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Lisa Baldwin brings conservative values, in bid for state senate seat

LisaBaldwin1A_Lisa RS

Baldwin lives in Buncombe County, in the greater Fletcher area near Burney Mountain. She, McDonald’s franchisee Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville and Dennis Justice of Fletcher contend in the March 15 Republican primary.

They aspire to succeed Sen. Tom Apodaca (R-Hendersonville) in the 48th District. The winner on Nov. 8 will face sole Democrat candidate Norm Bossert, a school principal from Pisgah Forest. He lost a state rep race two years ago.

The GOP candidates spoke at such candidates’ forums as two monthly GOP breakfasts. The last one was Saturday. The next forum in Hendersonville is at the Opportunity House Thursday, Feb. 25. It starts at 6:30 p.m. for state senate candidates, and at 8 p.m. for 113th District state house hopefuls.

The 48th Senate District covers Henderson and Buncombe counties, and South Buncombe. In a major development, Gov. Pat McCrory stated last week the March 15 primary will go on, even as congressional redistricting is legally forced on North Carolina by a recent federal trial court ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court — deadlocked 4-4 after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died last week — on Friday rejected the state’s request for a stay. This sustains the three-judge panel’s ruling on Feb. 5. It seeks to undo clustering in 2011 of black voters into districts 1 and 12 (along I-85) that diminishes their impact in neighboring districts. The newly-drawn map was passed Friday.

Congressional primaries are delayed three months to June 7, to give time for redistricting and its impact. But other races will go on March 15, as Gov. Pat McCory pledged Feb. 15 in a statewide phone town forum.

Baldwin, 51, served four years as an active dissenter on the Buncombe school board. It is the state’s 13th largest school district. She won election in 2010, then lost reelection in 2014. Buncombe is deemed much more politically liberal than Henderson and other area counties.

As she did in school elections, she garners support of many area Asheville Tea Party members. Baldwin noted she is a “strict constitutionalist, and fiscal and social conservative.”

As a strict constitutionalist, Baldwin believes “all decisions must be viewed through the lens of the state constitution, North Carolina’s governing document.” She said at a forum in Hendersonville “That’s why I’m running. I’m a strict constitutionalist, because I want to preserve that freedom and liberty my ancestors fought so hard for. I believe we have to look at the state constitution and the U.S. Constitution at all our decision-making at the state level.”

She calls for sharp budget reform. “I will call for more transparency and accountability from government agencies,” she stated. “Each agency should build its budget from the ground up — zero-based budgeting. Only core government services should be funded with valuable taxpayer dollars.”

Baldwin was a U.S. Agriculture economist in 1988-93. She analyzed household food consumption and costs. Her degrees are in family and consumer economics from UNC-Greensboro in 1987, then a 1990 University of Maryland master’s in economic policy and law with a focus on consumerism. Her master’s thesis was on energy policy, household energy use and renewable energy.

“Christian, conservative, constitutionalist” is a campaign slogan. She said her school board “successes” are what earned her in 2012 a conservative John Locke Foundation leadership award and the UNCG Alumni Pacesetter Award.

She is now a Tribune Papers columnist, as a local “conservative government watchdog.” She gives a four-minute synopsis of weekly Tribune stories, on WHKP 1450 AM at 11:30 a.m. Fridays. Her blog is on N.C. Students First.

Immigration policy is an issue she believes sharply distinguishes her from Edwards, who is backed by the local Chamber of Commerce. There is debate on his views, compared to state and national chamber endorsement of illegal alien amnesty to boost the work force. Local Chamber Exec. Dir. Bob Williford told The Tribune a letter Edwards co-signed about immigration was general and did not call for amnesty.

Baldwin firmly opposes such amnesty. “I support state laws that reform immigration — like H.B. 318 — by protecting public safety, reducing identity fraud, and discouraging illegal immigration to the state by making it harder (for illegals) to find jobs,” she stated. She applauds the state’s voter I.D. law and prohibition of sanctuary cities that do not enforce immigration laws. “But more needs to be done to secure our borders, enforce existing immigration laws, and ensure a (legal, patient) path to citizenship for those who truly ascribe to our U.S. Constitution and American way of life.”

She backs Gov. McCrory’s drive to stop or slow the federally-forced flow of refugees from the Mideast into the Tar Heel State. “We can’t allow Syrian refugees in here, unless they’ve been properly vetted,” she said. “I have (job, security) concerns if many young men come here.” She likes the idea of requiring fingerprinting, to better detect criminal and terrorist links.

Baldwin touts her public service experience. “I have a proven track record on the school board, for getting things done. I employ multiple strategies, to accomplish those goals.”

Her assertiveness has been spotlit, such as a topic at candidate forums. She said she rattles with content, more than style. “I’m a truth-seeker. I do my research,” she told The Tribune. In making her points, “I won’t sugar-coat the truth.”

