The GOP looks to retain its “super majority” in the House of over the two-thirds of votes needed to help override Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes. This race is drawing much campaigning, with various outlets and supporters.
Both personable candidates are longtime Transylvanians. Henson is a Rosman native. He was a Marine Reserve for six recent years, rising to rank of corporal and to infantry machine gun team leader. Henson was a Rosman Tiger point guard, and linebacker-fullback. He and wife Kelsey (Meece) Henson have two young children, Bo and two-month-old daughter Presley.
Henson said earlier this year that at age 26, he is the youngest state representative in North Carolina. The first-term Republican represents Henderson County’s southern third (such as Flat Rock and Crab Creek) along with all of Transylvania and Polk counties in District 113. The seat has been in GOP hands for with three reps in a row from Transylvania in Trudi Walend, Chris Whitmire for two terms, and now Henson.
Henson is used to going toe to toe with Democrats old enough to be his grandparent. In 2016 he defeated Democrat Maureen Mahan Copelof of Brevard, who was 62.
Edney, 68, a Brevard businessman, grew up in Henderson County’s Valley Hill community on a farm with pigs, cows and apples. The land was in his family since right after the Civil War. He graduated from East Henderson and from A-B Tech in 1970. He descends from the extensive Edney clan that first lived in this state in 1679. (Mike Edney, who chairs the Henderson County Commission, said he is at most a distant relative of Sam.)
Sam Edney for the last 30 years has run Pisgah Pest Control (with 24 employees), based in Brevard. Previously, he was an industrial engineer with Ecusta for a dozen years. His parents were both textile workers. He has been known to many in Brevard as a solid intermediate-rated tennis player.
His main stands are to “invest in public education and economic development,” to “bring pro-living wage jobs,” also to “fight for healthcare, and defend against anti-gerrymandering and environmental rollbacks.” He states that “clean drinking water is our most basic right,” he wants to keep up environmental agency funding levels and to stem legislative influence of polluting companies.
Former Transylvania school board member Edney calls for a state school bond, further teacher raises to get N.C. closer to the national teacher pay average, and more teacher assistants and mental health counselors. “Let’s take care of our teachers, who take care of our children” is his motto on a mailer card. Retired Henderson County teacher John Whitmire said in a video endorsement that “Sam is a local boy. He wants to work for education.”
Edney endorses a “statewide medical cannabis (pot) program.” On health care, he wants more money to go to treatments such as for drug abuse. He said studies indicate nearly half of children in foster care in the district are there because their parents have opioid addiction.
He said that is partly why “it’s time to expand Medicaid, and close the insurance coverage gap so that our working class people can have affordable health care.” Class conflict is a staple of many Democrat campaigns. Edney’s policy statements include “We need to stop giving massive tax breaks to corporations, and leave all the wealth to a handful at the top.”
On job training, he wants more aid for “training to qualify our workers, and to attract companies to beautiful western North Carolina.” He said a growing need is learning to “work with robots and computer-run machines,” and “the jobs your kids or grandkids will do when they grow up may not even exist yet.” He said extending broadband internet in rural areas is a way to improve infrastructure to “incentivize good industries and provide small business what they need.”
Edney criticizes redistricting, an action both parties when in power have done for decades. One of his mailers claims “Raleigh puppet Cody Henson failed our studnets, by putting corporate tax cuts over our children.”
“My opponent has failed to listen to the people he serves,” Edney charged in a press release when announcing he would survey voters. “I want to change that. I want to know from the start what’s in the hearts and minds of my neighbors. That way, when I represent them in Raleigh, I will know what they expect of me.”
On the other side, some mailers go after Edney as a typical big spender and otherwise towing the liberal line. A state GOP card states: “When Sam Edney signed up to support a radical agenda, he turned his back on western North Carolina and our businesses” in favor of laws that “hurt N.C. families, kill our jobs and the economy” and prompting business closures.
“Does Sam want more illegal voting (for Democrats)?” is a state GOP mailer card reference to the parties split on requiring voter IDs. “Same Edney simply doesn’t care about the integrity of our elections.”
Henson co-sponsored the bill to get on the ballot such referendums as to bring back voter ID, to stem fraudulent voting. He spoke on the House floor for the amendment reaffirming hunting and fishing rights. He notes he grew up hunting and fishing locally, and it is a “way of life” in the mountains.
Cody H. Henson is on six committees — Finance, Homeland Security, Military and Veteran Affairs; Regulatory Reform, Education (K-12), Wildlife Resources, and the pivotal House Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting.
He points to lower tax rates for most state taxpayers with further reductions kicking in come January, a 6.5 percent pay raise for teachers (their fifth yearly one in a row) and eight percent more for state troopers in the current budget.
He wants money to schools focused on the classroom, not bureaucracy. He is proud that lottery revenue is going more for education as originally intended, and $100 million of it went for school construction in poorer rural counties last year.
Henson backs priority needs such as to improve roads, amidst “responsible spending.” He opposes costly Medicaid expansion which he said would cost $72 billion and triple the current cost. Though $30 billion of that would come from D.C., that is only initially and it takes a severe tax increase to keep up the higher spending. He prefers “free market” insurance solutions, which Democrats counter are insufficient. Henson said he is for more solar and other clean renewable energy.
He said he will keep promoting the Stop the Bleed effort across the state that began in August. School administrators and resource officers such as in Transylvania County have trained on how to deal with any violent emergency.
Henson co-sponsored a bill to provide comprehensive firearm education for select employees in schools. “No one should needlessly die in the event of an active shooter scenario,” he said. “We owe it to our children and teachers to add this extra layer of security, when we discuss school safety.”
Henson’s bill that passed the House but not Senate would increase prison penalties for convictions of felons on crimes with a gun, and for the property-related offense of breaking and entering. This is part of GOP focus on punishing gun-wielding criminals rather than making gun permits much more difficult for law-abiding citizens.
Henson espouses “Christian conservatism,” with “values of family, respect for others, and hard work” and to “empower people” rather than saddle businesses with costly regulations. He said he is “one of the most pro-business voices in Raleigh,” wanting lower business taxes and to “keep government out of the way.”
Henson has cited bills he was primary or co-sponsor on, starting with a dozen in his first year in office in ‘17. He secured money for a National Guard training facility in DuPont State Forest. He said “that cuts the wait time by over half,” for a helicopter for emergency rescues, instead of waiting for one from Salisbury.
A Henson-sponsored bill that passed the House would waive community college tuition for senior citizens. He co-sponsored a bill to put party affiliation back onto the ballot for superior and district court races.
He was one of three who introduced a repeal of sales tax on RMI (repair, maintenance and installation services) that advanced to the Rules Committee. He co-sponsored a bill to make judicial candidates’ party affiliation open to better understand their likely perspectives, rather than veiled as in current non-partisan elections.
For more on each of these two candidates and their policy stands, check electsamedney.com and codyhensonnc.com.