change,” he said. Hanig believes teachers need to put aside their fear of reprisal from administrators and be more courageous about speaking up about their needs.
Hanig also believes there needs to be a cultural shift about the necessity of a four-year college degree to landing a good job. He notes the gap between the skills business owners say they need and the number of available workers possessing those skills.
"I think if you were to poll a construction company or a plumbing company or an electrical company, their No. 1 inhibitor to growth is personnel," he said.
Asked about other issues on voters’ minds, Hanig said many are concerned about promoting and preserving the district’s hunting and fishing heritage and tourism economy.
Judge said voters she’s talked with have concerns about the economy and access to health services. They also want better infrastructure, specifically for high-speed internet service, and more open and transparent government, she said.
Political party: Republican
Occupation: Owner, the Pool Guy
Education: High school diploma
Military service: U.S. Army, 1984-88, earned rank of sergeant
Past political campaigns: Ran unopposed for Currituck commissioner in 2016
Civic/community affiliations: Past chairman, Northeast Workforce Development Board; past vice chairman, Currituck Chamber of Commerce; serves on two boards at Trillium Health Resources
Family: Grown daughter
Political party: Democratic
Occupation: Hospitality management
Education: High school diploma
Military service: None
Past political campaigns: Ran unsuccessfully for the state House in District 6 after being appointed the Democratic nominee in the wake of her husband, Warren’s death
Civic/community affiliations: Board member, Outer Banks Hospital; board member, Food for Thought Outer Banks; also has served in a number of posts at the Episcopal Church
Family: Four grown children; 10 grandchildren