AshevilleHendersonvilleNews Stories

Dennis Justice brings daring ideas to state Senate race


Dennis Justice is among three GOP candidates for the 48th State Senate district. Photo by Pete Zamplas

Justice joins Lisa Carpenter Baldwin and Chuck Edwards on the GOP primary ballot for March 15. The winner will face lone Democrat Norman Bossert, on Nov. 8. The district encompasses Henderson and Polk counties, and South Buncombe.

Dennis Grover Justice, 45, has been a maverick with unique and intriguing ideas, dry wit and eccentricity in public comment sessions of various local governments in Henderson County for some 20 years. He has challenged many county spending decisions and projects, and proposed mostly recreation-based ones.

He opposes the $2 billion state bond referendum on the primary ballot, for college buildings including nearly $3 million for Blue Ridge Community College. He points to his helping defeat the local bond for schools in 1997.

The longtime Fletcher resident has run for various local political offices. He nearly became a county commissioner in 2000, coming within a few hundred votes and carrying one-third of precincts. He was once president of the Henderson County Republican Men’s Club. Most recently, he has twice lost challenges of commissioner Charlie Messer.

As a constitutionalist with a tinge of hands-off Libertarianism, Justice has long called for liberties with very limited government. His listed issue stances include legalizing medical marijuana. He is avid for gun ownership and other rights.

The “Lincoln conservative” said he “believes in freedom and tolerance for all, and will pursue a path to debt-free government.” He pledges to work at it full-time, do much research himself rather than “depend on special interest groups, and serve no more than two terms.

He dove into politics as part of Ross Perot’s United We Stand America, when the Texan businessman ran for president in 1992. Justice strongly seeks independent voters. He said that if elected, “when the crisis comes I don’t care about anyone’s registration … orientation … (or) pigmentation.”

He is a widower with five children. Born in Sanford, Fla., he has lived in Henderson County since he was eight. His grandfather William Leonard Justice owned the packinghouse near the Justice Academy in Edneyville. His great-grandfather was Zeb Corn.

Dennis Justice graduated from East Henderson High School in 1988. He earned online bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sports administration from American Military University, with a perfect 4.0 GPA in graduate school.

He is a Christian ordained minister. He quotes Romans 13:8 that says “owe no man anything but to love one another. For he that has loved another has fulfilled the law.”

He calls himself the working class candidate. He is a welder. His resume is sports-infused. He was the mascot for the pro hockey Asheville Smoke, which was here in 1998-2002, and was vice-president of its booster club. He and is an active volunteer with the Asheville-Buncombe Regional Sports Commission.

He is trying to bring to Asheville a team in the soccer indoor hardcourt Professional Futsal (“room football” in Spanish) League, that is slated to begin next year. He has run a company to create sports leagues such as in rugby. Justice played on the first East Eagles soccer team, and lettered in golf. He was an executive assistant for Coach Henry Lee Logan’s basketball leagues and camps.

On the county level, Justice above others has pushed for installing artificial turf in the four local high school. Buncombe County did so to reduce rain-outs, injury-prone conditions and field repairs. But Henderson County shelved the idea its initial cost, behind other priorities.

His outside-the-box ideas include legalizing horse racing to fund such recreational projects as the proposed Ecusta Trail, parks, soccer fields, greenways and community centers.

His main ideas include a new domed arena/regional disaster shelter he calls the WNC Dome. He wants the dome at the WNC Agricultural Center. He considers emergency management a prime state role. “I’ll look at concrete domes for schools (gyms), (affordable) housing, emergency shelters” and indoor agriculture, he said at a recent forum.

He terms these among his “common-sense solutions.” He said erecting a dome is “the most cost-effective way to build an arena, is energy-efficient, and most importantly can be a disaster shelter. It has proven to repel the effects of tornadoes and hurricanes. So FEMA grants are very possible. We could shelter people anywhere from the Carolinas, if a major hurricane is coming.”

He researched these “monolithic” concrete domes. He toured a large church in Birmingham, Ala. in 2012, and was amazed how its dome “survived a horrific mile-in-diameter EF-4 tornado, the one that killed over 80” in 2011.

He also wants a dome for a “cost-effective gymnasium” on newly-acquired land beside Hendersonville High School.

He wants “massive increases in online education and libraries, and a regional plan for ultra-high-speed-Internet in all rural counties to reduce youth flight” for jobs. In ’97, he suggested teaching more using computers (then an emerging technology) and less from textbooks.

He is for “working hard, and always dreaming.”

Above all “I saved you millions of dollars by helping defeat the 1997 school bond referendum,” he declared at a recent GOP breakfast group’s monthly candidate forum. He campaigned against it via a non-partisan group. “I worked with a team of Republicans, Democrats and independents to defeat that referendum,” he said.

“It was too much money for too few schools,” he said. “We’re spending too much money on school construction, and not paying the teachers.” He wants state lottery revenue to go for higher teacher pay.

Justice urges a “pay as you go” approach instead of borrowing and paying off existing debt. He called for this back on Dec. 1, 1997, when he spoke to commissioners against bonds for school improvements. He calls for a state constitutional amendment, to limit all future state and local debts to four years.

Five years ago, he helped defeat Henderson County’s planned purchase of a golf course at the edge of Flat Rock, for use as a public park with a multi-field soccer complex that nearby residents felt would disrupt them. Instead, the Village of Flat Rock bought the land and turned it into a park.

For more on his campaign, check

Share this story
Show More

Related Articles