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MIDDLESEX — Rep. Lisa Stone Barnes is ready to get to work in the General Assembly, and much like her Sunday swearing-in ceremony, she plans to do things differently.
Instead of taking her oath with her hand on the Bible, Barnes elected instead to take an affirmation of oath.
“She shall stand with her right hand lifted toward heaven, in token of her solemn appeal to the supreme God, and also in token that if she should swerve from the truth, she would draw down the vengeance of heaven upon her head,” state Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby recited from the state statute regarding the oath of office as he prepared to administer Barnes’ affirmation at the Middlesex Church of God.
“Folks, I don’t know what tradition you’re from, but that’s pretty good theology right there,” Newby said.
One of the first things Barnes wants to focus on in the legislature is expanding broadband coverage in rural areas of her district.
“Broadband is a key issue. We’ve been working on it in Nash County since I was elected to the Board of Commissioners in 2012, and it’s also a big concern in Franklin County,” Barnes said. “There are places where coverage drops and doesn’t pick up for several miles.”
Barnes said lack of broadband access cuts her constituents off from educational and health care opportunities such as telemedicine. Barnes also plans to tackle health care issues in Franklin County, where the local hospital recently reopened with drastically reduced services.
Legislative committees have yet to be assigned; however, Barnes’ interest in the Agriculture, State and Local Government, Commerce and Job Development committees reflect the needs of her district.
Barnes plans to work with her colleagues in the legislature to address the urban-rural divide just as she has worked with Nash commissioners.
“I’m going to do what I’ve been doing. Republicans and Democrats, we come together on these nonpartisan issues and do what’s best for the community.”
A Republican, Barnes represents House District 7, which links the southern Nash County towns of Bailey and Middlesex and their surrounding communities with the entirety of Franklin County.
Barnes said she is excited to begin working for her constituents.
“I really appreciate their support, and I’m looking forward to representing them and working hard for the whole district. I will try my best to listen and respond to their concerns.”