I guess there is something of an unwritten rule that elected officials should not endorse a candidate other than the incumbent of their own political party. Well, for those of you that truly know me, I follow my head and my heart, and I try to do the right thing. I have chosen to endorse John (Doug) Gallina instead of incumbent Rep. Jeff McNeely in the March 5 Republican primary for the 84th N.C. House District seat.


I have been asked by many to explain my decision. Mr. McNeely even called and asked me why, and he wanted to know what he had done so wrong for me not to support him. Was it simply just my friendship with Mr. Gallina or our shared military service? My decision was based on many factors. First, I believe that a person’s character is the backbone of their life and serves as a moral compass to guide them through the world and the sometimes difficult and challenging situations they encounter and decisions they make. Second, I believe those who are elected should keep all of their constituents at the center of their thoughts, words and deeds. I realize that you cannot please everyone, but getting constituent input is paramount to making an informed decision to best serve the greater good of our community.

John Gallina is a problem solver. He’s always looking to make life better for himself and those in his sphere of influence and areas of service. He co-founded Purple Heart Homes, a nationwide nonprofit that provides unavailable services and resources to military veterans and their families.

During this campaign, Mr. McNeely has touted the importance of experience in this race. This makes me wonder where Mr. McNeely’s passion for experience was when he had the opportunity, as a member of the Iredell County GOP Executive Committee, but failed to support the appointment of Deputy Register of Deeds Joyce Bess, who had 23 years of experience, to serve as register of deeds after Ron Wyatt resigned. Where was Mr. McNeely’s character and desire to serve Iredell County residents when he voted to change state laws affecting county building inspections and environmental health inspections without talking to county staff in those areas to learn about the impact of those changes? He also voted on legislation to change the process for selecting members of our local election board. As a result of this legislation, these board members are now appointed by members of the N.C. House and Senate instead of locally. Mr. McNeely did not bother to reach out to our elections director or current elections board members for their input. Mr. McNeely also voted to approve legislation that reduced the number of credits needed for high school graduation. Again, he did not seek the input or recommendation of the Iredell-Statesville Schools superintendent or his staff. Additionally, in response to a question on his 2022 NC Family Voter Guide Questionnaire about whether sports betting should be legal in North Carolina, Mr. McNeely responded “No.” Yet Mr. McNeely co-sponsored HB 347 / SL 2023-42 Sports Wagering / Horse Racing Wagering.

When you add in Mr. McNeely’s antics on the N.C. House floor when he questioned whether a respected House colleague and retired Superior Court judge had been admitted to Harvard simply because he was a minority or an athlete, it raises even more questions about Mr. McNeely’s character. You can watch Mr. McNeely’s comments HERE.

Now, ironically, during this election, the issue that John Gallina was once known by another name has somehow become a talking point. So, for those who have chosen to spread that information, let’s set the record straight: John Gallina was adopted at age 7, and has been legally named John Douglas Gallina ever since then. He has passed several FBI Security Clearance investigations as part of his military service. Raising this issue, in my opinion, displays a true lack of character. In my opinion, one who does not seek the truth, but instead seeks to distort the facts about a man of honor, dignity and courage diminishes himself. John Gallina is a true man of character. Shame on those of you who have chosen to spread this irrelevant and misleading information about him.

During my 20 years of service as the Iredell County Veterans Officer, not once did Mr. McNeely, Commissioner McNeely or Rep. McNeely ever seek to offer any service or assistance or ask my department what could he do to help with veteran issues. But after Purple Heart Homes, under the leadership of John Gallina, brought “Military Makeover” to Statesville to honor a veteran and the cameras were rolling, Mr. McNeely was suddenly front and center.

Is this what you want, need or expect from our elected officials?

I expect better, and I expect more, but most of all I expect a leader to be honorable, honest and sincere.

To quote Donald McGannon: “Leadership is an action, not a position.”

Brad J. Stroud Sr. is a U.S. Army retiree and current Iredell County commissioner.

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