With the North Carolina legislature set to get to work on the 25th for its long session, we’re profiling a couple of the new faces from out here in the west. Cody Henson, a Brevard Republican, will represent North Carolina’s 113th district in the House. The district encompasses parts of Henderson, Polk, and Transylvania Counties. Henson will fill the shoes of former House member Chris Whitmire, who retired. Henson’s a young guy, just 24 years old and will be the youngest member of the legislature. But he seems mature beyond his years. He has a wife and kid, helps run a call center, and served as a Marine reserve. Henson says the Marines taught him to grow up.
“You lose that sense of selfishness and it’s about making sure that guy next to you makes it home.”
Henson’s been involved in politics as a leader of the Transylvania County young Republicans, but this will be his first time in the General Assembly. He’ll join a Republican supermajority where even a freshman lawmaker could get his priorities heard. Henson told me his top priorities will be jobs and public education. He’s a conservative Christian, motivated by his faith. He has said before his opinion could change but his convictions could not. On House Bill 2, he’s for it. He called it a commonsense bill.
“Men don’t belong in women’s restrooms and I think there’s not really been that dialogue on either side.”
Henson talked at length about dialogue during our conversation, emphasizing his willingness to speak to anyone.
“There are times when things are so contentious over hot-button issues, that you don’t want to hear the other side, because you know what they’re going to say. And kind of the mentality is, ‘Well they’re not going to change their mind, and I’m not gonna change my mind.’
But Henson says at least at the end of the day that conversation needs to happen. He won’t agree completely with his Republican colleagues on all issues either. His support for public education, and in particular his skepticism about private school vouchers, could put him at odds with his own party.
“I personally feel that if a parent chooses to send their child to a private school, that they should front the bill for that.”
When I asked him about the low pay for lawmakers, Henson told me he personally thinks that’s the main reason most people can’t or won’t serve in the legislature. And he says that could be why sometimes the policies out of Raleigh don’t seem to be in the interest of working people.
“Someone who goes and punches a time clock, works 40-plus hours a week, comes home, raises a family, does sporting events on the weekends with their kids, and do it all again on Monday morning. I feel like sometimes there’s a disconnect there.”
Henson said he’d support a pay raise for lawmakers but he won’t be pushing hard for it. He says being in Raleigh will be tough. He’ll miss his family while he’s there, but they know why he’s there.
“I’ve got a one year old son, and I heard a Ronald Reagan quote back in high school, it was the first time I heard it. And it said ‘Freedom’s not passed along in the bloodstream. It has to be fought for.’ And I want to pass that on to my son, so I know I’ve got to fight for it.”
The full interview with Henson is above. Below is a shorter profile feature that aired on WCQS.