Saturday, October 1, 2022

2022 Election: Frank Iler up for reelection for NC House District 17

Frank Iler seeks reelection in 2022. (Courtesy photo)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. ⁠— A Republican representing District 17 in Brunswick County since 2009, Frank Iler is hoping to keep his seat in the N.C. House of Representatives. Iler will face off against former Marine and Democrat Eric Terashima.

Port City Daily has sent a questionnaire to every candidate appearing on ballots in the tri-county region, even those unopposed, ahead of the Nov. 8, 2022 election.

PCD asked candidates to address issues such as PFAS, women’s rights, affordable healthcare and more.

Iler’s stances on issues are discussed below. All answers are included in full and the candidate’s opinions and statements are not a reflection of Port City Daily. Responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity.

The paywall is dropped on candidate questionnaires to help voters make informed decisions ahead of Election Day.

To prepare, here are a few dates for readers to keep in mind:

  • Absentee ballots will be available Sept. 9 and have a Nov. 1 deadline.
  • Registration to vote will open until Oct. 14; afterward, according to the state board of elections, same-day registration only will be available during one-stop early voting. 
  • Early voting begins Oct. 20 and remains open through Nov. 5 (3:30 p.m.).
  • Election Day polls open Nov. 8, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Locations to vote early in Brunswick County include the government center (25 Referendum Dr., Bolivia), Leland Cultural Arts Center (1212 Magnolia Village Way), Brunswick Center at Southport (1513 N. Howe St., #1), Brunswick Center at Shallotte (3620 Express Dr.), and Southwest Brunswick Branch Library (9400 Ocean Hwy W.).

Once early voting closes, voters will need to go to the location listed on their voter registration card.

To see a sample ballot for the upcoming election, fill in voter registration info here.

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Port City Daily (PCD): Name three projects you currently are advocating for and why.
Frank Iler (FI): I have advocated for my “Three Ts of Education” since visiting every traditional public school in Brunswick County. They are Teacher Pay, Teaching Assistants, and Teaching Fellows, the scholarship program.

Every budget since 2013-14 has increased teacher pay. After the opposition party and governor froze teacher pay in 2009, we unfroze it in 2013-14.

Teaching Assistants and a new scholarship program have been added back to the state budget.

I have long advocated for the transportation fund in the state budget to be supported by funds from the general fund. 

Finally, this year, the $4 billion transportation fund will be supplemented by up to almost $200 million from the general fund and increase to $600 over the next few years. 

We have 10 years of projects in the Strategic Transportation Investment plan, and three years worth of funds to pay for them. 

This help from the general fund, with no tax increase, should hasten the planning and start of large projects important to our county, such as the Carolina Bays Parkway and the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge replacement. I am advocating for both of these to move up in the STIP prioritization.

I have long advocated for more efficient use of taxpayers’ money. We have lowered state tax rates on working families and small businesses, will continue to do so, and this has produced more economic activity and more dollars to fund necessary services.

We are now the top state to do business in many published media outlets, and one of the top in which to live.  I will continue to advocate for low state taxes and smart spending, unlike the federal government.

PCD: Do you support the expansion of Medicaid? What else needs to be done to help all North Carolinians have access to affordable healthcare.
FI: Medicaid payments in our budget have expanded from $1.9 billion when I took office to over $4 billion today. Our Medicaid transformation bills have already expanded Medicaid, so the current term “Medicaid Expansion” is a convenient political buzzword.

I will continue to advocate policies to help our rural hospitals survive.

PCD: What can you bring to the table to address the affordable housing crisis currently facing residents?
FI: I have been in contact with developers that want to expand affordable housing in our county. Our tax policies are bringing them across the state line to NC, and our county leadership is working with them to facilitate their projects.

Those who advocate overregulation and high taxes are not helpful.  

PCD: How do you propose the government assist with combating inflation and its ramifications — rising rents, groceries, utilities, prescription drugs, gas — on working families?
FI: Inflation is not a function of state government. We balance our budget by law, and we don’t print money, unlike the federal government.

We have flattened the gas tax at the pump so it doesn’t jump up each time the price of a barrel of oil goes up. We have capped the sales tax at 7%, unlike our neighbor to the south.

I propose we do away with the 2% food tax on groceries, which was supposed to be temporary when first levied in the 1960s.

PCD: There has been a lot of talk about reforming ABC laws in the state, often called “draconian” by business owners tied to them. Would you support revising some of the laws and do you support privatization — why or why not?
FI: Some of the laws are being revised.  In addition, privatizing would bring the prices down, but every town that derives income from their ABC store tends to revolt as the idea comes up.

PCD: Where do you stand on women’s reproductive health rights and would you support legislation to further restrict abortions in North Carolina?
FI: Every woman or man should have the freedom to decide what happens to their bodies, unlike the vaccine mandates recently. 

The baby should have a right to life also. 

This is too important a life and death subject to be debated in a couple weeks, but will be thoroughly discussed and debated with public input in the long session next year.

PCD: The state has been recognized as one of the best in business. How far should North Carolina go to attract companies and promote economic development?
FI: Our tax policies and regulatory reform are bringing economic development. We just have to be ready with the infrastructure and training, such as at our community colleges. 

PCD: Coming out of 2021, wherein NC garnered over $400 million from film projects, should North Carolina take steps to strengthen the industry, such as improving grants?
FI: As many know, I strongly objected to the ending of the incentive program, as did our bipartisan delegation. Bringing back grants and the 4,000 jobs that went to Georgia is a great positive plan. 

PCD: Do you support the state’s progression toward offshore wind development? Clean energy tax breaks? Explain.
FI: Wind and solar may or may not be economically feasible in the short run, and the free market should determine the future.

PCD: How does the state need to improve its flood resilience plan to prevent disaster scenarios, like Hurricane Florence’s aftermath?
FI: We have allocated millions to protect flood-prone regions, and the departments responsible for that should be able to increase our resiliency.

PCD: What needs to be done to address PFAs in North Carolinians’ drinking water?
FI: I was a primary sponsor on Rep. Davis’s bill to hold polluters accountable for their actions. DEQ has already stepped up its enforcement, and more can be done. 

PCD: What do you consider the top issues in our K-12 schools right now and how would you work to address it?
FI: I just described the Three Ts in a previous answer, but in addition, the state — for the first time in this 2022-23 budget — has contributed to the construction of school buildings, which has always been a county responsibility. Parents and school boards should be working together to benefit the students.

PCD: Are there any actions you support to make North Carolina a more equitable state and provide opportunities to historically marginalized populations?
FI: Equality is a choice of the individual heart and mind; however, we have reduced tuition at historically minority universities to $500 per semester and made community college virtually free. 

I am a community college advocate, as a trustee of Brunswick Community College. 

As a member of the House Education K-12 Committee, I advocate for bills that treat everyone equally and fight against programs that teach that we are not equal.

PCD: Where do you stand on the decriminalization of marijuana? Explain.
FI: We need to follow the science, and we have many conflicting stories being thrown around. Again, it needs thorough debate.

PCD: What would your main priorities be to address infrastructure needs in North Carolina?
FI: I covered the transportation budget issue in a previous answer.  However, roads, bridges, and school buildings need our constant attention in dollars and accountability. 

PCD: What resources do we need in place to continue to fight Covid-19? How should the state prepare for a future pandemic?
FI: Covid-19 should be treated as a flu. The state needs laws that protect the citizens from unreasonable mandates and unscientific overreach by dictatorial leaders.

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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