Rep. Reece Pyrtle, R-Rockingham, is one of the House’s newest members, appointed in August 2021 following the death of Rep. Jerry Carter, R-Rockingham. He’s hit the ground running, working on a range of criminal justice and law enforcement bills during this year’s short session.
What are the current and past jobs you’ve held outside of politics? I joined the Eden Police Department in May 1990 and I held a variety of positions over the years until 2009, when I was appointed chief of police for the City of Eden. I retired as the chief in January 2018. Aside from my career in law enforcement, I was elected as a commissioner for Rockingham County on Nov. 8, 2016, where I served up until the untimely passing of state Rep. Jerry Carter.
What lessons from those roles have you applied to your elected position? Throughout my career in law enforcement and in my time as a county commissioner, I got to interact with most everyone in our community, oftentimes when they were at a low point in their lives. This experience has shaped my perspective and given me a passion to improve our community and the lives of others. I take this with me and keep the people of Rockingham County at the forefront of my mind every day that I serve in Raleigh.
If you could enact a single piece of legislation into law today, what would it be? I would like to see legislation passed to increase the penalty for assaulting a law enforcement officer by use of a firearm. We recently had six officers shot, two fatally wounded, within a week. It is imperative that the state enforce strong penalties to deter this lawlessness against those who protect and serve.
Where do you most enjoy taking an out-of-town visitor in your district? I would take visitors to one of a number of public access points to Rockingham County’s four rivers — the Dan, the Haw, the Mayo and the Smith — which provide more than 60 miles of flowing water. Our rivers, which are part of our Blueway Trail System, provide recreational canoeing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding or tubing for all skill levels. You can also spend time exploring our two riverside state parks, the Haw River State Park and the Mayo River State Park.
What is your favorite hobby outside of work? When not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and playing golf.
Who do you most admire, and why? My father, Armor Reece Pyrtle, who passed away in 2004. He was a WWII veteran and a member of the “greatest generation”. He raised me to work hard, respect my elders, and treat people as I would like to be treated. There isn't a day that goes by where I don't benefit from his timeless wisdom and the example of character that he set for me.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about how to get legislation passed? I was advised early in my term to heed the counsel of my conscience, my constituents, and my caucus – in that order.