From Greek restaurant kitchen, candidate hopes to gain seat in NC House

by Jordan Green

Georgia Nixon-Roney, a candidate for NC House District 61, introduced herself to a group of Republican women at the Deep River Plantation Clubhouse in late March.

“My parents moved here in 1959 from Greece, and I was born in High Point, North Carolina,” she said. “I’ve lived in Jamestown ever since they moved there when I was two. Being Greek, my parents owned a restaurant. I’m sure that’s no surprise to anybody. And another no surprise is that they had four kids just so we could run the restaurant for them. I began at age eight, and that’s the truth. I started washing vegetables and prepping work, and I haven’t stopped working since.”

The 44-year-old lawyer is engaged in a four-way primary to fill the seat currently held by Laura Wiley, who decided against seeking reelection. The other candidates include High Point City Councilman John Faircloth, business owner Paul Norcross and mortgage broker Gerald Grubb. Early voting runs through Friday, and the official primary election day is May 4. With an all-Republican slate, the primary winner will face no opposition in the November general election.

Nixon-Roney registered as a Republican when she turned 18. The choice was natural, she said, considering the work ethic and sense of frugality instilled in her by her parents. She said she would view the state’s budget much as she views the budget for her family’s household and her law firm.

“My husband’s company was bought out three years ago,” Nixon-Roney said. “We didn’t miss a beat because we lived below our means. If this law office needs to be repainted, I don’t tell my clients that they need to pay me more for my services. You cannot tell me there’s not room for some cuts in the budget. I believe we should go back to zero and build the budget from the ground up. I know it’s very time consuming, and you might not do it every year or every two years, but I think we could certainly do it every five years.”

Like most of her opponents, Nixon-Roney takes a practical view of governing. While District 61 is considered a safe Republican seat, registered Republicans only outnumber their Democratic counterparts by a 0.4 percent margin.

As a criminal attorney, Nixon-Roney has represented Latin Kings leader Jorge Cornell, with mixed results. As a lawyer with a practice in High Point, Nixon-Roney has not been subject to the same sensitivities as elected officials in Greensboro, who have taken pains to avoid appearing sympathetic to Cornell’s longstanding protest that the police department has treated his group unfairly.

As a general philosophy, Nixon-Roney said she believes the state creates too many laws. Texting while driving and cyberstalking are a couple recent criminal statutes that she said go too far.

“Reading the statutes, some are very vague,” she said. “Some are borderline unconstitutional. They taught us in law school to see all sides of situations. We’re trained to see the unintended consequences. Passing a new law is not always the answer. I think if you look closely enough a lot of times there’s already a law there.”

Nixon-Roney has won the endorsement of the NC Advocates for Justice, an organization of lawyers. More surprising, perhaps, is her endorsement from the NC Association of Educators and its local counterpart in Guilford County. Nixon- Roney supports lifting the cap on charter schools, a position that is in line with the viewpoints of her opponents.

“I’m in favor of neighborhood schools,” she said. “We’re spending a lot of money trying to draw these lines to achieve socio-economic diversity. But how are parents supposed to get involved when schools are so far away? The money for transportation could be spent someplace else.”

One of Nixon-Roney’s strongest beliefs, also in line with her overall conservative philosophy, is that the state needs to reduce its corporate tax rate and create a simplified regulatory structure such as the one in place in Delaware that encourages businesses to incorporate. Lower taxes and less regulation, the candidate contends, will create a favorable business climate and create more tax revenue in the long run.

Nixon-Roney has served on the Jamestown Town Council since 2007 and has risen to the position of mayor pro tem. Her government experience coupled with her relative youth, she said, makes her the best person for the House seat because she will have time to learn the job.

“You can’t go in there with guns blazing,” she said. “You make friends, and you try to understand the other person’s plight. You can be persuasive. For example: the Furniture Market. That’s not just High Point’s Furniture Market. My parents have a restaurant in Greensboro that gets clientele from the market. People in Jamestown and Thomasville rent out their homes during market. Outside of the county there are still people making furniture. It’s their market.”

Georgia Nixon-Roney (courtesy photo)