WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – In a crowded field running for Governor in North Carolina, Democrat Bruce Blackmon stands out from the other candidates. At the age of 90, the retired physician from Lillington is the oldest of the eleven men and two women in the race. While some may see it as a drawback, Blackmon sees it as an advantage.
"It means that I have that much more experience, and I know more about life in general," Blackmon said during an interview in the WECT studios. "I am committed to spending four years of my life getting my program through. If I have to spend eight years, I'll do that too."
The program Blackmon speaks about is the one plank on his campaign platform. He is a proponent of cutting taxes by investing in the future. Blackmon proposes taking 5% of the proceeds from North Carolina's Education Lottery and investing into a growth endowment. His plan says one-half of the interest would be spent on education, and the other half will be re-invested back into the fund. At a 7% interest rate, Blackmon says the fund will double about every 20 years.
"All of us have a system of our own, a 401K or Roth IRA to protect ourselves so we know when we are ready to retire," Blackmon said. "We've built up something to know we don't have to rely on social security alone. This is an effort for the state to start doing that for itself, so that some day we can begin to cut taxes."
Blackmon says his investment plan would have wide-ranging impact on several other issues facing leaders in Raleigh, including unemployment and the economy. When asked about what it will take to get companies like Caterpillar and Continental Tire to locate in North Carolina, rather than choosing other states for plant projects, Blackmon pointed back to his plan. "If we get our growth endowment established, and we are cutting taxes, Caterpillar and other companies will look and say ‘the tax rate will be good in North Carolina, I want to be there'."
A recent poll by Public Policy Polling paints Blackmon as a relative unknown to most voters in North Carolina. When asked their opinion of Blackmon, 87% said they are "not sure". "They don't have an opinion of me because they don't know me," Blackmon said. "The only thing they need to know about is what we‘ve talked about here. If they are interested in cutting taxes then they need to vote for me. "
The same poll pitted each of the Democratic challengers against likely Republican nominee Pat McCrory, the former mayor of Charlotte. Former Congressman Bob Etheridge polled highest against McCrory, getting 36% of the responses to McCrory's 46%, with 18% undecided. The same poll puts McCrory ahead 48-33 against Blackmon, with the same 18% undecided.
Blackmon proposes allowing teachers and principals to use education funding in a similar fashion to his endowment fund proposal for taxes. He believes in allowing educators to keep unspent funds at the end of the year, and putting the money into an endowment fund, rather than returning it to the funding source. "We've got to look out for education," he said. "It's our way of the future to educate our youngsters. They need the very best education we can give them. But, we don't need to drag it down for the lack of money. "
Blackmon has written a short book outlining his endowment fund proposal for local, state and federal governments. It is called More Cash Less Taxes – World Peace. He says it is available through www.amazon.com.
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