Saturday, December 24, 2005

Hill To Run Again

The News Reporter
Hill to run again
By MIKE HELM

Another one of Columbus County’s powerful senior legislators announced this week that he would seek re-election.

State Rep. Dewey Hill of Lake Waccamaw, who has steadily gained in power and seniority since replacing Leo Mercer in the state House, said he would ask voters to elect him to an eighth term.

State Sen. R.C. Soles Jr. is seeking his 20th term in the General Assembly and 16th in the Senate. Hill now represents all of Columbus and parts of rural western Brunswick County. He survived a tight race with Tabor City lawyer Richard Wright two years ago, losing to Wright in Columbus County, but carrying the election with a large win in Brunswick County.

The issues that caused Hill trouble last election have been settled and a challenger has not yet stepped forward. Filing begins Feb. 12.

Hill chairs the House Agriculture Committee, is vice-chairman of the House Finance Committee and is a member of the powerful Rules Committee, which is the gateway for passing laws.

Hill said he would focus on building agribusiness in Columbus County. He said he is certain that a recently discussed deal to sell the shell building at Southeast Regional Park to a foreign company would happen.

He said state revenues this year have been higher than projected and lawmakers could probably lift the temporary one-half cent sales tax in the short session. The tax generates $500 million per year.

Hill said South Carolina has a lower state sales tax and North Carolina border counties lose a lot of sales, particularly on big-ticket items, to retailers in the Palmetto State.

Medicaid is another issue that Hill said there is a good chance of making inroads on. Columbus County pays $4 million per year on average for Medicaid expenses.

North Carolina is the only state that requires counties to contribute a fixed part of the cost of the federal healthcare program for poor families and children. The General Assembly rejected several bills last session that would have phased out the counties’ contributions.

Hill did not limit himself to one more term and said he would continue to work in the Legislature as long as he was able and the voters were willing.

Hill works non-stop. In an interview before the 2003 election, Hill said work has always been central to his life.

“The only thing I’ve ever known is work,” he said proudly. “I don’t fish, hunt or golf. I don’t ever remember taking a vacation. My father was the hardest working person I’ve ever known. Work is my hobby. I took a family-owned grocery store and with the help of good people, built a 38-store chain. I started a real estate development company that has done a lot in North and South Carolina.”

Hill is proud of his constituent service and said he brings the same work ethic he has in business to his job as a state legislator, making himself available to any resident at his office in Raleigh or Whiteville, plus by telephone and e-mail.

“People have been good to Dewey Hill and I want to be good to people,” he said.

posted by David at 7:13 PM :: Permalink ::

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