We asked candidates for state and local office to tell us about their views on public education. Here are their answers.

Our Schools First sent a survey to every candidate for state legislature, Iredell County Commission, and Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education. OS1 does not endorse or recommend candidates in the 2018 Election–we simply wanted to provide the following information to help guide voters in their decision.

Gene Houpe

Gene Houpe, submitted photo

Gene Houpe
Republican, incumbent Commissioner


Qualifications and Experience

I have served as an Iredell County Commissioner since 2014. I have served on the Education Task Force and the General Government Task Force, along with many other boards and committees. Additionally, I have been a small business over 25 years and have been in law enforcement for 31 years. I was honored to be endorsed by OS1 in the 2016 race. Since my election, I have continued to support education, as it is the best investment we can make in our county.


I am a lifelong resident of Iredell County. I am one of seven children of the late Frank and Gaynell Houpe. I graduated from Statesville High School and Florida State University, where I had the fortune of playing football under the leadership of Bobby Bowden. I have been married for 22 years to Tonya Houpe and am blessed to be the father of five beautiful children, whose ages range from 10 to 18. I am a member of Western Avenue Baptist Church, where I serve as an usher and security team member.

OS1 Questions

1. Do you believe that all children in Iredell County, regardless of where they live, are entitled to the same quality of education?

Absolutely. All children deserve the very best education. Our children are the next generation of our workforce and hopefully will decide to live and work in Iredell County when they graduate. It is crucial that we develop quality educational programs so that any child, no matter their interest or career goals, get the preparation they need to be productive citizens.

2. Do you think that all children in Iredell County are currently receiving the same quality of education?

Yes. We have three top-notch school systems within this county, each earning wonderful results. Some of our schools are serving populations who face extreme challenges. It is not fair to assume that the teachers of these schools are providing any less quality of education, simply because their test scores are lower than another school.

3. Do you think that the level of funding for public schools in North Carolina is adequate? If not, do you think it’s the County’s or the State’s responsibility to increase public education funding?

We always have needs in our schools. While more funding is not always the answer to solving problems, I do know that we are in desperate need of funding for additional counselors, nurses, social workers, and school resource officers. I have advocated at both the federal and state level to have funding increased for these positions. I also have advocated, at the state level, to end unfunded mandates that the state passes on to the local level to fund, like the recent class size requirements that has the potential to have a devastating impact on our county budget.

4. Do you support the proposed Iredell County ¼ cent sales tax increase on the November 6, 2018 ballot?

Yes. In order for us to increase services and funding, we must have an additional revenue stream. Sales tax is paid by all citizens and visitors in the county instead of just land owners, making it the fairest tax.. The proceeds from this tax has the potential to fund safety and security for the school systems and provide increases to supplements, among other things. An important note is that over 50% of the revenue will be generated by people who do not live in Iredell County.

5. If you do support the proposed sales tax increase, do you believe that the local School Boards are best equipped to decide how to use additional sales tax revenue for our schools? If not, who is best equipped to make these decisions?

Yes. The school system sets their budget and the Board of Education approves it. If the Board does not make wise decisions, they are held accountable to the taxpayers who vote for them.

6. Are you aware of the recent North Carolina School Report Card which graded all schools in the Iredell County?

Yes, I am aware of the rating system. This is also something that I have advocated against at the state level. The current practice unfairly labels schools who serve the most difficult populations as failing when oftentimes they make the most growth and whose teachers must work even harder to overcome obstacles that teachers of higher rated schools do not have. I believe growth should weigh more heavily in the formula for these schools.