The Charlotte Observer Interviewed Me UPDATED!

February 12, 2016

They interviewed me and it only took four years to get around to it.

They had me answer some vague questions. I insisted I respond in writing so there was no mistake in translation. Then they had me call to "review" the writing and took "notes". They did confirm they were able to determine I have no criminal record, but also told me that others running for office DO have criminal records. Very interesting.

 Thanks to Karen Sullivan who took the time to seek me out and write a story.

UPDATE*** Feb. 15, 2016 -  I received this note:

Mr. Rivette,

I wanted to let you know that the editors here have decided to hold the comments you gave me until we begin our coverage of the general election. For the primary, we will focus on the contested races. So I'll be in touch down the road. Thank you for your help with the story.


I am curious to see how the article turns out since this is what I supplied them with for source material:

1. The challenger: 

I am a seasoned business professional who has always taken an interest and charitably served his community in a quiet manner for the past 35 years. My background includes working in marketing, product development, manufacture promotion, and related fields.

Having climbed out of poverty to create more than one business in my lifetime, I have been blessed by others. Consequently, I try to reach out and help those around me. I view my candidacy as a way of helping many families in this state and helping my nation through positive economic growth. 

As a Senator you gain a pulpit through which you can formulate legislation and methods which support economic development. You can also remove some of the many impediments to building new ventures. I take the responsibility of working for our nearly ten million North Carolina residents very seriously, and will devote myself to gathering other like-minded community members to conceive, plan and assist in the goal of growing the Charlotte region job base.

2. Candidate at-a-glance:

Age: 55

Education: Advertising/Marketing, Constitutional and Criminal Law, various Computer Coding courses – School of Visual Arts, Broward College and Gaston Community College

Professional experience: Over 35 years in business and product development working with companies ranging from start-ups to conglomerates in two dozen industrial categories. I have been a consultant and owner, and continue to work with individuals and firms seeking growth.

Political resume: I was the GOP nominee for this same seat in 2012 and 2014.

Family: Married, one child.


3. Why this race matters:

This district in Mecklenburg County is very diverse and contains the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and many wonderful upscale, and middle-class neighborhoods and shopping areas. It also is home to some of the most impoverished areas with the highest unemployment in the state and food deserts where you cannot walk to a grocery with decent prices and get what you need for your family. 

The jobs that are available, very often, are what most would consider “dead-end”, low-wage positions and heavy-labor jobs. None of what the previous Democratic legislatures (for over 135 years), or our current State Senator Ford, have done has had any positive impact on this district. In fact, we have been virtually ignored by our Senator. For 24 years now we had promises of great results, then nothing happened. This continues to this day. It is as if obtaining the position and voting in the legislature is enough. But it has not helped put food on our tables or stabilized our neighborhoods. 

I intend to change that. I will not sit down or just go along with the status quo, regardless of which party holds power. We have tens of thousands of desperate neighbors in our district. It is time we have someone capable of supporting the generation of real job opportunities, better education, improved infrastructure, and a brighter future. I will not stop working to target businesses to locate here. All other societal ills stem from a lack of opportunity, hope and desperation to survive. If we have the careers needed so entire families can advance, many of our problems would disappear. This is the key to our future. 

I am under no illusions. This district is weighted 85% in favor of my opponent. It is 67% African-American Democrat. So why should they trust some white Republican to help them? The easy answer is you have continuously elected those loyal to their party, loyal to the system, but you have never elected someone loyal to YOU. Your needs come first. 

I had no political name or background before the last two elections. I have run clean campaigns without taking money from special interests, so I could vote the way our citizens require, not because someone tells me to vote a certain way. My opponent took tens of thousands of dollars to date, for years, for a position that pays about $14,000 per year. He didn’t take those funds because he intended to help this district. He helped himself. If I do earn funding from any source they must understand I will not be selling votes. That must be clear. I find it odd that a Democrat who promised to do a good job for his district would instead vote 80% of the time with his opposition, often against the needs of this district. It is time to elect someone with clean hands who does not bow to pressure. I cannot be purchased. 

