Age: Not provided
Place of residence: Nashville, N.C.
Family: Married to Linda Nielsen. Two children: Holly Nielsen and Raquel Nielsen-Williams
Political experience: Ran for state Senate in 2004
U.S. Air Force veteran
Director of Safety, U.S. Air National Guard
Small business owner
Vice president and board member, Air Force Heritage Foundation
Chief Operating Officer for NEAC Inc., a free tax clinic for low- and middle-income people
Does volunteer tax preparation for IRS VITA and TCE programs
Conducts free financial health seminars
Religious affiliation: Not provided
Favorite movies: Not provided
Favorite book: "Rescuing Sprite"
What do you think are the top 3 issues facing North Carolina that you would address?
The No. 1 issue is the economy. We must find ways to put money back into the hands of hard working North Carolinians. State spending has increased 42 percent since 2001. We must reduce the size of state government and reduce the state debt. Making sure money taken from the citizens is used as it was intended is where we must start. We must stop robbing the trust funds for pet projects of the politicians. Taking money from the Highway Trust Fund and then asking the citizens to give more to support transportation is ridiculous. We must fence the Highway Trust Fund to support transportation needs and fence the lottery money to support education. We must exempt groceries from the 2 percent sales tax, cut the gas tax – currently the highest in the Southeast – and eliminate property taxes on low-income seniors. Small businesses are the lifeblood of our state’s economy, and we must lower the tax rate on small business to 5 percent. Businesses get deductions for health care, so we must allow citizens to get that same deduction on their state income taxes.
The No. 2 issue is immigration. This is a growing problem that we must get our arms around and do it now. We spent over $400 million last year on illegal immigrants using our schools, roads, jails and medical facilities. This cannot continue. More than 95 percent of Medicaid users in this state are illegal aliens, a trend that we must stop if our citizens are to get quality and affordable care. Although a national issue, we in the state must act now as the problem gets more difficult to fix as time goes on. We must end the black market for illegal labor, require employers to verify the status of workers, withhold taxes and ensure that no citizen or legal worker loses his or her job because of illegal workers. Employers must be fined and assessed other penalties for hiring illegal workers. We will remove the magnet as we are fast becoming the sanctuary state in our country.
The No. 3 issue is education. Our state’s education system has failed a generation of our youth; probably some will never recover. In the past 8 years, public schools have made little or no improvements while we continue to put more and more money into this failed system. We can’t solve the problem with the current politicians that got us in this mess. Raleigh needs an outsider to solve many of our state’s problems. Our current system is bloated with high-paid administrators while we don’t allow teachers to teach. We will develop a combination of public, charter and private schools and allow parents a choice in where and how their children are educated. Money will follow the student, allowing low-income families the same choice as the more affluent. Dropout rates are lower and test scores are higher in most charter and private schools. The curricula can be tailored to meet the needs of the students, and it can be done at less cost. Not all students need to be on a track to go to college. Some want more technical training or training in the arts, sciences, etc. Competition will make all schools better. This combination of public, private and charter schools will reduce the cost of education, as it costs about one-fourth less to send a child to a private than it does a public school. It seems to me if it can be done better and cheaper, we should do it.
In 150 words or less, explain why are you the most qualified candidate?
As a USAF officer, I bring unique leadership and management skills that are unmatched by any other candidate. We place too much emphasis on “political experience.” Being a Raleigh outsider has a distinct advantage to lead the state. For example, Bev Perdue is a career politician and, in the last eight years, almost all indicators – roads, education, teen pregnancy and illegal immigration – have gotten worse under her watch. Politician is the only profession that, with experience, you get worse. Today’s problems cannot be solved by yesterday’s thinking. I understand that any good plan requires implementation. Ideas are useless unless they can be put into action. I will represent all of North Carolina, not just the Raleigh-insider, good-old-boy network, and do what is right for the citizens of N.C. without regard to any political party or special-interest group. The state needs a highly skilled leader.