District 4 County Commissioner Scott Dacey has decided to throw his hat into a much bigger ring, challenging incumbent Walter B. Jones for a seat in the 116th Congress in 2018.
Dacey, a Trent Woods resident, said he is running because the Third Congressional District needs a figure in Washington who will help move President Trump’s agenda forward.
Jones, 74, who has had the post for 22 years not doing that, Dacey said.
“I believe I will be more effective,” he said. “My work as a county commissioner here and in the community has exposed me to a great number of important issues. I believe we can do a good job moving forward.”
Dacey, 54, a Republican, was first voted to the Board of Commissioners in 2010, then won an uncontested second term. He served as chairman in 2012-13 and, he said, he “sits on numerous boards and commissions representing the concerns of Craven County throughout North Carolina.”
He particularly drew attention to his work serving on the board of Allies for Cherry Point Tomorrow, a grass-roots advocacy group for Cherry Point Marine Air Station and Camp Lejeune Marine Base. His work in this direction, he said, has enlightened him to many of the military’s needs. “You quickly become familiar with just how important the base is to Craven County,” he said.
On local issues, Dacey emphasized the need to protect the state’s natural resources, including the fishing industry. He said he has not made up his mind on the issue of offshore drilling in the state but “I’m looking forward to meeting people and getting their opinions. I want to spend a lot of time talking to the people of North Carolina on this issue.”
He opposes term limits, stating that “there are term limits every two years when you go to the voting booth. If I’m doing a bad job I want you to vote me out.”
He says continuing the battle against opioid addiction is important. “I have engaged, personally, in the stepping-up initiative which is an effort to make sure those who are suffering addiction and mental illness are getting the proper treatment that they need.
“Over 80 percent of the individuals who are in our jails are there because of a drug-relating occurrence, and many are suffering mental illness as well.”
He believes Congress has worked effectively on the issue, but also believes more funding needs to be secured to fight the problem.
As to supporting President Donald Trump’s agenda, he said, “Let me make a distinction here: there are going to be times when I have got concerns about President Trump. But his agenda, what he’s trying to accomplish? I’m in line with it. His desire to move this country forward and expand the economy is absolutely critical to the future of America.”
Dacey noted the historical trend that says the President’s party tends to lose seats at the midterm elections. While he believes Republicans can maintain their superiority in seats in 2018, he does believe that margin will probably be slimmer. Jones’ presence, as a man not entirely behind the President’s agenda, he said, will further weaken Congress’ ability to work.
He argued that Jones has not been a strong supporter of Trump’s agenda. “Jones has voted against repealing Obamacare,” he said. In reference to Jones’ reputation as being a strong supporter of the military in a district heavily influenced by its two key military bases, he charged that Jones has not been as supportive as some might suppose. “Jones voted against the defense appropriations bill adopted by congress earlier this year,” he said.
The Third District covers 17 counties stretching from Currituck at the Virginia border to Onslow County. The biggest city within the district is Greenville in Pitt County.
He said one key to defeating Jones will be to “educated the public to what Mr. Jones’ voting record has been.”
He added that, if he wins the primary, he expects the November race to be a battle. “The Democrats think they have an opportunity to take back the House,” he said.
In a news release Dacey said, “I have been working to promote conservative policy initiatives throughout my tenure as a local elected official. Now is a time to push for bold reforms in Washington, D.C., and President Trump needs a partner in this effort. I have the energy, and I am ready to fight to help promote the needs of our military and those who call eastern North Carolina their home.”
Jones’ office did not return calls for comment.
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Contact Bill Hand at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him @BillHandNBSJ.