BRUNSWICK COUNTY — Representative Frank Iler has served Brunswick County’s House District 17 for nine years since being first appointed in 2009.
Iler has been elected four times and is now seeking his fifth term. He is a registered Republican.
Below are Iler’s responses to Port City Daily’s questions:
What do you bring to the table?
What I bring to the “table” in the N.C. General Assembly is experience in the majority party as well as a short time in the minority party. Since our gaining the majority, I have been able to have a major impact on state policy. A freshman, particularly in the minority party, would have almost no impact to improve the lives and freedoms of the people of N.C. or Brunswick County.
What bills do you hope or to introduce this legislative session?
There are many issues for which I hope to author or sponsor legislation. Hurricane Florence recovery is urgent; support of education, as I have always advocated for teacher pay, teaching assistants, and the Teaching Fellows program; our people’s safety in the forms of law enforcement, healthcare, and water resource security; transportation infrastructure for mobility, safety, and economic development…to name a few.
What is the weakest aspect of the General Assembly at this time?
The weakest aspect of the General Assembly is our messaging of our many accomplishments in lower taxes, high job growth policies, and expansion of our constitutional freedoms. A specific weakness is the unintended consequence of election laws that allow a person to switch parties and immediately run for office as a member of that party, particularly on the Supreme Court.
What is the strongest aspect of the General Assembly at this time?
The strongest aspect of the General Assembly is our focus on middle-class families and small businesses by cutting taxes, reducing smothering regulations, and
passing policies that increase freedom and opportunities to get ahead. Also, the fact that so much has been accomplished since 2011, after 140 years of one-party rule by the opposing party.
How are you similar to your constituents? How are you different?
What an interesting question! I am similar to my constituents in a number of ways. I live on Oak Island, one of the more populous of our 19 communities in
Brunswick County. I am a “newcomer” to Brunswick of almost 20 years, but an “old-timer” in North Carolina of 60 years. I have always been a middle-class worker in businesses, large and small, including my own small business. About half of our folks here are native to the area and about half are newcomers. I believe I have a good rapport with the people here, and strive always to stay in touch with our local citizens and leaders in the county and District 17. I am not sure how I am different, but I believe I see issues both from the local perspective and the overall perspective of the state.
What are the top three issues House District 17 faces at this time?
The top three issues of many in District 17 are: Hurricane Florence Recovery, water quality, and economic development, which includes not only job availability, but education as well.
How specifically do you plan to address these issues as an elected representative?
We have specifically already addressed the beginning of the Hurricane Florence recovery as of last Tuesday, and we will be in session Monday, the 15 th, to invest possibly another billion dollars to speed the recovery efforts. It will also be addressed in the 2019 session, when we will have a better assessment of all the damages and federal assistance available. We have addressed the water issue by bringing the university system to bear on the problem of emerging contaminants in our water, in addition to buying the latest equipment for our environmental scientists to test for known and unknown compounds. This will continue next session. In economic development, our tax and regulatory policies are helping to create jobs. This will continue next session. However, as a member of the Bd. Of Trustees of Brunswick Community College, I am keenly aware of how important the community colleges and high schools can be to our students in our trained workforce. I will continue to be an advocate for them.
What do you consider to be the greatest accomplishments of your current term?
As suggested above, our tax and regulatory policies have moved North Carolina from the highest tax state in the southeast to the lowest, and the Forbes number one place to do business. Just as important, I have sponsored bills to expand our freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution, and lead to the quality of life for our people to enjoy our area without harming our environment.
Do you believe the state’s film industry shift from an incentive to a grant program for the film industry has been successful?
As you may know, I fought to keep the film incentive system, which was supporting a booming industry in our area with 4,000 well-paying jobs. I was as
disappointed as anyone when the anti-incentive movement won. However, I struggled, alongside Rep. Ted Davis and others, to bring back a grant system. No, it is not as successful, but better than the nothing we had.
Does the state’s environmental team have the resources it needs to address the issues we’re facing?
When one refers to the environmental team, I suppose it means the Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ), formerly known as DENR. They have a budget of $228 million per year. There was a controversy during the GenX publicity of our giving $3 million to the university system instead of DEQ to bring to bear their expertise on the problem. So, yes, they currently have what they need. They had to be reminded to watch Chemours more closely, but if $228 million wasn’t enough to do the job, then we didn’t think $3 million would make a difference to them. I believe this out-of-the-box thinking and attention to the problem we faced helped get it under control now and in the future. If more resources are needed, it will be addressed in the budget next year.
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