Surry County residents will see a familiar name on the ballot in an upcoming Congressional race, and a local man is seeking to unseat U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx.
Surry County will once again be part of the state’s 5th Congressional District, as a result of a court-ordered redistricting effort. For the past two Congressional terms the county has been part of the 6th District.
Foxx, 73, of Banner Elk, represented the county’s residents prior to 2013. She will have to beat fellow Republican Pattie Curran, of Kernersville, in the primary before squaring off against one of three Democrats in November’s general election.
One of those possible Democrat foes is Jim Roberts, 71, of Pilot Mountain.
Before he gets a hack at Foxx, however, Roberts will first have to defeat Charlie Wallin, of Boone, and Josh Brannon, of Vilas, in the June 7 primary for the seat.
Local in the race
Roberts retired from the U.S. Army after 26 years of service in 1989. Upon his return to Surry County, he started Roberts Pest Control in Mount Airy, according to a biography provided by the Pilot Mountain resident’s campaign.
Now Roberts says the average American’s way of life is under assault. However, the retired business owner claims the threats are internal.
“My candidacy will focus on four areas that will help the average citizen in North Carolina’s 5th District — jobs, protecting the people’s money in Social Security and Medicare, protecting the people from preventable medical errors and the fight against the corporate takeover of American lives,” wrote Roberts.
According to Roberts, Surry County has lost 10,000 jobs since the turn of the century.
“I will use all the influence the position can muster to help bring jobs back to the hardworking families of the 5th District.”
Roberts indicated Social Security has made its way in front of Republican executioners in Washington. He’s concerned lawmakers want to raid the Social Security Trust Fund.
Preventable medical errors hit close to home for Roberts. In 2010, he was paralyzed from the chest down as a result of a surgery to correct an abdominal aneurysm.
He also stated preventable medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.
“Tort Reform is an example of laws that are working against the interests and rights of the average American while protecting huge medical corporations and doctors from accountability for the harm they have inflicted on their patients. The rhetoric that was used to enact Tort Reform was to eliminate ‘frivolous lawsuits’ and reduce medical malpractice insurance premiums,” wrote Roberts. “That was an outright lie.”
Roberts advocates for the creation of a National Patient Safety Board to investigate claims such as his own claim, for which he states he has received no explanation.
Roberts points to the food industry as another example of lawmakers putting the interests of corporations ahead of those of average Americans, taking issue with Foxx’s voting record.
He noted legislation which removed a requirement for meat packaging companies to declare from what country meat originates and a bill which blocks states from labeling genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as such.
“Your current representative, Virginia Foxx, voted yes on both of these Bills. Eighteen European countries including Russia have banned GMOs but your current Congressional representative doesn’t want you to know that you are buying it or feeding it to your family. That is just the opposite of big government in your life,” wrote Roberts.
“It’s my belief large corporations are buying our legislators at both the state and federal levels,” said Roberts in an interview Monday. “They’ve bought our government, and it’s changed it from a democracy to an oligarchy.”
Roberts offered a 2013 Senate hearing regarding preventable medical errors as an example of corruption in the District of Columbia. He said only three of 22 senators attended the hearing.
“They were so purchased they didn’t even show up.”
According to Roberts, a Surry County resident hasn’t represented the county in Congress since 1947.
An old face in a new district
Foxx, who would enter her seventh term in Congress if re-elected, was unavailable for an interview Monday. However, her campaign did release a statement.
“Our nation is at a historic crossroads. President Obama and his liberal allies have tried to take us down a road of government coercion, higher taxes and soul-crushing regulation. North Carolina voters from all walks of life tell me virtually every day that we cannot go any farther down that road,” quoted a statement produced by the Foxx campaign.
“They are right — which is why I’m running for Congress.”
“It’s time to put an end to the Obama administration’s era of incompetence and big-government boondoggles. I’m confident that my record of holding this administration and its liberal allies accountable speaks for itself, so I promise to continue fighting tirelessly to put conservative ideas to work if given the honor of representing the 5th District in Congress,” reads the statement.
Foxx also said she is looking forward to having Surry County residents back in her district.
“I’m especially excited about the opportunity to represent the people of Surry County in Congress. In the past I’ve represented Surry County, and this beautiful corner of the state is just plain quintessential North Carolina. It would be an honor to work on behalf of the people of this great county.”
The new 5th Congressional District spans from Sugar Mountain east to Kernersville and Sandy Ridge. The district extends south of Taylorsville.
Andy is a staff writer and can be reached at 415-4698.