I was born in Atlanta Georgia, the sixth child of a Southern Baptist Father and a Roman Catholic Mother. Being raised as an Episcopalian, my parents taught me to respect everyone regardless of their religion, color, or sexual identity. My mother taught me that honesty is always the best policy and my father taught me patience, diligence, and temperance. He worked for the airline industry and after his first four children were born, he went to night school after work to get his law degree so that he could improve his career. We were very fortunate to be able to travel extensively throughout the United States and Abroad. While in Georgia, I attended a nondenominational Christian School from fourth through seventh grade and was taught the scriptures. At the end of the 70’s my father’s work required us to move to the Dallas, Fort Worth area where I attended a Public Junior High. Two years later we moved to Nashville Tennessee where I attended a college preparatory high school. Throughout my entire primary and secondary school career I played basketball and football.
In 1984 my parents and I moved to WNC, where my father paid me minimum wage, $3.35, to help him build a home in Transylvania County. After finishing construction of the house, I took a job at High Hampton Inn in Cashiers on their grounds maintenance crew, also at minimum wage. I eventually enrolled at WCU and began studying business administration, psychology, radio and television and photography. In December of 1986, my father passed away from cancer. This was very hard on me, as my father was the greatest man I have ever known. I continued to pursue my college education over the next three years but found it very difficult to focus. During this time I began dating my future wife, Michelle, who grew up in Jackson County. While attending WCU I worked in various restaurants and construction jobs in Jackson and Macon Counties, getting to know the people and the work. In 1990 I moved to Chapel Hill to pursue my music career as a song writer, guitar player and a singer; and put together a 5 piece band. I lead my band as we traveled up and down the East Coast performing original music in various venues throughout 15 states. Shortly after Michelle graduated from UNC-CH with a degree in Environmental Science and Engineering we moved back to Western North Carolina and got married at the Church of Good Shepherd in Cashiers. We moved to Asheville, bought our first house, and our son Isaac was born. At that time Michelle worked for Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation District while I stayed home caring for Isaac and studying for my real estate exam.
After receiving my real estate salesman license, Michelle and I purchased several distressed properties in the Asheville area and took part in the Urban Revitalization of affordable housing in Buncombe County. While, actively restoring and renovating these older houses I gained the appreciation for old growth lumber, American Architecture, and True Craftsmanship. This inspired us to start a small recycling business with a mission to preserve a piece of the past, by reclaiming and re-using old growth lumber from structures that would otherwise by demolished or left to deteriorate. Over the last 20 years we have saved millions of board feet of lumber and thousands of tons of other materials from going into the landfills of Western North Carolina, while providing jobs for over 40 people. Over the last 34 years I have lived in Transylvania, Jackson, Macon, Haywood, Buncombe, and McDowell Counties and I have worked in almost all of the counties in the 11th district meeting many people and making lots of friends. I have learned what a struggle it is for hard working people to get by while the top 1% continue to get richer and richer and the rest of us keep paying for it.
Michelle and I have been members of Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Asheville for 17 years and we have raised our three children there and in the North Carolina public school system. Our two oldest children have both been accepted into the North Carolina School of Science and Math in Durham, and now our oldest son, Isaac, is an honor student in the Chemical Engineering dept. at NC State after graduating from the NC School of Science and Math with a grade point average above 4.0.
Since I started this campaign to run for office, I have made it no secret that I am a Christian. I have been what some Evangelicals might call “born again” since I was nine years old. As I have traveled around the 11th district speaking to folks about who I am and where I come from, there have been a few people that have raised concerns about my expression of my faith, questioning how it will affect the way that I might govern. I want you to know that the separation of church and state is very important to me. One of the most important things that Jesus has taught me is to “love our neighbors as ourselves”. To me this does not mean love your Christian neighbors as yourself; it means love everyone as yourself. Neither does this mean to do unto others as they do unto you. This seems to be the mantra of our current administration, not mine. The “Golden Rule” says “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. There is a big difference. The virtues that I have learned through my faith include compassion, empathy, forgiveness, grace, honesty, respect, temperance, and a true love and concern for this awesome planet that we have been given to take care of. As a voter, I want you to know that I will never support or vote for legislation that denies or takes away the equal civil rights of any American, regardless of their religion (or lack thereof), gender, ethnicity, income, or sexual identity. I refrain from using the word “race” as a designation because I believe we are all members of the same race, the Human Race. Also, I will never support or vote for any legislation that is meant to control a woman’s reproductive rights. This is a decision between each individual woman and her Creator.
After living in four different states, as well as traveling abroad and across the US, I have come to realize that there is no place that I would rather live and raise my family than this great place, Western North Carolina. When I have traveled down east to visit Raleigh, Chapel Hill or the Carolina Coast, there is nothing more comforting to me than seeing the mountains begin to rise on the horizon ahead of me as I am coming home. I absolutely love Western North Carolina and the people who live here. This is why I am compelled to stand up for The 11th District and her people by running for the US House of Representatives and bringing a voice back to the people.