Sue Counts, a Boone resident for over 33 years, is running for North Carolina State House this fall with the hopes of winning the representative seat for district 93, made up of Ashe and Watauga counties.
Counts retired from her position as Watauga County extension director for the North Carolina Cooperative Extension
Service in 2008, a career that began for her in 1993. She is originally from Virginia and graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with degrees in home economics and nutrition.
Her platform is focused on what she calls “the three Es”: education, the economy and the environment, though she names the decline of North Carolina’s public school system as the reason she finally decided to run for office.
“It was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Counts said.
A self-described “lifelong learner,” Counts said she has a primary concern for public K-12 schools, but strongly believes in higher education as well.
“What I have seen happen in Raleigh with making [budget] cuts, we’ve reached rock bottom with education,” Counts said.
Since 2011, federal budget cuts have delegated a loss of nearly $500 million across the UNC system, a problem that Counts wants to fix by taxing large corporations and utilizing the money in state-funded public universities.
“I really feel that after public education, we need to focus on higher education,” Counts said. “We don’t have enough money to do the things we need to do.”
Counts enjoys the company of Appalachian State University students and believes it to be a great public university, saying, “I love living in a college town, that’s a huge asset for me.”
In addition to monetary issues, Counts said she feels year-round citizens of Boone could foster a better relationship with students.
“A segment of the population in Boone don’t like having students around,” Counts said. “They see it as an inconvenience, but they’re thinking about the negatives, not the positives. They need to get in touch with a commonality where they can grow.”
In June, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process that involves injecting chemicals into ground or rocks in order to extract oil or gas, was legalized in North Carolina, a motion that Counts said she opposes entirely.
“It’s going to be a disaster if we allow it,” Counts said. “It would destroy our water system. We need to have regulations in place that will prevent these things from happening.”
Counts’ focus on environment also spans to small business practices, especially sustainable energy in businesses, which she said is a possibility that needs to be explored further.
Story: Laney Ruckstuhl, News Editor