My background, abilities, and willingness to prove myself to this district should warrant a second look, if not a vote. We have given the chance to Senator Ford to make the play, and get us in the game. He did nothing of value. He has had little or no interaction with people who can work with him to make things happen here. He shows up to shake hands and that is all. He explains why he is right. I’d rather we are successful than have a Senator who glad hands his way through office. If I am fortunate enough to win office in this district it will send a clear message to both parties and every other rep – people are fed up with excuses. It is time to put Charlotte to work. That is my mission. 

4. Where the candidates stand:

While my opponent has claimed to be a business professional, who stands up for economic development, his record speaks otherwise. You can be a cheerleader for good ideas (generated by others) or you can get your hands dirty and figure out real solutions by enticing and establishing NEW jobs to locate here, and support those companies willing to invest in our community.

I want the citizens, and especially the voters of the African-American and lower income communities here, to know what Senator Ford has accomplished for you – nothing. And he had a stellar opportunity to change the course of Charlotte’s history two years ago.

Unknown to most Charlotteans, the Toyota Corporation, one of the world’s leading auto manufacturers, had chosen Charlotte as a finalist for locating their North American headquarters. It was between us, Atlanta and Texas. Texas won the bid. 

We could have had several thousand new jobs at entry-level to production to corporate executive posts created here on the west side of Charlotte. And with a shining new headquarters came the probable creation of a manufacturing plant in the not-too-distant future here in North Carolina, given our rail lines, roadways and other beneficial features. With that would come job training and creation like never before seen in this region. An auto plant can lift entire regions from poverty to prosperity. The benefits from automotive production would have been staggering.

I worked in marketing for syndicated automotive distribution in the early 1980s. I can tell you that for every direct job the manufacturer would have created, seven more jobs in the community would have been created; from entrepreneurial ventures to other small businesses. There is a huge ripple effect which would benefit everyone. That opportunity would have been the anchor needed to revitalize the entire Beattie’s Ford Road corridor Charlotte so desperately needs. Did our current sitting Senator tour the Toyota executives? Create a presentation of his own, develop a plan or write them? Call or email them? Did he use his position to benefit our state? Did he even know about the venture until it was too late? No. He was busy online playing fantasy basketball and posting his notes on social media to be bothered with the opportunity. 

We could have seen tens of millions of dollars in direct property and other taxes during the construction/installation of the company headquarters. We could have benefitted from several hundred million dollars in taxes from products, especially the income from manufacturing right here in our region. Instead, our Senator did nothing, said nothing, and produced zero. 

Some may say, well it wasn’t his job. I disagree. Yes it is his job. As Senator, my job is whatever is needed by our district to help this area and state succeed. If you make the decision to serve, then do so, serve the community by helping it however possible. Making legislative decisions is the barest responsibility of the position. Being outraged at injustice is a band-aid. It accomplishes nothing.

It is up to our state representatives to take the initiative to find, cultivate and build relationships to attract, retain and grow business in our state. We miss out on billions of dollars of income because those who say they support growth, only support it ideologically. They have no clue how to actually target and attract companies. I do. I will make it my first task. I have attempted in the private sector to do this but found our state’s tax policies and poorer education hold us back. THAT is why I am running to be your Senator.

My primary job as Senator will be to gather our best community resources and determine who to target for re-location or business development here in OUR district. All I ask to do this task is for voters to open their eyes and expect results of their representatives. 

My second major priority must be education. Our current system is terribly flawed. I love teachers. The job they attempt to do is amazing while their hands are tied, earning low pay. I have taught at co-op for years in the areas of Language Arts, Graphics, HTML and other courses. I have also taught within the scouting program helping develop leadership skills among youth through Eagle coursework. I know how to lesson plan, and develop talent. I know the problems and challenges. 

