by Alex Granados
Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union) is the education legislator. It’s an odd moniker considering he only moved to the state in 2005, has no education background and didn’t even start out focused on the subject.
An almost 8-year veteran of the Air Force, Horn made his living as a food broker, retiring in 2002 from his business which he says was the largest food broker in the country at the time. When he retired, he worked with big names such as General Mills, Butterball and ConAgra.
His office in the Legislative Office Building is festooned with armed forces memorabilia, including pictures, medals and even a military book with the title “Assault on the Liberty,” a book describing the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, which took place while he was in the Air Force. He says he lost friends in that assault.
He’s also a fan of Winston Churchill, and the British prime minister’s name came up numerous times during our conversation.
So it’s not surprising that his take on education in North Carolina is imbued with lessons learned from the military.
“You lead from in front. You command from the rear,” he said of education. “It’s the teachers who are the leaders. They’re out in front.”
But none of that explains how he came to be known for education. That story takes a more twisted route.
He moved to North Carolina, the father of four and grandfather of seven. He had no political aspirations.
“I moved here to be a full-time grandpa,” he said.
But he still needed to fill his time between visits with his offspring’s offspring. He tried golf, but admits he wasn’t very good. He had always been active in the community, so he started volunteering in schools. But it wasn’t until the House seat in his district came open that others started clamoring for him to run for office. He was reluctant.
“Some friends of mine called and said, ‘You know you should run for a seat in the House,’” he said. “I said ‘I have a seat in the house. My house.’”
You can’t just talk. You have to act.
But he mentioned it to his grandchildren, and it was they who ultimately decided his course. They reminded him that he always told them that you can’t just talk. You have to act.
“I like to think that I set an example for my family and my community,” he said. “So my grandkids called my bluff.”
He joined the General Assembly in 2011. The first issue he became interested in was drugs. First artificial drugs — synthetic heroin and marijuana — which he was told were major problems in North Carolina. And then he started looking into the methamphetamine problem in the state.
“It was exciting,” he said. “I thought I could help save lives.”
But that issue led him directly to the youngest population in our state: the students who are often most affected by issues related to drugs.
He realized education is the number one, two and three top issue in his county, and in his second term in 2013-14, he co-chaired the education appropriations committee. He has been focused on education ever since.
– See more at: EdNC: Rep. Craig Horn, the education legislator