By M.H. Cavanaugh
Christian Action League
November 26, 2015
RALEIGH – This week, Rep. Roger West (R-Cherokee), announced that he would not seek re-election in 2016.
West represents the four most western counties in North Carolina, Cherokee, Graham, Clay and Macon Counties. Serving since 1999, West has had a long tenure of service in the House.
According to the Raleigh News and Observer, West says he’s just too old to continue making the long, arduous trip of more than 350 miles from his home in Marble, N.C. to Raleigh each week. West says that he will be 68 years-old when his term ends and its time to step aside.
West, who is a plain-spoken man with a strong mountain accent, has served as Vice-Chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee and chaired Appropriations for Agriculture and Natural and Economic Resources, as well as the Wildlife Resources Committee. He has also served as a member of other committees such as Alcoholic Beverage Control, Agriculture, Environment, and Homeland Security, Military, and Veterans Affairs.
West has also become somewhat renowned for his quest to preserve the New Year’s Eve Possum Drop in Clay County. He successfully ran legislation in the House this year that exempted opossums from state wildlife laws from December 29 to January 2 of each year.
Animal rights groups had sued over the Possum Drop, arguing that lowering an opossum in a cage before a cheering crowd causes too much distress for the animal, and is, therefore, abusive.
Perhaps West’s most substantive work has been his advocacy on behalf of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. He has sponsored legislation to give the tribe greater autonomy.
Bills authored by West gave the Cherokee exclusive authority for levying taxes within their jurisdiction, exempting property located on tribal lands from property taxes, allowing them to establish law enforcement agencies, and granting them their own Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
“When I think of Roger West, my mind goes immediately to an image of him at his office desk and chewing on an unlit cigar,” said Dr. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
“Rep. West has been supportive of the Christian Action League’s core values issues. We’ve not always agreed, however, on matters about ABC and gambling expansion of the Cherokee casino. But I am quite confident North Carolina is better for his service in the General Assembly. I consider him a friend, and we pray for God’s richest blessings on him and his family,” said Dr. Creech.
West will make the seventeenth state lawmaker who has said in recent weeks he or she will leave their seat and not return to their chamber after 2016.
This does not include Rep. Rick Glazier, a Democrat representing Cumberland County, who left his seat at the end of the last session to accept a position with the NC Justice Center.