Why I enjoy ‘SERVING’ in the NC General Assembly By: Representative Bob Steinburg, NC House District 1

Special to the Albemarle Tradewinds

When most folks think about those who represent them in Washington, D.C. or in Raleigh, some envision their elected officials out of touch. I get it. In many cases they are. The federal government has grown to become so behemoth it often seems out of control and unresponsive to the needs of the citizenry. Each district in the U.S. House of Representatives consists of almost 700,000 individuals. You want to talk with your representative? It can be a daunting challenge.

In the North Carolina General Assembly, I represent about 82,000 individuals in my House District; Senate District 1 has an additional 100,000 persons. While these numbers are large and will continue to grow as our state experiences significant increases in population, one likely could have a greater opportunity to personally interact with his or her state representative, especially if that representative considers constituent service important. I do! With me and my office, it is job 1.

When I first ran for the House in 2010 I did so in part because of my strong desire to serve. I was frustrated by seldom hearing from my representative, and if I did it was via mail or email. Was anyone really listening? I said to myself, “If I ever had the opportunity to serve in the legislature, I would do all I could to personally connect with those who reached out to me and my office for help.

I got that chance when I was first elected to the state House in 2012. Being a new legislator presented many issues and challenges and a steep learning curve. You don’t just step into a legislative seat and hit the ground running. You must stop, look, listen and learn. There are committee meetings, caucus meetings, legislative sessions, phone calls to return, letters to answer along with emails and texts. It is also imperative to learn the myriad of proper protocols including House and Senate rules of operation. There are duties to perform and events to attend, at home and in Raleigh. Legislators have a full plate.

While writing a bill of major import and then doing all you can to shepherd it to passage is a fulfilling and rewarding experience, it cannot, in my view, hold a candle to helping a constituent work through an issue where few or no apparent doors appear open. It is difficult for a constituent to try and navigate through unchartered, seemingly unnavigable and sadly all too often, the unfriendly waters of a government bureaucracy. The most satisfying aspect of being an elected representative is to help charter the course to get those problems or issues resolved. It is most important that a representative be there for their constituents when they need them most. Nothing is more important to me than this.

In almost six years of representing the citizens of North Carolina House District 1, I have received many requests for help. Some are related to things like getting a road fixed, stop signs or stop lights placed, securing a historic marker or other issues related to committees I may serve on like Agriculture, which I co-chair.

Then there is the prison crisis that was thrust upon us after the five murders of state employees last year. Four of those deaths occurred in Pasquotank County and one occurred in neighboring Bertie County. A National Correctional Institute report confirmed what many have suspected for years: our prisons are in crisis and in absolute need of reform from top to bottom. I am doing everything I can to ensure that reform is put on the front burner of the legislature and thoroughly addressed before another life is needlessly and tragically lost.

But then there are other issues that constituents need help with; the ones no one ever hears about but are every bit equally as important to those that are going through them. The young boy whose mother is a teacher who was in a horrible accident and is told that the Moms health insurance won’t pay for the specialized care he will need in Atlanta if he is to have any chance at a near complete recovery. The gentleman who called me and told me he had two weeks to live and wanted another chance at life. Could I get him into an experimental program at Duke that might extend his life? The mom who was being transferred to North Carolina but was told her special needs foster child could not accompany her because of red tape with another state. These are but three of many examples I could cite that our office has worked to successfully resolve for the folks we faithfully serve.

Serving in the legislature continues to be an honor and a privilege. I hope voters in this upcoming primary will allow me to continue to serve northeastern North Carolina in the Senate next year. Service to others is a gift from God. The General Assembly allows me to help others in ways I could never have imagined. Thank you for allowing me to serve you, the wonderful folks who call northeastern North Carolina home.

Why I enjoy ‘SERVING’ in the NC General Assembly By: Representative Bob Steinburg, NC House District 1 Why I enjoy ‘SERVING’ in the NC General Assembly  By: Representative Bob Steinburg, NC House District 1 Reviewed by kensunm on 2:30:00 PM Rating: 5

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