North Carolina lawmakers will head back to Raleigh with some new members representing parts of western North Carolina. Earlier, we profiled Cody Henson, a Republican of Brevard. Today we introduce the new face of the 119th district encompassing Haywood, Jackson, and Swain Counties. Republican Mike Clampitt has run for this seat several times before. In November, he finally got over the top, eking out a win over incumbent Democrat Joe Sam Queen by just around 300 votes.
“It’s a God-given opportunity. I think the people’s voice got to be heard and people turned out to vote that hadn’t voted in quite some time because, frankly, they’ve been discouraged with the process, felt like their voice wasn’t heard.”
Clampitt describes himself as just a country boy, growing up in Bryson City.
“Well I lived six miles out of town on a farm where we had cow and pigs and chickens and dogs and cats, and I lived with my grandmother and helped take care of her.”
Clampitt’s life wouldn’t be spent entirely in a small town. He made his way to Winston-Salem for college and ended up the fire captain for the city of Charlotte, which he did for nearly 3 decades. And for his family, that probably wasn’t a big surprise.
“I never met my real dad until about 12, 14 years ago, and he was a firefighter. His brother was a fire marshall. He had another brother. One of my uncles was a firefighter with the Air Force. So unbeknownst to me, across the board and timewise, I guess I was geared and destined to do that.”
Clampitt is a Christian conservative. His faith has been important to him his whole life and he’s still active in the church now that he’s retired. He’s a staunch supporter of House Bill 2, and he often wears a pro-life lapel pin.
“If more people would be interested in the killing and the destruction of a human life by abortion than they are about the animal wildlife kingdom, I think our world would be a better place.”
Clampitt’s time in Bryson City and Charlotte could make him a good person to help bridge the divide between urban and rural legislators. He hopes that’s the case, anyway.
“A lot of time the folks of the inner city and large metropolitan areas do not get a chance to take in some of the headaches and some the difficulty the rural areas may have in some of the passing of the legislation.”
And Clampitt won’t be new to Raleigh either. He’s served as Assistant Sergeant at Arts for the North Carolina General Assembly.
“All the legislators in Raleigh that are down there that have been elected are there for the greatness of North Carolina. They’re all wanting to work together to keep our state great, make our state greater, and work for the benefit of the people.”
Lawmakers begin the long session on the 25th. You can find that full conversation with Rep. Mike Clampitt above. A short profile that aired on WCQS is below.