She calmly added, “I don’t feel I ever ‘grandstanded.’ That’s a derogatory word they coined. I was standing up for parents’, students’ and teachers’ rights. It wasn’t just that they (board colleagues) were liberal. They were for the status quo. They didn’t want to do the right things. They were in some other universe.”

She felt as a lone warrior, who had to speak strongly to draw attention to compelling issues. When asked to what extent she might be as forcefully outspoken in the General Assembly, she foresees more flexibility of style in adapting to a “different environment” with far greater balance of views.

She opposes the $2 billion state bond referendum on the primary ballot, for college buildings including nearly $3 million for Blue Ridge Community College. She terms it a “‘pork barrel’ of pet political projects that will saddle the next generation with debt. It is, essentially, a tax increase — contrary to its portrayal by the website,”

She figures with “on-line classes and distance learning, brick and mortar is less important than ensuring we have qualified master teachers.” Thus, “We need to pay bonuses for performance. You can measure a teacher’s quality, based on student growth.” A basic way is comparing tests from the start to end of the academic year.

To expand “school choice,” she espouses a State Education Savings Account to “allow the money to follow the child, increasing competition among public and private schools” and thus quality.

Baldwin feels she is right for the job, of prioritizing education and other needs. “Fifty-seven percent of the state budget is spent on education, which makes my school board experience invaluable,” she said. When on the board’s Finance Policy Committee, in 2013 “we created more than a dozen of internal financial controls — due to my persistence.”

For instance, she advocated cost-saving measures and an independent budget consultant, to guide spending. “Management control” will rely on “accurate, reliable and relevant data” with audits and periodic finance office reports to the Buncombe school board. The official policy notes this is to demonstrate money is handled legally, efficiently and “effectively.”

System wide, she helped push for greater cost-effectiveness and “continually assessing the needs, revenues and expenses.” Appropriated emergency fund balance should go for only “non-recurring expenditures, because it is a non-recurring resource.

To boost facility safety, she said she spurred a crackdown on electrical contractors after it was discovered a few lacked required permits for school projects.

Greater public input, board transparency, grievance channels and accountability were achieved — such as via “whistleblower” school worker protection against retaliation. Citizens can apply for school advisory councils — no longer having to be chosen by principals.

Common Core statewide guidelines should be scrapped, in favor of “academically-rigorous standards” such as Minnesota math standards that a committee recommended, Baldwin said. She is in the high-IQ MENSA group.

She made an appearance on Fox News television last year. She was quoted by name, regarding a school book content controversy with conservative Fox commentators on her side.

In spring of 2015, she challenged that use of Khaled Hosseini’s book The Kite Runner (with a grade level of 6.8), in an 10th grade English honors class her son Will was in. She objected to its blatant scene of a homosexual rape. “The pornographic content is not suitable for classroom instruction,” she told The Tribune. “Should students read details of a homosexual rape of a child (poor servant’s son)? There was no reading between the lines, to develop critical thinking.”

Baldwin urged requiring parental approval for teaching using books with such adult themes. A school committee upheld use of The Kite Runner.

She opposes publicly funding greenways such as the proposed Ecusta Trail. She pledges to “actively poll citizens on their concerns” in person.

Lisa Carpenter was Bessemer City High School Valedictorian in 1983, and a flutist. She graduated summa cum laude from UNCG, in ’87. In ‘90, she earned a master’s degree in economics from the University of Maryland. She was a graduate teaching assistant, and interned with the N.C. Attorney General’s office.

Her fifth great-grandfather, Christian Carpenter, was a signer of the Tryon Resolves on Aug.14, 1775. It protested British troops’ “unprecedented, barbarous and bloody actions” in early battles, and “hostile operations and treacherous designs now carrying on by the tools of ministerial vengeance.” That warranted taking “arms in defense of our national freedom and constitutional rights, against all invasions…,” the document further stated.

Carpenter “could have lost his life, his family and his fortune for freedom and liberty,” she said. So “inspired” by him, she gave his first name as her youngest child William Christian Baldwin’s middle name.

Richard and Lisa Baldwin have been married for 27 years. He is an IT specialist, for weather data of the climactic center in Asheville.

Their three eldest children were Reynolds valedictorians, who now study engineering. Taylor is pursuing a master’s at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in nuclear engineering. He eyes a national defense career, and researches on refining uranium, his mother said. Andrew (materials eng.) and daughter Madison (chemical eng.) are at N.C. State.

Lisa Baldwin is an N.C. GOP Executive Committee at-large representative for the 10th congressional district. She is vice-president of the Buncombe County Republican Women’s Club. For more on Lisa Baldwin and her campaign, check

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