By Maggie Tobias
N.C. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Democratic gubernatorial candidate, shared his views on hot-button issues when he stopped at the Sylva Herald last week.
"This race is an important race. North Carolina is truly at a crossroads," he said. "Are we going to move forward or are we going to move backward?"
Dalton, 62, said he's different from his fellow candidates for governor because of his comprehensive approach to the issues.
"One talks jobs; one talks education. I talk jobs and education and how they intersect," he said. "I think I'm the one candidate that understands innovation and creativity."
Those skills will be useful as North Carolina shifts from a manufacturing-based economy to an information-based one, he said.
"We have to refocus our efforts, we have to retrain our people and we have to recruit aggressively," he said.
Dalton said the end of the current recession will reveal a large range of essential jobs, including care for the "baby boomer" generation and careers in biotech.
It's just as important to support small businesses and entrepreneurship, he said.
But just as important as creating jobs is maintaining a strong educational system.
"With the cuts that we've seen to education, I'm afraid we're hurting our future very drastically," he said.
As a member of the state Senate, Dalton in 2003 wrote the Innovation Education Act, which created the N.C. early college system.
Gov. Bev Purdue is not seeking re-election.
"I think she was very brave to say that," he said. "I think that had to be a very tough decision for her."
A native of Rutherfordton, Dalton served six terms in the state Senate and was elected lieutenant governor in 2008.
Dalton lives in Rutherford County, and he said if he's elected he'll be the first governor to have an 828 area code.
He noted that the 828 area code did not exist when Jackson County native Dan Moore, was governor from 1965-69.