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News State / Region FreedomWorks holds GOP debate for members

Mark MeadowsPatterson and Meadows square off before July runoff.

The Macon County Chapter of FreedomWorks hosted a debate on Saturday for Republican candidates vying for the 11th Congressional District seat in a July runoff. The seat opened up after current Congressman Health Shuler (D-Waynesville) announced late last year that he would not seek reelection.

The event was closed to the public but more than 50 members of FreedomWorks filled the meeting room at Angel Medical Center on Saturday morning to listen to Mark Meadows of Cashiers and Vance Patterson of Morganton, Republican contenders for the District 11 Congressional Seat. The forum, which was moderated by Senator Jim Davis (R-50), was broadcast live on Franklin's radio station 1050 AM, and featured an array of challenging questions.

The Congressional hopefuls answered questions on topics including Agenda 21, the national debt, economic recovery, national security, taxes and way that voters in Macon County can help whichever candidate gets sent to face the Democratic candidate, Hayden Rogers, in the November election.

Although 11 candidates originally signed up for the May 8 primary, eight ended up on the ballot, and of the eight candidates, Meadows won 37.9 percent or 35,733 of the 93,576 votes cast across the 17-county district, and Patterson won 23.62 percent or 22,306 votes. Because neither candidate received the 40 percent of the votes needed to avoid a runoff, the two contenders will face off once again on July 17 for the runoff election. The two candidates are considerably similar on political views as well as professional experience. Both men are family oriented businessmen who vow to shape their political decisions around their experience in business as well as by their religious convictions.

Among the distinguishing factors in the two candidates, is their approach to job growth throughout the region. Patterson is a Kansas City, Mo., native who graduated from Hanover College in Hanover, Ind. in 1972 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics. He owns and operates Patterson Fan Company in Burke County, which makes industrial fans. He informed the crowd that through his manufacturing experience and what he has learned by starting 16 companies throughout his professional career, he plans to have 100 percent employment in the district in four years by creating 17,500 jobs. “Full employment in Western North Carolina in four years—my jobs plan is in print and deals on the local level—of bringing companies and jobs from across the country and around the world to Western North Carolina. I’m not good at waiting. I want to get it done.”

Vance PattersonPatterson's jobs plan identifies that in order to fill the 17,500 jobs, 73 manufacturing companies of 48 employees need to be established. Patterson also believes that it is essential to revise current Trade Laws that affect WNC such as NAFTA, CAFTA and Asian Trade agreements.

Patterson, who also vowed to voters that if elected he plans to work in Congress for six years, also informed voters that the entire time he would serve as a congressman, he would work for free. “If elected, I would return my yearly salary of $174,000 back to charities in the district.”

Meadows, who after majoring in business management, opened a restaurant in Macon County more than 27 years ago, believes that his work ethic and professional success makes him the perfect fit for Congress. Meadows explained that his plan for economic growth is centered around decreasing the government's involvement in business development, “I look at a jobs plan that does not pick winners and losers,” he said. “I look at a jobs plan that quite frankly what it will do is reduce regulation, reduce taxes, come up with energy that obviously is being a direct impediment to growth. It will also allow us to take earnings from abroad and bring them back in tax free, so that we can create jobs again.”

Meadows told the group that he wanted to represent the 11th District in Congress because he has a dedication to serving and helping his friends and neighbors. “Even without being an elected official, I have worked with several people in this room on problems that concern them,” said Meadows. “That is what I plan to continue doing if given the opportunity to have the honor of being your nomination to represent this district.”

Founded in 1984, FreedomWorks is headquartered in Washington, DC and has hundreds of thousands of grassroots volunteers nationwide. The organization is chaired by former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey and the organization's President is Matt Kibbe.

FreedomWorks members work to prove that the government goes to those who show up, and are leading the fight for lower taxes, less government, and more Vance Patterson freedom.


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