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N.C. Rep. Jason Saine speaks to the public at a candidate forum held by the East Lincoln Betterment Association in Denver on Oct. 18.

Although he is running unopposed, N.C. Rep. Jason Saine said he has still been campaigning and encouraging people to get out the vote.

After being appointed in 2011 to fill N.C. Rep. Jonathan Rhyne’s seat, Saine, a Republican, is running for his third full-term in representing the state House’s 97th District.

“It’s kind of a mixed bag because I tend to still campaign. There’s not a real difference for me,” he said of this election cycle. “I still go and raise money and help other candidates. I attend the forums and go to the barbecues. There’s not a big downside for me because I kind of operate as if I have an opponent.”

Saine said this approach stems from his view that campaigns are ongoing.

“There’s never really a day off the campaign trail because every day is an opportunity to meet people, to talk about ideas, to hear concerns,” he said.

Saine said he is proud of the collaboration between him and local officials, such as county commissioners and school board members.

“For what people think of politics, the reality is in Lincoln County we have a very good interaction between the multiple bodies that make decisions,” he said.

He said there have been multiple joint meetings over the past few years to talk about issues such as school funding, and he said that collaboration is crucial for success.  

“We know what the challenges are, and I want to be someone who is a conduit for success,” he said.

Saine said he wants another term to try to make state government more efficient and friendly for the people who use it. He said common concerns he hears from his constituents have more to do with navigating governmental red tape or addressing the everyday concerns, like getting roads paved, rather than issues that have taken the national stage.

“I enjoy those types of issues and working on those types of issues, and that’s what drives me to seek office,” he said. “It’s not any one big issue overall.”

Some of his goals for another term include working on tax policy and working with the local school board and the state in getting more flexibility for the school calendar, an issue Lincoln County Board of Education Chair Mark Mullen mentioned at an Oct. 18 candidate forum. The state controls aspects of the public school calendar, and Mullen said this has made it difficult for Lincoln County students who want to take classes at the community college level, as the school schedules do not match up.

The biggest issue for Saine, however, is economic development and recruitment. He said the state has already made strides to create a tax climate and regulatory environment that was business-friendly, and he hopes to continue that.

Saine said when the economy is doing well that often takes care of other concerns people may have, and he said the constituents who have come to him have expressed the most concern about things like state government running well and not overreaching into people’s lives. He said issues like the controversy and national attention North Carolina has received over House Bill 2 are overblown and not what most people think about.

“These – what some people think are sexy – issues or hot-button issues are not really what the average citizen wants to talk about,” he said. “They really do talk about, ‘Can I get my road paved? Can I renew my license online?’ Those type of issues are what get people engaged, and that maybe downplays the role of the job, but that’s what they send me to Raleigh to do.”

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