Payment looks to stand out in crowded field
By Julian Eure
Saturday, March 16, 2019
CURRITUCK — The last time Mike Payment faced election, he ran unopposed for his Currituck Board of Commissioners seat in both the Republican primary and the general election.
Payment won’t have as easy a path in his next election.
The 54-year-old second-term county commissioner is one of 17 Republicans who’ve filed for their party’s nomination in the upcoming 3rd Congressional District special election, and one of 26 candidates overall who are vying for the right to succeed U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, who died last month.
Payment, the owner of a heating and air-conditioning business in Currituck, said he decided to run for Jones’ seat after being approached by several people who told him they thought he had both the “qualifications and integrity to represent the district” in Congress.
Payment, who believes he’s “done a good job” representing Currituck since first winning election in 2014, thinks he can replicate that service in Washington, D.C. He touts his business experience — he worked for several large corporations before forming his own business; his military experience — he spent two years in the U.S. Navy right out of high school in the 1980s; and his knowledge of both local government and the region.
Asked how he thinks he can stand out among the other 16 candidates in the GOP primary, including two others from Currituck, Payment notes his heritage — he believes he’s the only Native-American in the race — and his keen interest in education, particularly in programs that teach students technical skills in the trades and other high-demand job areas.
On the subject of his heritage, Payment notes that he’s an active member of the Chippewa Native American Tribe, adding that both his father and mother are Chippewa.
“I am very proud of my heritage,” he said.
As for his interest in career and technical training and trade education, he says the subject can’t be emphasized enough.
“Right now the economy is going strong, and we need a trade workforce to make sure it continues to be strong,” he said.
Payment, who describes himself as a firm supporter of President Trump, said he was excited when he attended a meeting of local government officials at the White House last year, and the subject of directing federal funding to build up trade programs in the states came up.
“I’ve been preaching that for years,” he said.
Payment believes he could help steer “education efforts that meet our job demands” from a position in Washington.
On other issues, Payment takes what he describes as conservative views.
“I’m pro-life, and I would never support any bills that would support the taking of innocent life,” he said.
Payment also backs Trump’s stance on border security. “I do think that we have to protect our borders and we have to stop illegal immigration,” he said. “We need to start taking care of our own.”
He also believes the federal government spends too much, particularly overseas.
“I think our some of spending is ridiculous,” he said. “We need to get control of our spending habits.”
Payment, who plans to attend several of the GOP conventions scheduled across the region this weekend, thinks his chances of winning the April 30 GOP primary “are pretty strong.”
“Once people meet me and have a chance to talk to me and know my background, I think they’ll be impressed,” he said.
That’s because Payment believes he has the kind of skills voters are looking for.
“People want someone who’s approachable and interested in what they have to say,” he said. “And that’s what they’ll see in me once they get to know me.”