Gary is taking a break from blogging. Our guest Tapster today is Joe Stewart of JRS Strategy Group.
Part of my work as former Political Director at NC Chamber involved seeking out solid business-minded people to run for the General Assembly.
Someone I met in 2010 pursing this goal was Rick Catlin. Personal and professional considerations precluded him from running then, but he did in 2012 and got elected to represent House District 20 in New Hanover County (and has been selected by his fellow freshmen Republicans as leader of that caucus).
Catlin fit perfectly the disposition I was looking for then, and I am glad he’s joined the legislature now.
The owner of a Wilmington-based environmental engineering firm (that does work internationally, so Catlin clearly get’s ‘global’ part of North Carolina’s place in a global economy), he’s a pragmatic, bottom line kinda businessperson who understands the pressures faced making a payroll every week.
But, he’s also forward-looking (he told me back in 2010 that ‘you have to think ahead if your business involves building drinking water reservoirs’) and understands the connection between infrastructure investments, economic vitality and job creation.
I caught up with him recently and ask about initial impressions of legislative service: ‘We are moving fast and with a sense of urgency, a much quicker pace than in the past as those members with longer tenure keep telling us newbies.’
In terms of the issues faced this session: ‘We must focus on finding greater efficiencies so we can keep the cost of state government down. And just like in my business, if North Carolina is to encourage economic growth and the jobs that brings, it’s about making smart investments and figuring out how to be better than any of our competitors – and we must do more to promote North Carolina all around world.’
Other thoughts: ‘Engineers, by training, work to bring solutions to the problems they find. With three others from my profession in the House (the largest number anyone can remember being in this body at any one time), I’m pretty confident there’s not much we can’t handle.’
At a time when ideological divisions and partisan divides seem to drown out reasoned discussion and debate on public policies, I think North Carolina would be well served if both political parties could encourage a few more business-minded folks like Rick Catlin (and there are others in the body now, but we could always use more) to consider serving in the General Assembly.