N.C. State Rep. Jason Saine is seeking a fifth term. This year, he’s not running unopposed. Greg McBryde, a Lincolnton resident and a Democrat is challenging him.
“I don’t take the support I’ve received over the years for granted and acknowledge that post numbers indicate I’ve had support from Republicans, Democrats, Unaffiliated and Libertarian voters,” Saine, who is a Republican, said. “Local voters tend to look at your whole body of work while you serve in office. Many who have voted for my previous opponents have come back later and told me that they voted for me in following elections based on a policy or stand that I have taken. I look at every two years as an evaluation by constituents.”
Saine was first appointed to the legislature in 2011 when Rep. Jonathan Rhyne resigned after moving outside of the district. Since that time, he has quickly risen in the ranks of leadership in N.C. House. In his first term, he served as the first ever chairman of the committee on information technology appropriations.
As a sophomore legislator, Saine was named by Speaker Tim Moore as the senior finance chair and served in that role from 2015 to 2018. The finance committee deals with tax and fiscal policy for the state.
Saine was named senior chair of appropriations in 2019 and is one of the lead budget writers in the state. He currently serves in that position.
“It really does give you a better perspective on exactly how our state budget works and operates,” he said. “It has also helped me with working with members of the Senate and members of the other party. As far as anyone at the legislative building can remember, I’m the only member of the house to have served as senior chair of both finance and appropriations during their term in office.”
Crafting successful budgets and legislation require not just getting a majority of votes to pass, but also building consensus and working with others who often have different political viewpoints.
“One of the things that I have tried to do while at the legislature is make sure that I include members of the other party as lead sponsors on my bills,” he said. “When you have support from both sides, your bills move quicker and often have an easier time making their way through the legislative process.”
Politics can get in the way, Saine added. Gubernatorial vetoes prevented the 2019 budget, which had passed with bipartisan support, from being enacted. Instead, smaller “mini-budgets” were passed that dealt with specific areas of state government instead of one omnibus spending bill.
“What the Raleigh media fail to report is that even though the initial budget act failed because of partisan bickering, we went back and worked on the things we could agree on in a bipartisan fashion and got those funding priorities accomplished,” Saine said. “We listened to what the other side said they liked in our budget bill and broke them down into smaller mini-budget bills to accomplish a lot of what we wanted to accomplish.”
Saine also pointed to several legislative accomplishments such as work on expanding broadband in our state and enacting legislation that paves the way for higher speed satellite internet as some of the many accomplishments over the last two years. Those bills, now law, and three different emergency COVID-19 spending bills to deal with the pandemic are good examples he says.
Saine also chaired the house committee, economic support working group on COVID-19, which was a bipartisan effort that generated much of the legislation dealing with the pandemic.
“House Bill 1105, the Coronavirus Relief Act 3.0, was a huge bipartisan success and demonstrates that we can work together,” he said. “I am especially proud that the legislation that I co-authored with colleagues passed 104-10 out of the house and was signed by the Governor. I think it is a huge testament to what can be done when we work together.”
The legislation including emergency funding for health care, meals for children at home because of the pandemic, K-12 education, community colleges, universities and even arts and other community group funding.
Saine believes that his committed work and accomplishments on behalf of Lincoln County at the General Assembly should be reasons that voters send him back to Raleigh for another term.
“I’ve also worked hard to work with the Lincoln County Schools board, city council, law enforcement and the county commission,” he said. “I’m proud of our county and our people. We are a thriving part of this state and I am fortunate to represent such a great area and a great people. I am honored to continue to serve and represent Lincoln County if reelected.”
Saine currently lives in the Ironton Township in Lincoln County with his wife and son who currently attends Lincoln Charter School.
“I have a vote history of supporting public schools, by voting for increased funding, and by voting for teacher pay raises each year I’ve been in office,” he said.
McBryde, a Democrat, is running to represent District 97, Lincoln County, for several reasons.
“The first is simply a profound sense of duty,” he said. “Our system of governance was founded with the understanding that it would be the common man, the ordinary citizen, determining our destiny as a country. I feel that I’m just doing my part, to serve where and when I am able.”
In addition, McBryde said that he’s been very disappointed with local representation for quite some time.
“Our representatives have too often taken their position and their constituents for granted,” he said. “It seems that their first priority has often been more about personal achievement and advancement than with the voters of Lincoln County. We need a representative that is an advocate for us all, for everyday working families and locally owned businesses. Lincoln County deserves better.”
If elected, a few of the things McBryde like to concentrate on locally are the roads and infrastructure.
“We’re all aware of these deficits, especially in the east,” he said. “I want to give our public schools the tools and support they deserve and expand our broadband footprint, so our students have the tools they need to succeed, particularly in the more rural areas of the county.
I also think that climate change is a looming issue that must be faced honestly and directly. The cost of ignoring the obviously increasing rate and intensity of weather disasters could be devastating to our agriculture and tourism industries, while the potential benefits are enormous. We can turn these problems into advantages by investing in a renewable energy industry that brings good jobs back to our county.”
McBryde believes that one of the most important things that need to be addressed is the ever-widening divide and unrest growing in communities.
“I think the first step in healing this divide is to restore faith in our system of elections, in our individual vote,” he said. “Voting must reflect the will of the people and because of gerrymandering, it no longer does. Gerrymandering has done more to corrupt our state politics than almost anything else. It flies in the face of the spirit on which our country was founded, and it needs to stop. I understand that both sides are guilty of using and abusing the idea, but someone has to stand up and give the vote back to the citizens. We should return to choosing our representatives instead of them choosing their voters. Every voter has a Constitutional right to a free and clear voice in our elections. It’s time to return that dignity to the voter.”
McBryde lives with his wife in Lincolnton. They have three daughters, one graduated from Gaston Day School and the other two from Lincoln Charter.
“At the time my daughters went to private/charter schools because Lincoln County Public Schools did not meet their needs,” he said. “Lincoln County parents deserve a uniform school system that more completely fulfills their educational needs.”
A retired truck driver and previously a small business owner, McBryde is an elder in the Presbyterian Church. He currently serves on the Lincolnton Planning Board and is a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club. He’s also been a long-time LincMeals volunteer and former chairman of the Lincoln County Historical Properties Committee.