Holding faces congressional challengers Coleman, Matemu

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U.S. Rep. George Holding, a Republican incumbent in North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District, faces challenges from Democrat Linda Coleman and Libertarian Jeff Matemu in the Nov. 6 election.

Holding, a former U.S. attorney, has served as representative in North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District and has represented the 2nd Congressional District since Jan. 3, 2017. Coleman, a former Wake County commissioner, served three terms in the N.C. General Assembly before being appointed as director of the Office of State Personnel. Matemu, a native of Kenya who now lives in Holly Springs, is a Raleigh lawyer specializing in federal law who has not previously held elected office.

Wilson County’s western half joins portions of Johnston, Wake, Nash and all of Franklin and Harnett counties to make up the district that forms a rough half circle of territory around the northern, eastern and southern portions of Raleigh.

The Wilson Times surveyed the candidates on issues relevant in the race and the candidates were asked to present their responses in 100 words or fewer.

Why do you believe you’re the best candidate to provide Wilson County with effective representation in Washington?

COLEMAN: Growing up in eastern North Carolina, I understand the values of the people of NC-02 and Wilson County. I will work with Wilson County elected officials and others to achieve bipartisan solutions and fight for better health care, better jobs and better education.

HOLDING: It comes down to issues. I voted to cut taxes to turn the economy around. And it worked. Linda Coleman wants to repeal the tax cuts. I oppose sanctuary cities because they protect criminals. Linda Coleman supports sanctuary cities. I am for workfare — for able-bodied people working for their welfare benefits. Linda Coleman criticized me for voting for legislation that included workfare.

MATEMU: I am the best candidate to represent Wilson County interests in Washington. Both Republicans and Democrats have failed us. They have resorted to extreme right-wing and left-wing politics that have left most regular folks unrepresented. The people need a choice to address the issues that really matter here and not just in Washington D.C. Congress now is made up of representatives who represent two extremes always fighting each other. How about someone who will fight for the people for a change?

Should Congress commit to passing a balanced budget? How do you view deficit spending and the growing national debt?

COLEMAN: Working families all across the country are required to balance their budgets, and so should Congress. It is irresponsible to pass on the deficit to our children and grandchildren. We need accountability and a budget that does not give handouts to the wealthy at the cost of seniors, students, our veterans or the middle class.

HOLDING: I voted for a balanced budget amendment. To balance the budget we need to cut spending, but most Washington politicians don’t want to do that. I voted against the omnibus budget because it spent too much. When she was in the state legislature, my opponent, Linda Coleman, repeatedly voted for budgets that increased spending.

MATEMU: Yes. The federal government should balance its budget just like the hardworking families in North Carolina. The debt explosion, continued deficit spending and unfunded tax cuts without responsible spending cuts are a threat to our economic growth, the stability of government programs and a threat to the national security. As a Libertarian, I would look for tax cuts by way of a Balanced Budget Amendment. That’s the right and responsible thing to do. As a responsible leader, I won’t tolerate any more empty promises. I have addressed this as a key part of my platform on my website: www.jeffmatemu.com.

What future do you envision for the Affordable Care Act? How would you reform the health care system?

COLEMAN: North Carolina’s rural communities are suffering from a lack of access to quality medical facilities. Nobody should be forced to drive several hours away from their homes just to see a doctor. We must ensure protections for people with pre-existing health conditions and lower the cost of health care premiums and prescription drugs. I will work with anyone to get this done.

HOLDING: The goal in health care reform should be to lower costs. Obamacare didn’t do that. Under Obamacare, in North Carolina, insurance premiums increased an average of 19.3 percent in 2018, after increasing 40 percent in 2017. We need to make health care affordable. One encouraging fact: Blue Cross just announced it’s cutting health insurance premiums for the first time in years.

MATEMU: I am against massive government programs and mandates for solving any problem. That’s the key problem with the ACA. Health care should be only about: Access to all, lower cost, maintaining high quality of care, less bureaucracy, patient-based decision-making, elimination of non-essential players, a free market approach and protecting the public from crony capitalism benefiting only big pharmaceutical companies. With these things in mind, we need to start afresh.

Should the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act tax reductions be repealed, revised or made permanent? What are your priorities for the tax code?

COLEMAN: The reductions in the Tax Cuts and Job Act unfairly benefit the wealthy and large corporations. We should focus on reforms to the tax code that do not add additional burdens to the middle class. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act add significantly to the federal budget deficit. We must work to responsibly balance our budget and cannot afford to provide cuts to wealthy corporations and leave future generations with the bill.

HOLDING: This is one of the differences between Linda Coleman and me. I voted for the tax cuts. Linda Coleman wants to repeal them. Thanks to the tax cuts, our economy has turned around and started growing. If Linda Coleman and the Democrats win and repeal the tax cuts, and raise taxes, the economic recovery will grind to a halt.

MATEMU: All tax cuts should be made permanent. There is no explanation why individual taxes should be temporary while corporate taxes are made permanent. Priorities should be individual tax cuts.

If elected, how would you as a member of Congress view your role regarding President Trump’s legislative agenda?

COLEMAN: As a member of Congress, I am committed to reviewing each piece of legislation independently. I look forward to consulting experts, talking with my constituents and evaluating the implications legislation has on the people of NC-02 and our country. Republicans and Democrats must get back to working together in order to solve the problems of today to fight for better health care, better jobs and better education.

HOLDING: I have to do what I think is right. I saw eye to eye with the president on the tax cuts and voted with him. However, there will also be times when we disagree.

MATEMU: Support him when he acts to expand individual freedoms and liberties and oppose him when he encroaches on those. Every individual should be free to map his own destiny without the interference of government. I will support him where I see opportunities for all individuals to succeed and oppose him if I see him taking sides.