Dozens of Anson County leaders turned out on Thursday morning for a meet and greet with newly sworn in 8th District Congressman Richard Hudson at the Chamber of Commerce office in Wadesboro.
In attendance were new Wadesboro Town Manager Alex Sewell, retired Town Manager John Witherspoon, Wadesboro Councilmen Bobby Usrey and David James Lee, former South Piedmont Community College president Don Altieri, current SPCC president Stan Sidor, Anson Economic Development Corporation members including chair Chuck Horne and vice chair Don Scarborough, and many others.
Hudson said he’d been a member of Congress for exactly seven days on Thursday and his visit to Anson County was part of a “Listening Tour” he’s doing this month to meet with community leaders in every county in the 8th District.
“I’ve always had such a great relationship with this community,” Hudson said. “This county is the most beautiful in the state, and there are great people here.”
He joked that there have been three main issues everywhere he’s been so far — “and that’s jobs, jobs and jobs.”
“Even when the economy was booming, there still areas of this district that were struggling,” Hudson said. Hudson said he wanted to know what’s going on within the district, and what issues the community is dealing with. “One thing about me, we may not agree but you’ll know where I stand,” he said. “I won’t say something here and then go to Washington vote differently.”
The first week in Congress has been exciting, but also sobering, Hudson said. He frequently mentioned the government’s “out-of-control spending,” and repeatedly stated that he plans to work on both sides of the aisle to affect real change in the nation’s capitol.
“We have a divided government,” he said. “So I’ve spent my time trying to build relationships, particularly with Democratic freshmen. We’ve got to work together. There are so many issues that one party can’t solve.”
He pointed to the relationship between late senators, Jesse Helms from North Carolina and Ted Kennedy from Massachusetts. The Republican and Democrat could not have been more different, but worked together often for the good of the country, Hudson explained. He’s trying to create a similar relationship with Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts. “Our votes will probably cancel each other out, but we’ll work together,” he said. “I think that’s going to get some attention.”
He’s also aware of the importance of agriculture in the 8th District. “Agriculture is our best place to grow jobs, in my opinion,” he said. Anson County farmer Dale Nelson asked Hudson about the Farm Bill and what could be done for small farmers. “That’s my concern, especially with young farmers just starting out,” Hudson responded. “We are looking at things to help as we put this Farm Bill together. We know how important agriculture is in this district.”
Don Scarborough said, “I think you know the level of frustration here. We’re not sure there’s anybody up there who can fix it. I think a bad decision is better than no decision. I just don’t want our country to end up like Greece.” Hudson agreed, pointing again to the government’s national debt and spending. “If your credit card debt is maxed out and you’re behind on your mortgage and your car breaks down, there’s not much you can do,” he said. “If our country is broke and war breaks out, what are we going to do?”
He said President Obama doesn’t believe the country has a spending problem, but in his opinion, there is one. “We’re going to reach our debt ceiling Feb. 15. We will stand firm and will not raise that debt ceiling unless we get spending cuts.”
Chuck Horne told Hudson that previous Congressman Larry Kissell had made a commitment to support the textile industry, and he hopes Hudson will do the same. Hudson said that he would, and that he feels frustrated Obama has cut the military budget, and has not required the military to use U.S. textile companies for uniforms.
Derek James pointed out that the 2012 presidential election showed that the majority of Americans want the country to continue as is. Hudson admitted that conservatives didn’t get the right message across in the campaign. “Exit polls showed people that ‘Mitt Romney doesn’t care about me,’” he said. “Obama ran a better campaign. I need to show as a conservative that I do care about people, not ideas. I need to do a better job of why we believe what we do and how it applies to you. We live in the greatest country in the world. You can do anything in this country that you want to do through hard work.”
Hudson’s office can be reached at 202-225-3715 in Washington, D.C., and 704-786-1612 in Concord.