While U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick filled one of downtown Gastonia’s stately brick buildings, Jeff Doctor wondered why so many others sit empty.
The Republican congresswoman and her Democratic opponent both touted job creation as the key to economic recovery at Saturday afternoon events. Myrick held a town hall meeting in her Gastonia district office on West Main Avenue, and Doctor campaigned downtown, shaking hands and speaking to storekeepers.
“When I see those empty buildings, it makes me say, ‘We can bring so many businesses in there,’” Doctor said. “We walked around downtown Gastonia today and met a lot of small-business owners.”
Doctor said North Carolina’s ninth congressional district, comprised of parts of Gaston, Mecklenburg and Union counties, has lost 62,000 jobs since 2008.
“I’ve seen a lot of lip service, but we’ve got to go back to being a nation of producers instead of a nation of just consumers,” he said. “I just don’t see it being done here.”
Myrick also stressed the need for job growth. She blamed the United States’ corporate income tax — which sits slightly under 40 percent and is higher than business taxes in France, China and other industrialized countries — for driving companies overseas.
Adding new bureaucratic jobs in Washington isn’t the answer, she said. Lowering taxes and rolling out the welcome mat for small business and manufacturing companies is.
“Government jobs don’t grow the economy,” said Myrick. “The only thing that grows the economy is private-sector jobs.”
Doctor spent his Saturday on the stump in Gastonia, donating school supplies at Lingerfeldt Elementary, speaking at a Democratic Women workshop, canvassing in the York Chester neighborhood and giving away hot dogs and drinks at Lineberger Park.
The Democratic House hopeful said Myrick votes with congressional Republicans 97 percent of the time. He said Gaston County residents need a representative who can reach across the aisle to work with politicians from the opposing party.
“We’ve got to cross party lines,” he said. “We’ve got to get past this Republican-Democrat thing and talk to each other.”
Myrick didn’t directly campaign for re-election, but appeared to have strong support among residents who attended her town hall meeting. Her call for Congress to freeze government spending and pop the ballooning federal budget drew thunderous applause.
“The next Congress has a definite responsibility,” Myrick said. “They need to have the guts…to put the brakes on government spending. We have to make those tough choices so our America will be there for our kids and our grandkids.”
When Myrick spoke about Mexican drug cartels — among discussion of international terrorism, border surveillance and other national security issues — Gastonia resident Scotty Reid said 60 to 70 percent of the cartels’ revenue comes from marijuana.
Reid, who hosts an Internet radio show and describes himself as a citizen journalist, floated the idea of decriminalizing cannabis as a way to starve the cartels. The millionsspent on the nationwide war ondrugs could be channeled into education and drug rehabilitation programs, he suggested.
“I don’t know that that’s the answer,” Myrick said, “but I’m willing to talk with you about any suggestion you may have on this issue. It’s killing our country.”
Reach Corey Friedman at 704-669-3331.
Learn more about the campaign at www.JeffDoctorforCongress.com