Panelists Archive

  Tom Campbell
North Carolina Hall of Fame broadcaster Tom Campbell is the creator, executive producer, and moderator of NC SPIN. Tom comes from a rich family tradition of public involvement in North Carolina. His family founded Campbell University as well as WNCT-TV, the first television station in eastern North Carolina. Tom worked in his family’s broadcast business for over 24 years, writing and delivering daily radio editorials.NC SPIN gives Tom the opportunity to involve two of his passions, broadcasting and politics. Prior to starting NC SPIN Campbell was the Assistant Treasurer for the State of North Carolina, licensee of WRAZ-TV “FOX50″ in the Raleigh-Durham market, and co-founder of The Family Business Institute, a consulting firm for family and closely held companies. His My SPIN editorials have appeared in newspapers across the state and he is often a guest of talk radio stations.Of his brainchild NC SPIN, Campbell says, ” You can’t expect people to make good decisions at the ballot box, the business place, or at the store if they aren’t properly informed. Our mission is to present a balance, in-depth debate on issues of importance to North Carolina. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with our panel. We just want you to be informed so that you can form your own opinions.”Tom and his Methodist minister wife, Lib, have a son and daughter and four grandchildren.
  Gene Arnold
Born in Nash County, Gene Arnold graduated from Rocky Mount Senior High School and later from UNC-Wilmington. From 1993-2002 Gene was a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives. During Gene’s Political activities he was the co-chair of the Finance Committee as well as Senior Chair of Education Appropriations Committee and authored ABC Education Legislation.Gene’s professional career entailed owning The Dairy Bar, as well as being an Executive with Hardee’s Food Systems. Gene has three children and 2 grandchildren. He and his wife Lynne are members of St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Rocky Mount.
 Jeanne Bonds
Jeanne Milliken Bonds received a BA in Economics and an MPA from the University of NC Chapel Hill. She has proven ability to establish strategic direction and deliver successful results in a changing environment. Jeanne has more than 20 years of experience, 11 as a senior executive. She started her career as a registered federal lobbyist in 1985 and was featured on the front page of USA Today in 1986 (Tax Reform Act of 1986). Jeanne has significant leadership in financial, crisis and reputation issue management and has created successful marketing, strategic and business continuity plans.In 1997, she was chosen to represent NC as a Henry Toll Fellow with the Council of State Governments. Jeanne was Mayor Pro Tem of Knightdale, NC and Deputy Director of the NC Courts.She is certified in emergency communications, media relations in multiple markets, and strategic messaging. Jeanne was elected to local office, served for nine years, including Mayor Pro Tem and Mayor. She was elected to the Board of the NC League of Municipalities and has been a leader in numerous community organizations.
  Brad Crone
Brad Crone is president of Campaign Connections, a Raleigh-based political/public affairs consulting firm. Crone founded the firm in 1991 after serving as publisher of The Thomasville Times and the Clayton Star. In politics, Crone worked with D. M. “Lauch” Faircloth when he ran for Governor as a Democrat in 1984 and served as a special assistant to N. C. Commissioner of Agriculture Jim Graham.Crone has consulted in more than 100 North Carolina elections since 1992. He is a member of the American Association of Political Consultants and serves as an instructor at the National Campaign Training Seminar sponsored by Congressional Quarterly and Campaigns & Elections magazine. Brad writes a weekly newspaper column and voices a weekly radio commentary.He is a former member of Rotary, former Thomasville bank director for BB & T, and volunteers for Deaf-Blind services of North Carolina and North Carolina 4-H.
  Rufus Edmisten
Born in Boone, Rufus has a lengthy record of public service. He was educated at UNC Chapel Hill, attaining his law degree. From 1964-74 he was aide and chief counsel to Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr., serving as deputy chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee.From 1974-84 Rufus was Attorney General of North Carolina and became the Democratic nominee for Governor in 1984. From 1989-96 he was Secretary of State and remains active in several national organizations relating to his state service.Rufus and wife Linda are involved in several civic endeavors. Rufus is the founder of the Extra Special Super Kids Scholarship Program and holds an annual fundraiser for the kids. He is a partner in the law firm Edmisten and Webb.
  Peg O’Connell
Peg O’Connell has over 25 years of experience in governmental, regulatory, and public affairs, healthcare, media and grassroots advocacy at the state and federal levels. Her knowledge of the legislative and healthcare processes combined with her management skills in grassroots organizing and media advocacy provide Fuquay Solutions clients with a unique combination of expertise in healthcare, media relations, legislative knowledge, and government relations.An attorney by profession, Peg has spent most of the past 25 years working in government affairs and communications, focusing on healthcare policy, insurance and public health advocacy. Prior to joining Fuquay Solutions in 2009, she served as the manager of external affairs for the National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.Peg O’Connell graduated magna cum laude from Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio, earning a BA in history and political science, and received her law degree from the Ohio State University College of Law. She holds the designation of Group Health Associate from the Health Insurance Association of America. As an undergraduate, she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, Omicron Delta Kappa and a variety of other academic honor societies.
