State Sen. Shirley Randleman took advantage of a brief lull in legislative action to tell Mount Airy Rotary Club members a little more about herself Tuesday at Cross Creek Country Club.
The senator representing District 30 — which includes Surry County — told the Rotarians the groundwork for her eventual successful bid for the House began as she served as clerk of courts for Wilkes county for 34 years.
“The reasons they (citizens) came to the clerk’s office helped me to come to an understanding of community’s needs and economic conditions of the county,” said Randleman. “Work through the clerk’s office gave me knowledge about Department of Social Services issues such as child support and I learned about economics through the number of foreclosures and civil lawsuits for bad debts.”
She said she could see how businesses struggle to survive on a daily basis through legal proceedings and learned first hand issues impacting quality of life, education, and workforce quality.
“Criminal court gives you insight into criminal activities which is another way to gain insight on local economics,” Randleman said. “Through these avenues I developed relationships which are invaluable when you represent an area.” She said at one time the “epidemic” rate of accidental drug overdoses in Wilkes County had an impact on businesses looking to locate in the area. Randleman said this led to her support of Project Lazarus, a community-based overdose prevention effort.
Randleman said she also supported the legislature’s back to school project where lawmakers visit schools and talk with teachers and students. She also said she is proud of being a member of and serving in a small, Southern Baptist church which was established in 1779.
“This experience and first-hand knowledge has allowed me to be an effective legislator,” said Randleman, who told the group she was in the minority party when she began in 2008. “I identified people on the other side of the aisle who shared the same desire I did. I have continued to do this even though we (Republicans) are now in the majority. My goal in the General Assembly is to work with both sides and promote teamwork.”
Randleman said she was able to use her experience in the House to help her when she was elected to the Senate to fill the seat of the late Senator Don East.
“If you serve in a legislative capacity, you must have a heart,” said Randleman. “I was blessed to have 34 years in the court system and my purpose in the legislature is not to make a second career but to make North Carolina a good place to live and raise a family.”
Randleman ended her talk with a brief question and answer session with Rotary members and their guests. She told one participant she was proudest of legislation she authored to get proper treatment to developmentally challenged misdemeanor offenders in the legal system which were stuck in a “revolving door” where sporadic treatment as they circulated through evaluations, hospital and to court “eroded their capacity” to stand trial.
She said she was proud of her membership on the State Program Evaluation committee, which Randleman said serves as a watchdog group. Randleman also said she looks forward to supporting agricultural committee work to promote the wine industry in the state and joked that the area would become the “Yapa” valley.
Randleman said all the information she had recently read indicated to her the North Carolina Association of Educators would probably legally challenge efforts to get rid of tenure for teachers.
“I respect teachers and the public school system and I don’t know what the outcome (of a lawsuit) will be. We are at a point where we are spending as much on health and human services as we are on education,” said Randleman. “There’s no end in sight.” She also told the group the legislature would be evaluating Medicare reform measures next year.
Another question put to Randleman was her view on privatization of state historical sites. She told said that two years ago a group she served on suggested low traffic historic sites should plan hours of operation around their peak times. She said the efforts to privatize the prison system did not work well.
“I am hesitant to support privatization but it seems to be the trend,” said Randleman. “Anything I do I try to connect a face with the legislation. The bottom line is people.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 336-719-1952.