Ken Byrd filed in February that he will seek election to the NC House of Representatives, District 52.
Ken is a retired Air Force Colonel, spending a total of thirty years (both Reserve and Active) in uniform. His Dad was also an Air Force officer and Ken spent his childhood traveling with his family and living around the world. He graduated from Cocoa Beach High School, Cocoa Beach Florida in 1970, where he grew up in the shadow of the Apollo program at Cape Canaveral. He attended The Citadel in Charleston SC on a combination of ROTC scholarship and National Defense Student Loans. Upon graduating from The Citadel in 1974, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Due to the impending end of the Viet Nam War, Ken initially was placed in the Air Force Reserve and began working in the civilian sector. His first position was with the Office of Student Recruiting at The Citadel. Eventually, he went to work for Burlington Industries in Production Management, holding positions as the General Manager of the Weave Department, Halifax Plant; Spinning Dept. Manager, Oxford Plant; and Preparation Dept. Manager, Raeford Plant. Ken was recalled to active duty and finished his military career serving in a variety of assignments that literally took him from coast to coast. Ken deployed to DESERT SHIELD/STORM and served in a variety of assignments including commander of the Riyadh Aerial Port and then as the first Air Force liaison officer to US Army Support Command (SUPCOM). When he returned from DESERT STORM, he was assigned to the Pentagon. While serving at Scott AFB, Ken was selected as the first non-flying commander of Tuzla Air Base, Bosnia-Herzegovina and as the Senior Air Force officer in the theatre.
When Ken retired, he began his career as a consultant, working in the Homeland Security and Threat ad Vulnerability Assessment arena in the Post 9-11 environment. Ken initially worked with a Fortune 100 company and then decided to run his own independent consulting firm working with other organizations in the Washington DC area.
Ken was fortunate enough to meet and marry a local Aberdeen lady in 1986. Following his military career, Becky reminded Ken that he had promised to bring her back to NC when he retired, so they left the Northern Virginia area and headed back to NC, eventually settling in Aberdeen, Becky’s home town. They have four children and nine grandchildren.
In Aberdeen, Ken began attending meetings at Town Hall and after one of the sessions approached (then) Mayor Betsy Moefield and asked what he could do to get involved in local government. Betsy replied “be careful what you ask for” and shortly afterwards Ken was appointed to the Town’s Planning Board and eventually he ran for and was elected as a Commissioner for the Town of Aberdeen.
Ken choose to run for the NC House of Representatives, District 52 because it has become obvious that our County does not have a voice at the state level. The county currently has a representative that has gone to Raleigh and forgotten who he was to serve and why he was there. Many of our elected officials have forgotten a founding principle: Our Elected Officials Work for Us!
In announcing his candidacy, Byrd indicated he would be a representative “of the people, by the people and for the people” of Moore County. Ken stated “I will serve the people of Moore County with a servant’s heart and be responsible only to the citizens of this county.”
His number one priority is to work both in Raleigh and at the county level to ensure that our schools are fully funded. “Our children should not have to worry about what programs will or will not be funded; whether music and art programs will be relegated to carts; or if their teachers will be re-assigned to cover other classes due to the mandated (but unfunded) K-3 class size reduction”. We need to equip our teachers and our students with all the tools they need to ensure that the learning experience – at all levels – is the best it can be. By equipping our students with a quality education today, they can become the principled leaders of tomorrow. Fixing the NC Lottery to see a greater portion of the generated dollars going directly into the educations arena (for construction) will go a long way in relieving some of the burden on our local tax payers. Currently, only 17% of the lottery funding goes to educational support.
Secondly, we need jobs. When was the last time you heard of a Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000 company making an announcement about locating their company in this county? During the past ten years, our current representative has not been involved in any major job announcements. We need to change that. Part of making our county attractive will be to improve the infrastructure – particularly the natural gas, electric transmission and distribution lines, rail and water and sewer to industrial locations. If we build industrial parks that major businesses can move into……….they will come!
Another priority will be to work closely with the Moore County Commissioners and other local leaders to ensure that as a “team” we can do what is best for Moore County and all of our citizens. Imagine what we can accomplish if the state representatives and the county officials are working together as a team! There are too many decisions being made in Raleigh that are not beneficial to the citizens of Moore County. The Tier System (established in 1996) is a perfect example. Moore County is rated as a Tier III county – one of twenty such counties in NC – and as such sees tax dollars going to other counties which are designated Tier I and II. While the overall wealth and earned income in part of Moore County is very high, there are parts of our county that are struggling. However, since we are a Tier III county, we cannot use our own tax revenues to help the areas that are struggling – we send monies to other counties. We need to keep our tax dollars in this county so we can our schools, our economic development and our capital improvement needs. We deserve a system that works for Moore County – that is all we are asking for!
We need a representative that will be responsive to our citizens. Every citizen has the right to contact their representative and expect a reply. Too many times we hear that individuals have reached out with a concern or comment about legislative agenda items and have never had the courtesy of a reply. I will end that process and I WILL respond to each and every inquiry.
I will have a servant’s heart. Going to Raleigh is a privilege, a privilege that must not be forgotten. We send a representative to the state capitol to do just that – represent us, not special interest groups or programs that will have no benefit to Moore County. Our elected representative must always remember where they came from, who put them there and why they are a servant of the people. Anything less is not acceptable.
I know that taking on an incumbent will be a tough battle. However, I think that it is time for us to have real representation – for everyone in Moore County – not just for a few. It is time for us to look to the future and become engaged in the growth that we see happening every day in this county, while still working to maintain our great quality of life.
I look forward to your support, guidance and prayers.