Lawmaker Interview: Rep. Kevin Corbin of NC 120
-Rep. Kevin Corbin seeks more K-12 funding, 'Whistle-blower' protection for local cops-
With North Carolina lawmakers now back in Raleigh for this year’s long session, we’ve been talking with legislators out here in the west.
One of the mountain’s newest legislators is Representative Kevin Corbin, a Republican of Macon County, who is by no means new to government. Before his victory for the District 120 seat — Corbin served for 20 years on the Macon County Board of Education, and six years as a county commissioner. He’s eager to get to work, but the task, he admits, is a formidable one.
“It’s a very exciting new role. A lot to learn, I’ll have to be honest with you, but it’s fun, and I think we’re going to have a good time representing the folks here in Western North Carolina.”
Despite entering office as a Republican in the heavily red counties of Macon, Graham, Clay and Cherokee, Corbin has a hard time describing himself politically.
“You have to pick an issue. If you talk about public education, I believe in public education. I believe it’s one of the greatest investments that we can make. To some people, that would make me a moderate or a liberal.”
However when it comes to things like seatbelt laws, Corbin believes they should ultimately be a personal decision, making him a Libertarian. But when it comes to finance, size of government and regulations?
“I’m very much a fiscal conservative. I consider myself a conservative republican, and also morally conservative. Some of my best friends are liberal democrats, and we just agree to disagree on a few issues, and that’s okay, I think we can do that.”
In his spare time, Corbin says he enjoys outdoor activities, such as hunting and camping, and he's fond of local music.
"Now that I serve in the House of Representatives, I'm still just me. I'm just Kevin Corbin, who happens to be a representative in Western North Carolina."
Corbin says his Western North Carolina district has needs unique which he plans to address. They include providing adequate funding for rural public schools. For instance, in Macon County, there are three high schools, but two of them, Nantahala and Highlands Schools, are also K-12.
“If you know anything about education, you understand that to run Nantahala School, costs per student are many times what it costs at Franklin High School. You still provide the same courses, you still provide the same things, you’re providing sports, you’re providing all those things that you provide for those students, but you’re providing it at a much lower census at that school, so it costs more per student.”
And when there are only four or five students per class, like there are in many of the K-12 schools in his district—it’s often up to county governments to foot the bill, instead of the state.
“I submit that we are handicapped because of that, and for that reason I plan to introduce legislation to increase funding to counties who have K-12 schools.”
As an endorsee of the Police Benevolent Association, Corbin also intends to introduce legislation protecting local law enforcement.
“If you are an officer on the state level, or federal, you are protected under the Whistle Blower Act. If you report that one of your supervisors is doing something illegal, whether that has to do with money or the function of their job, if you’re that whistle blower you’re protected against being fired. I didn’t know that’s not true for any of your municipalities, or your counties.”
Above all, Corbin intends to make constituent service his top priority in his first term.
“When folks call from these far-western counties with issues from the state government, whether it be DOT, school system, whatever it is, we’re going to respond to that.”
Corbin now serves on the House Appropriations, Education and Insurance committees, among others.