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    CANDIDATES FOR 5TH DISTRICT SEAT FOCUS ON JOB LOSS, TRADE AT FORUM

    BY Lisa Hoppenjans
    01/22/2004
    by Lisa Hoppenjans on 1/22/04.

    MOCKSVILLE Two small-town candidates in the 5th Congressional District race
    played up their roots yesterday in the last of a series of forums sponsored by
    Citizens for a Sound Economy.

    Joe Byrd, a former chairman of the Wilkes County Board of Commissioners, told the 11 people in attendance that his family settled in Wilkes County in 1796.

    He added that he grew up as one of 10 children of a Baptist minister.

    David Vanhoy, who lives about 3 miles outside of the 5th District lines in
    Guilford County, said he spent the first 40 years of his life living in the district. He recalled working on his family's tobacco farm.

    "My summers were filled with succoring and priming tobacco," he said. "I'm an
    average citizen, just like you."

    Vanhoy, 53, is the owner of Airflow Inc., a Greens-boro company that
    distributes air compressors. He is also a firefighter for the Summerfield
    Volunteer Fire Department, which he said responds to calls in the 5th District.

    Byrd, 52, is a probation and parole officer for the N.C. Department of
    Correction and a real-estate broker.

    Vanhoy and Byrd, two of the lesser-known candidates in the race, rank near the bottom of the Republican candidates in campaign dollars raised.

    The Republican field includes Vernon Robinson, a member of the Winston-Salem
    City Council; state Sen. Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk; Ed Powell, a former state representative; Jay Helvey and Ed Broyhill, both Winston-Salem businessmen; and Nathan Tabor, a vice president at Revival Soy, which is based in Kernersville.

    With the exception of Broyhill, all the candidates have appeared in the
    Citizens for a Sound Economy forum series. An organizer said that Broyhill
    declined an invitation to appear yesterday.

    As in the other forums, job loss was a major focus of the candidates. Byrd
    blamed job losses on trade policies, arguing that the United States should
    require that parties to its free-trade agreements set a minimum wage and
    workplace standards. If countries refused, Byrd said, the United States should charge tariffs to make the price of U.S. goods more competitive with foreign goods.

    "If our products are competitive again, we will renew our country's entrepreneurial spirit," Byrd said.

    Vanhoy said that as a businessman whose company has created jobs in nine of the
    state's 13 congressional districts, he has a strong understanding of North
    Carolina industry. He blamed illegal immigration and trade agreements with such nations as China for the region's economic woes. "Why do we support a (Chinese) government that does not meet any of the values we have in our own country?" he asked.

    Byrd highlighted prescription-drug costs as another important issue and said he would introduce legislation that would allow American pharmacies to purchase and resell FDA-approved drugs from foreign countries at lower prices.

    "It's hypocrisy at its worst that we allow China to be part of the World Trade Organization and give them most-favored nation status a but we would not let a senior citizen or someone who can't get a job buy prescription medicine from Canada," Byrd said.

    Vanhoy also took issue with prescription-drug costs, arguing against a provision in the new prescription-drug benefit to Medicare that prohibits the U.S. secretary of health and human services from negotiating lower drug prices.

    "I'm a businessman, I know that what I do is negotiate if I want a lower
    price," Vanhoy said.

    Lisa Hoppenjans can be reached at 727-7369 or at lhoppenjans@wsjournal.com

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    Photos; Joe Byrd 2. David Vanhoy