Lawmaker Interview: Senator Jim Davis of Franklin

Jan 26, 2017

With lawmakers back in Raleigh for the long session, we’re talking to some of those legislators out here in the west.  Representing the farthest district west in the Senate is Republican Jim Davis.  District 50 covers some ground, spanning seven counties: Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, and Swain.  Davis resides in Franklin.  The 70-year-old Senator has been in dentistry for over four decades.  He’ll still be a practicing orthodontist on Mondays and Fridays in Franklin even during the long session.

“The legislative salary is not very lucrative, and my wife and I still enjoy eating.”

Davis says the job is lots of fun, and gives him a chance to get to know lots of people, especially kids, over a matter of time.

“To impact their lives, not only in straightening their smiles, but seeing them develop as young people.”

Going back and forth for Davis won’t be easy.  He’ll have among the longest drives for state lawmakers.

“315 miles each way from Franklin to Raleigh.”

But for Davis, it’s worth it.  He’s always had an interest in politics, serving as a Macon County Commissioner for a decade.  He seems most concerned about economics.

“I’m very disturbed at the national debt.  The legacy we’re leaving those behind us, our kids and grandkids, I think is unconscionable.”

Davis describes his political philosophy as such:

“Politically I’m a fiscal conservative.  I’m really a social libertarian, when it comes to philosophy.  But personally, I’m a very conservative socially, but I don’t feel I have a right to impose my beliefs on other people, so long as they don’t endanger public safety and public welfare.”

Endangering public safety is one argument Republicans have used in defense of House Bill 2.  Davis was there during caucus discussions among Senate Republicans about repealing HB2 during a special session in December.  The deal to repeal ultimately fell apart.  Davis said Republicans were split about evenly on whether to repeal.  Davis blames the Charlotte City Council’s ordinance for the whole ordeal, saying privacy concerns should outweigh issues of gender identity and gender expression.

“I don’t think gender is a fluid condition.  I have no problem.  I don’t understand the gay, lesbian, transgender lifestyle, but I respect people’s ability to do that.”

Lawmakers could try again in this session to repeal HB2.  Meanwhile, there’s a 2 year budget to pass.  Davis hopes to hold the line on spending.  He’d also like to see more of a shift away from income taxes and toward consumption taxes.  He’ll have a key role in road and infrastructure debates as a co-chair of the Senate Transportation committee.  And as an orthodontist, could play a role in discussions over health, one in particular he’s working on already.     

“The new Attorney General, Josh Stein, who I served with in the senate, he’s called me three or four times and I’ve met him personally since then to work on issues with regards to opioid addictions.  You know four of the top ten cities in the United States that abuse opioids are in North Carolina.”

That full conversation is above.  A shorter summary of the conversation is below.