N.C. House District 3 Republican candidates were sent the following questions by GateHouse Media in advance of the May 8 primary election. Incumbent Michael Speciale and Eric Queen are running for the seat to represent parts of Craven County. The primary winner will face one of two Democratic challengers, Charles Dudley or Barbara Lee.
Seeking: N.C. House Dist. 3
Political party: Republican
City of residence
Michael Speciale: New Bern
Eric Queen: New Bern
Best way for voters to contact you
Speciale: 252-635-5326 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Queen: Email email@example.com.
Why are you running?
Speciale: To continue making North Carolina great!
Queen: I want to set the example for not only my own children, but for everyone possible, to let them know that sometimes it takes ordinary everyday people to stand up and be the change we want to see. To set the example that it is possible to stand on conservative principles, but to also show decency and respect for those who disagree with you. That we as political leaders can choose to be role models for a younger generation and show them that regardless of political differences we can work together with mutual respect to better the lives of the citizens that put us in office. To show that this is our country and this government works for us, not lobbyist or interest groups. Just like many others, I too am tired of the complete lack of common sense being displayed by politicians on both sides of the political spectrum.
What experience do you have that makes you a good fit for this office?
Speciale: Three terms in this position. Former Chairman of the Craven County GOP, former Chairman of the Coastal Carolina Taxpayers Association (CCTA), founder and Chairman of the Joint Freedom Caucus, Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, Military and Veterans Affairs, as well as being a member of eight other committees to include the House Select Committee on School Safety.
Queen: I have had the honor of serving in multiple leadership roles throughout my highly successful military career which have prepared me to be effective as your next state representative. However; after I am elected the number one experience I bring to the General Assembly is the life experience and perspective of the everyday person. I am not politically connected in anyway. I actually know what it is like to have lived pay check to pay check. I am a veteran who has seen service members fall in battle and others succumb to depression and suicide at home. I have served as a first responder on traffic stops and responded to assist victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. I have children attending our public schools, and family members who struggle to find decent work. I know that it is my responsibility to raise my children not the government’s. Most of all, I know that the General Assembly and all government works for us not the other way around.
If elected, what would you do to stay transparent as an elected official?
Speciale: I hold a Legislative Townhall meeting in all three of the counties that I represent at the conclusion of each session. I spend a lot of time calling, mailing, and emailing the citizens in District 3 and all of that will continue.
Queen: Lobbyist and interest groups should know that any conversation or meeting we have I will immediately make public record. In fact, appointments set with these groups will be identified to the public prior to them being conducted. These relationships will be strictly business and my job is to do what is in the best interest of the citizens I am elected to represent. I will utilize technology, such as social media, to ensure that the citizens of my district are able to get the full text of any bills being debated by the General Assembly before a vote. These tools are already available for current lawmakers and the fact that they do not use them to engage with the citizens they are elected to represent and be transparent is telling. You will not need a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to know what I am doing.
What would you do on the state level to address mental health and substance abuse treatment options in the district?
Speciale: I am on the House committee that is looking into solutions regarding mental health and our schools, and I continue to support all actions in the House that improve our mental health facilities. We are looking at ways to address the many issues that have developed in recent years, such as people with mental health issues being thrown in the county jails instead of getting the help they need, as well as the opioid crisis.
Queen: On the mental health side, beginning with our youth, we need to look at creating access to clinical services within the school systems by utilizing resources already in place by increasing clinical training to school counselors and social workers. We should also increase the SRO and School Counselor presence and allow these individuals to engage in positive prevention programs (Such as Social and Emotional Learning which has been proven to increase peer relationship quality, decrease mental health problems and school behavioral problems). The state should also look at incentives for highly trained, highly qualified psychologists and psychiatrists to work in areas with less access. The private sector is best suited to provide proper and effective substance abuse treatment. The state needs to provide financial assistance when appropriate to establish treatment programs and facilities, but then stay away from regulating how the professionals in addiction treatment tackle this problem.
If elected, what would be your first order of business?
Speciale: I will continue to push the bills that I currently support, and I will continue to support those issues that have turned North Carolina into the best state for business, one of only nine states with a AAA bond rating, as well as looking into the issues stated in the previous paragraph (the opioid crisis, etc.).
Queen: My first order of business will be to organize the goals and priorities of my district’s locally elected officials, business leaders, community leaders and everyday citizens so that we can effectively work together to bring real resources to Craven County. I will not be going to Raleigh to push my personal agenda. I will be going to Raleigh to do what representatives are supposed to do and that is to act in the best interest of the people they represent. You do that by creating a teamwork environment which brings together all communities in our district so that we are pushing to meet the needs of everyone together.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Speciale: My efforts in the General Assembly are unique, in that I routinely work with folks in Craven, Pamlico and Beaufort counties to accomplish all that we have accomplished. This district has become one of the most active areas of the state with regard to participation in the activities of the General Assembly. Every week, folks from this district are knocking on doors of Representatives and Senators, making phone calls and my efforts are a result of a good working relationship with the people of this district as well as the folks in Raleigh. Teamwork is what is winning the effort for us here in Craven County, and I want to continue to be a part of that winning team!
Queen: There is no doubt it is time for a change in who represents us at the General Assembly. We need a state representative that truly understands not only how to be a leader, but more importantly how to effectively work as a team. We cannot be isolated from the rest of the state at the General Assembly and expect to see resources come to Craven County. I will fix that. I will work with your locally elected officials, business leaders, community leaders and other members of the General Assembly to bring real resources to the citizens of Craven County.