Rep. Mike Clampitt, R-Swain, has the unique distinction of running against the same opponent for five elections in a row. A competitive district in the western mountains of Swain, Jackson and Haywood counties meant that Clampitt and Democratic Rep. Joe Sam Queen traded off in the House seat several times. Redistricting means the streak will end and he’ll have a different opponent.
He’s currently chairing the House Committee on Federal Relations and American Indian Affairs (Cherokee is part of his district). And as a former firefighter, he often works on legislation that helps first responders, such as legislation last year to improve retirement benefits.
What are the current and past jobs you’ve held outside of politics? I careered in the fire service for 31 years. I began my career as a volunteer in Forsyth County. Then, after obtaining my degree in fire science, worked for the Charlotte Fire Department as fire captain. At the same time I worked with Central Piedmont Community College as director of fire/rescue training for 14 years.
What lessons from those roles have you applied to your elected position? Practicable applications to real-life experiences dealing with public safety: From emergency medical care as an EMT-D, to business fire inspections and code enforcement, home fire safety education, school fire safety classes and certification training for firefighters.
If you could enact a single piece of legislation into law today, what would it be? The importance of pro-life.
Where do you most enjoy taking an out-of-town visitor in your district? The historical locations, the Road to Nowhere, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Swain County Heritage Museum in my home county of Swain.
What is your favorite hobby outside of work? Fixing stuff, anything mechanical.
Who do you most admire, and why? My Mom, a single mother raising a child in poverty southern Appalachia in the 1960s
What’s the best advice you’ve received about how to get legislation passed? Be factual, be flexible, be persistent.