MARION — Retired McDowell County Sheriff and Avery County native Dudley Greene (R) is running to represent Avery, Mitchell and McDowell counties in the North Carolina House of Representatives, which has was formerly occupied by another Avery County native, Representative Josh Dobson, who is currently running for NC Commissioner of Labor.
Greene, whose parents operated a nursery in Newland, graduated from Avery High School in 1981. He then entered into a career in law enforcement that spanned 30 years. Before becoming the McDowell County Sheriff, he worked for the Newland Police Department, the Avery County Sheriff’s Office and as a detective and jail administrator in McDowell County.
“I’m very pro-public safety, and I do intend to make it one of my focuses, along with education. I’m pro-business, especially small business. Anything I can do to help stimulate or support that, I certainly want to do,” Greene said.
While Greene says that he is learning the ins-and-outs of the General Assembly, his strong background in law enforcement provides a keen insight in the issues and areas of public safety that he says he will seek to improve.
“As a matter of fact, I think that where we can, we need to give law enforcement more resources. If there’s not public safety, there’s not an environment for business, education or anything else in the state,” Greene said. “I think we certainly need to try to keep in place funding opportunities that have been out there, whether they be grants and that type of thing. If there’s ways we can expand through additional training and funding, that’s what we need to do.”
As a state legislator, Greene says that he will write laws and vote on bills that help improve businesses and the economy in the district. At a time when the pandemic has left businesses such as restaurants, movie theaters and event venues in financial jeopardy, Greene says that as a state representative he would help remove regulations that slow the local economy.
“Businesses have had a real hard time during the shutdowns. While I understand that we need to be responsible in the way we (handle the virus), I think the state has been somewhat inconsistent. I certainly hope that we can get the economy responsibly reopened,” Greene said.
The subject of Medicaid expansion has been an issue that has split the General Assembly in recent years, leaving the state without an updated budget after Gov. Roy Cooper refused to sign one in 2019 when Republican lawmakers submitted the budget without a plan to expand Medicaid. While Greene did not want to stake his claim on either side of the issue just yet, he did express caution about passing a bill that would impose unfunded mandates, or regulations that municipalities and organizations would be forced to abide by without government funding.
“I don’t want to put more of a burden (on local governments) and directing them to do something without giving them the resources. That is something I would be resistant to,” Greene said.
Greene says he has been in contact with local county leaders to discuss how he would work with them in the event that he is elected to the state legislature in November. One of the key areas that local legislators support their districts is by providing access and advocacy to the state when grant funding for various purposes is made available.
“I think the representative has two roles (in accessing grants). Often times grant funding comes through the state itself, and there may be times when we can create those opportunities for the local government. More often than not, (grants) are administered by the state but it comes through the federal government. I view my role in that as being a conduit between local governments and in the state in trying to keep them informed about grant opportunities and doing what I can to help grease the axles toward getting them the funding they need,” Greene said.
On Avery-specific issues, Greene mentioned the need for broadband internet/infrastructure and affordable housing. While these issues are areas of need across the district, there have been improvements in both areas over the years specifically due to local governments’ abilities to access grant funding.
Greene said that increased internet connectivity in the district will help in the education of students within both public schools and community colleges. If Greene is elected, he would be representing three school systems and two community colleges (Mayland and McDowell Tech) in Raleigh.
“I am a Mayland alumni,” Greene said. “Mayland has been great for our area. Community college and technical training is vital, because it gives an affordable option (for people) to further their education, and not everybody that comes out of high school is looking to become a doctor or a lawyer. We need welders and plumbers and so many of these trades that are vital to our economy and small businesses that our community colleges are doing a great job providing training for.”
Early voting will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 15 and 16, from Oct. 19 to 23, from Oct. 26 to 30 and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 31 at the Newland pool complex. Polling sites will be open across Avery County from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3.