N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, speaks to a room packed full of Lenoir County citizens Friday afternoon at a special town hall meeting Thursday at King’s Restaurant.
Janet S. Carter / The Free Press
by David Anderson
A standing-room only crowd of more than 90 people filled a banquet room at King’s Restaurant on Thursday to hear from and ask questions of N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis.
Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, spent about an hour interacting with citizens, civic leaders and elected officials from Lenoir County and the surrounding communities. Thursday’s event was one of three town halls Tillis is hosting in Eastern North Carolina this week.
“Kinston is certainly honored to have you here today,” said Mayor B.J. Murphy, who introduced Tillis.
The town hall was preceded by a “Dutch lunch,” in which citizens paid to have lunch at King’s with Tillis. Restaurant owner Joe Hargitt said about 50 to 60 people purchased lunch.
The House speaker encouraged those attending the town hall to continue to interact with their legislators in Raleigh and “keep us honest.”
“We need your challenge and we’d appreciate your involvement as we go forward,” he said.
Tillis opened by reviewing the recently-concluded legislative session, the first session in more than a century during which Republicans held the majority in the House and Senate.
“We passed a budget sooner than any time since 1973 in spite of being handed a $3 billion deficit,” he said.
Tillis said 400 bills were passed during this year’s session — 15 were vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue and about half of those vetoes were successfully overridden.
“I’m proud of what our members have done in the House and Senate. … I want you to know you should be very proud of the members in this room,” said Tillis, who recognized four area legislators who attended the town hall, including Reps. Stephen LaRoque, R-Lenoir, Efton Sager, R-Wayne and Jimmy Dixon, R-Duplin, and Sen. Brent Jackson, R-Sampson.