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Protecting property rights, ending “corporate welfare” and fighting the national ID card movement are high on Phillip Rhodes’ priority list as he begins campaigning for lieutenant governor of North Carolina.
The Brunswick County native, who now lives in Chapel Hill, recently filed as the Libertarian candidate for the second-highest office in the state, soon after the party was reinstated in North Carolina.
“I’m dissatisfied with the current crop of leaders, and I’m a big advocate for individual freedom and the free market,” he said recently.
Rhodes grew up in the Civietown community near Shallotte and lived there for 26 years. He graduated from West Brunswick High School in 1991, and earned associates’ degrees from Brunswick Community College and Wake Technical Institute.
Rhodes volunteered with the Civietown Volunteer Fire Department for a number of years, working his way up from probationary firefighter to assistant chief.
He now works as a software engineer for a company in Morrisville.
Rhodes became active in the state’s Libertarian Party in 1996, and this year, he decided to try his hand at running for the lieutenant governor’s seat, his first time seeking public office.
He was active in re-establishing the state Libertarian party, soliciting support to get the required number of signatures to get the party back on the ballot. North Carolina Libertarians lost their state certification in 2004 when they failed to earn 10 percent of votes in the presidential and state elections.
“North Carolina has some of the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country,” Rhodes commented.
Now that the party is reinstated, about 30 candidates have filed for offices in the state.
Rhodes says he is focusing his campaign on four key issues, the first being property rights.
“I’m adamantly opposed to annexation and eminent domain,” he said. “It’s my position that government exists as an extension of our individual rights. To take property by force is morally wrong and a violation of those rights.”
Second on his list is fighting financial incentives to attract business, or “corporate welfare.”
“It is not just to collect tax money from citizens and give it to businesses, mostly from other states,” he said. “It’s like buying jobs.”
Rhodes said he favors providing incentives to local entrepreneurs and small businesses to foster smarter economic growth within communities.
Thirdly, he plans to advocate for amending the state constitution to remove the language put in after the Civil War stating that North Carolina would never again secede from the Union.
“I don’t believe in that,” he said. “I’m not saying we should secede, but if you voluntarily join a group, you should be able to voluntarily leave that group.”
Finally, he opposes any effort to establish national identification cards and says he would fight against North Carolina participating in any such effort.
So what kind of reaction has he received from the public so far?
Rhodes says a lot of “dissatisfied Republicans” have come on board and joined the party, while others have said they may not agree with all the Libertarian views, but they think the candidates should be on the ballot to provide voters with another choice.
As a Brunswick County native, Rhodes says he’s familiar with problems facing rural counties in the state and is ready to address them.
“I’m just a regular guy,” he said.
sarah shew wilson is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or firstname.lastname@example.org.