For all the screaming my opponent did about needing to raise teacher pay he was never a part of that chorus before taking office, while Democrats controlled the entire budget for over 135 years. It took a Republican Governor, legislature and resolve to generate over one BILLION dollars in pay raises these past sessions. I intend to continue that drive forward until teaching in North Carolina becomes extremely attractive nationwide. We can begin to find the money by removing many layers of unneeded bureaucracy which hamstrings teachers in the classroom. Administrators should not be earning huge salaries while those who do the actual work with students are ignored.

You GET quality in education by supporting educators, not the “bureaucractic system”. No bureaucracy ever produced talented, accomplished students. Only the teacher/student interaction did that, and successfully for many years, in many locations without behemoth districts. Some of the best performing schools are the ones untethered from unyielding, uncreative, bureaucratic control. Large districts do not work. Break them up. Clearly, the path we have followed has produced lower scores and fewer results regardless of cash influx. It is time to rethink HOW education is delivered in North Carolina so all our schools function at their peak and teachers feel valued.

Third, but not finally, I want to address infrastructure as it is the basis by which continued growth is even possible. The I-77 toll project is a trap to extract taxes in a new way while still not solving the congestion problem. Those tolls will never disappear. This will penalize all growth north of Charlotte, and destroy the businesses attempting to grow in that region. Instead of misusing our highway funds for funneling work to overseas contractors we should cancel the contract and focus on getting the project done through cooperative effort in-state. We know we can do this if we have the leadership and resolve. I know this may differ from some entrenched personalities involved in the toll project but I feel the entire process has been corrupted. It is my understanding that the company, CINTRA, may have charges against it in Spain which it did not reveal during the negotiation process. That alone would warrant contract cancellation without remuneration or penalty. It would be a great story if the journalists here could pursue it and find out more about CINTRA.

For other projects, this state must focus on fixing its roadways and providing future growth avenues in transportation facilities, and more.

 5. About the candidate:

In 2012, I decided that I could not watch our state flounder any longer. We have raised our family here and look forward to participating in all that North Carolina has to offer as we age. This state is incredible. We have everything from the mountains to the shore and every type of weather. Our basic infrastructure is sound and can be improved. It seems the only thing we are lacking in pursuing a better life for all citizens is resolve.

I have that resolve. When I lost the election in 2012 I had naysayers tell me, before and after, that you can never win. That is exactly the wrong attitude towards life in general. Anything can and does happen. My opponent outspent me 30 or 40 to one yet I managed, in a district 85% out of my favor to get that first 15% of the vote. Possibly a little more. Now it was time to spread out and reach out to those who would not agree with everything I propose. 

In 2014 I increased my percentage to nearly 20%. Now I am making inroads into my opponent’s base. It is a slow process but the more people I speak with on the west side, the more they are convinced that our current Senator has no interest in doing the job effectively. He has the title, the authority and shows up to vote, but he has failed to move any legislation benefitting this region, and worse, he ignored incredible opportunities. This is quite possibly because he only understands the periphery of the job requirements. He has shown no interest in actually improving our lives. I am his constituent too, and although I offered to work with him on ideas to help our area he has never responded. He did block me from his Twitter account when he realized I was reading his broadcasts and responding. He also refuses to debate me, and in 2014 he cowardly skipped the one and only televised debate. How childish is that and how does that benefit our district? I am challenging him to debate me leading up to this election, if he wins the primary. Given his newest challengers, he may not.

My goal this election is to gain enough votes to reach the 51% mark. To accomplish that task I will need to have many more people understand my positions, and why they are correct for this area. That my drive, and eager attitude are what is needed to succeed. What those who question our current lack of leadership must understand, most importantly, about my being elected is this – once elected I MUST produce results or I have no chance of ever maintaining the position. I am outvoted automatically. So I am asking you to consider this as my job application.

Vote Richard Rivette. Give this outsider from the other party a chance to prove himself to you, and together we can get Charlotte to work. 




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