BEAUFORT COUNTY – When it comes to government, nothing represents its painful intrusions on individual’s lives more than taxes. That is something Republican candidate for N.C. House District 79 Keith Kidwell understands intimately. The chairman of the Beaufort County GOP has taxes running through his veins, making his living as a second generation tax specialist and proprietor of H&R Block.
Kidwell’s primary opponent has announced his withdrawal from the race, leaving only Democrats obstructing his path to the legislature. First in Freedom Daily spoke with Keith about his candidacy, his conservative credentials, and what has motivated him to represent the good people of the 79th district in the N.C. General Assembly.
“My family has been in the tax business since the late 60s. In fact, I’m second generation with H&R Block, my son is third, my granddaughter is already working here making her the fourth. Every member of my family does, or has worked with H&R Block, even my wife, and mother-in-law, everyone in my family is involved in it.
That has given us a poor disposition for the way things are done in the tax business as far as the government goes. They tax us too much, they spend on ridiculous things that they don’t need to be spending and, quite honestly, many of the things we see passed sometimes don’t even make sense.”
Kidwell gave as an example the State’s sloppy roll out of sales tax expansion, as Republicans understandably moved to diversify the tax base and reduce individual income taxes. When the first laws expanding sales taxes into services were passed, Kidwell asked the Department of Revenue to send a representative to educate his clients on the changes. They refused.
It turns out that they, being the tax officials, didn’t even understand how to properly execute the new tax laws.
“So they put a law in the book, that they intended to enforce, that they themselves did not understand.”
That was a key motivation for Kidwell, 56, to run for office. The new laws were so poorly written, that the average plumber or electrician would basically require an accountant to follow them around to decide what was taxable and what was not.
“That was really a big impetus for me to say, you know what, we need somebody up here, that understands taxes, writing some of these laws. That was really one of the precipitating events that told me, you know what, it’s time to run.”
I’m actually what’s called an Enrolled Agent. I’m licensed by the U.S. Treasury to represent people in front of the IRS and that’s kind of what I do, specialize in tax problems.”
Taxes, and taxpayers are going to be a big part of what I do as far as the General Assembly goes, but I’m also a very staunch conservative. Any time I consider a bill, the first thing I look to will be the Bible, the United States Constitution, and the North Carolina Constitution, and make sure that what we’re doing is in agreement with that.
I don’t believe the government has the authority to pass laws in which the powers are not duly derived from our constitution. I believe we are a nation founded on Christianity and I will use that as one of my guidelines in how we decide what we need to do.”
That’s exactly what we like to hear from aspiring politicians. Unfortunately, such conservatives are often marginalized by a more moderate, establishment Republican caucus and they find themselves isolated and unable to build effective coalitions to drive truly conservative policy.
Having spoken at length to Mr. Kidwell, I can tell you first hand that he comes off as the type of forceful character that is not easily marginalized. Moreover, he has a track record of building formerly fractious coalitions to achieve conservative results.
“My first foray into politics was about eight or nine years ago, there was a gentleman running for county commission in Beaufort County, and the big thing on the table at that point was that we needed a new jail. When I looked into the situation, they were going to spend $50 million on a 375 bed jail, and I know we didn’t need a 375 bed jail seeing as how we only had an 85 bed jail now, and I kind of felt like we shouldn’t be spending $50 million.”
Kidwell pointed to the constitution, reiterating that it stipulates a government cannot spend money that encumbers taxpayers without giving them a referendum.
“I asked them when they were going to give us the chance to vote. The chairman at the time, who is actually very likely to be the Democratic nominee, Jerry Langley, told me ‘Mr. Kidwell, that train has already left the station.’ I said, ‘Well Mr. Langley, I suggest you sit down, strap up, put your seat belt on because I’m about to grab your caboose and drag it back in.”
And drag it back by the caboose, he did. After fighting the issue on principle, and subsequently being elected to chair the Beaufort County GOP, Kidwell stopped the $50 million outlay and kept pushing head with spearheading conservative policy.
“When I came into the party we had three distinct fighting factions within the Republican Party in Beaufort County. I ran on party unity because I don’t believe that any team can function when the team does not work as a team. People told me, ‘Kidwell, you’ll never unite the party.’
This morning, the gentleman who was one of the commissioners at the time I stopped the jail…took a ‘Kidwell for NC House’ sign. To me there’s nothing that says more that I have united the party, in fact, in Beaufort County. We have one strong, functioning Republican Party in Beaufort County that’s doing exactly what we need to do.”
Beyond his focus on easing tax burdens on North Carolinians, Kidwell hopes to bring a demonstrated commitment to constitutional, limited government that keeps individual rights front and center, as outlined by the Founding Fathers.
“Two big things that I’m very interested in, and that’s anything that’s not within the confines of the constitution, and I am also a huge supporter of the Second Amendment. As a matter of fact, I spent the entire weekend down at a gun show in New Bern.
To me the infringements are at both the state and federal level, which our state, quite honestly, has done a great job in overcoming a lot of it, but I think we still have some distance to go.
When I look at things, that’s really want I want to concentrate on: is what we’re trying to do right based on our laws? And that’s really one of the most critical things that a lawmaker is supposed to do. You can’t go by what you feel; you can’t go on what’s warm and fuzzy; you have to go on what the constitution dictates you have the ability and power to do before you exercise those on your constituents. You gotta make sure you’re doing the right thing.”
Democrats, Kidwell said, always think ‘doing the right thing’ means spending more money, from education to handouts.
“The Democratic mantra on just about everything is spend more money on it. Spending more money, as we have clearly seen over the last two generations, has not been effective. What’s effective is assessing what’s right and what’s wrong with whatever particular system we’re talking about.
To me our education system, clearly, is the future of everything. Not just Beaufort County, it’s eastern North Carolina, it’s the United States, it’s the world in general. I think the disconnect that we have is I think spend the appropriate amount of money in just about every case on what the school system should have – I’m not sure that we spend it effectively, and I’m not sure that the school system even really has a problem. I honestly believe that part of this problem starts at home. Parents have go tot be involved in what the kids are doing.”
When it comes to laws passed by legislative bodies, Kidwell think the makeup of the judiciary is just as important as the laws themselves due to the increasing tendency of judges to legislate from the bench.
“When the judicial branch will make up laws, and write laws – we have a problem. We have to be sure when judges are elected, or judges are appointed, particularly at the supreme court level, that we have to be absolutely we’re putting people in there who understand they’re not there to right law. They’re there to interpret law.
I think that’s a large chunk of what we have wrong in the country today is activist judges…they’re running rogue of what the laws are.”
A N.C. General Assembly that includes Keith Kidwell is far less likely to run rogue when it comes to the constitution and the state reaching too far into your pocket. If his record in Beaufort County is any indication, Kidwell will be a conservative force to be reckoned with in the House.
To learn more about Keith Kidwell visit his campaign site here, and familiarize yourself with a likely future leader on Jones Street.