  Chris Fitzsimon
Chris Fitzsimon is the Director of NC Policy Watch, a project of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation in Raleigh. Fitzsimon writes the daily Fitzsimon File, delivers a daily radio commentary that is broadcast statewide on the North Carolina News Network, and hosts News and Views, a weekly radio news magazine that also airs on the network stations.Prior to NC Policy Watch, Fitzsimon served as the spokesman of the Campaign to Protect America’s Lands, a national, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. The Campaign works on a wide variety issues affecting public lands and the Department of the Interior and publishes a newsletter, issues policy reports and works with local groups across the country.Before heading to Washington, Fitzsimon was the Founder and for nine years the Executive Director of the Common Sense Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina. Common Sense is a nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy foundation whose mission is to expand the policy debate in North Carolina to include the views and voices of those traditionally locked out of that debate.He is also a frequent speaker across North Carolina on government and politics. Fitzsimon has been quoted in scores of national publications including the New York Times, USA Today, the Christian Science Monitor, the Nation, and Columbia Journalism Review.Fitzsimon appears weekly on N.C. Spin, a North Carolina television news talk show aired on stations across the state.Chris was an award-winning television news reporter for nine years, including four years at North Carolina Public Television and three years at WRAL-TV in Raleigh, where he covered government and politics. In 1991 he left WRAL to become Special Assistant for Policy and Communications for House Speaker Dan Blue. He left Speaker Blue in the spring of 1994 and founded the Common Sense Foundation later that summer. Fitzsimon, who lives in Raleigh, has a B.A. in Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill.
  Becki Gray
Becki Gray is the Vice President for Outreach at the John Locke Foundation. She has experience in the legal profession, as a former Director of Communications for the House Minority Leader of the North Carolina House of Representatives and as a lobbyist.She has appeared on the television shows Political Connections and NCSpin, as a guest on “Take a Stand” radio show in Asheville and as a frequent guest on Carolina Journal Radio. She writes a monthly column for Carolina Journal and her op-eds have been published in newspapers across the state. She frequently speaks to civic and political groups about public policy and legislative issues.She majored in Art at Queens College in Charlotte and also holds a Paralegal Certificate from Meredith College. She has done graduate work at UNC-Charlotte and UNC-Greensboro.She is a member of the first class of the E.A. Morris Fellowship for Emerging Leaders, a statewide leadership program.
  Henry Hinton
Henry Hinton, a 1975 East Carolina University graduate, is president and founder of Hinton Media Group in Greenville. His 30 year career includes management in radio and television in the Greenville, Raleigh and Chapel Hill markets. He has also worked in sports broadcasting including the Tar Heel Sports Network at UNC-Chapel Hill and the Pirate Sports Network at ECU.Hinton Media operates WNCT-AM Talk 1070 and Cable 7 Television in eastern NC. Hinton has long been the host of a popular morning radio and cable TV program on those stations, Talk of the Town. Hinton is also the managing partner of Inner Banks Media which owns four FM properties east of I-95 operating as Thunder Country 96.3 & 103.7 and the New Hot FM 94.1 & 94.3.Hinton is formerly the Chairman of the Greenville-Pitt Chamber of Commerce. He is also the former President of the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters and currently serves on that board of directors. He also served on the board of directors for the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research through 2006.Hinton was named Greenville’s Small Business Leader of the Year for 2002. He has received the Distinguished Service Award from both East Carolina University and the NC Association of Broadcasters.
  John Hood
President and Chairman of the John Locke Foundation. He oversees the research, publications, and administration of JLF, a North Carolina think tank that issues policy studies, hosts dozens of events each year, produces radio and TV programs, and publishes Carolina Journal, a monthly newspaper with a readership of 160,000 North Carolinians. In addition to his duties at JLF, Hood is a syndicated columnist on state politics and public policy for the High Point Enterprise, the Gaston Gazette, and newspapers in more than 40 other North Carolina communities. He is a regular radio commentator and a weekly panelist on “N.C. Spin,” a discussion program on state issues that is broadcast on 14 television stations across North Carolina, including stations in Charlotte, Raleigh, Winston-Salem, Greenville, Wilmington, New Bern, Boone, and Asheville. Hood also hosts “Carolina Journal Radio,” an hour-long newsmagazine that appears on 20 commercial stations each weekend.His latest book is Selling the Dream: Why Advertising is Good Business (Praeger, 2005). He is also the author of Investor Politics: The New Force That Will Transform American Business, Government, and Politics in the 21st Century (Templeton Foundation Press, 2001). “John Hood has produced a timely and informative account of…the most significant demographic shift of this century — the rise of a shareholder democracy in America,” said former Congressman Jack Kemp about Investor Politics. “Anyone who is interested in how this demographic shift will shape American politics in the 21st century should read this book.”From October 1994 to September 1995, Hood split his time between Raleigh and Washington, D.C. as a Bradley Visiting Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, the nation’s premier conservative think tank. At Heritage, he researched and wrote a book entitled The Heroic Enterprise: Business and the Common Good (The Free Press, 1996).Hood writes and comments frequently on politics, education, health care, regulation, and other issues for national media organizations. His articles have appeared both in magazines — such as Readers’ Digest, The New Republic, National Review, Policy Review, Military History, and Reason — and in newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and The Orange County Register. He’s been interviewed by, among other news media, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, CNN, CNBC, NBC Nightly News, and the Fox News Channel.Hood is a graduate of the School of Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he founded a student magazine called The Carolina Critic in the mid-1980s that ultimately grew to encompass five campus editions (at UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State, UNC-Greensboro, UNC-Charlotte, and Wake Forest University). He is a native of Charlotte and currently resides in Southern Wake County.
  Joe Mavretic
Born in Currituck County, Joe graduated from New Bern High School, then UNC Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He earned a Masters at George Washington and was a distinguished graduate of the Naval War College. He was a Marine fighter pilot, retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.Joe returned to North Carolina and was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 1980. Serving a total of 15 years, Joe became nationally known when he successfully led an effort to oust long-time House Speaker Liston Ramsey. Joe served as Speaker from 1989-90.The father of two sons, Mitchell and Michael, Joe and wife Laura attend Edenton Street Methodist Church. Joe is currently writing a book about understanding North Carolina.
  Dan Blue, III
Daniel T. Blue, III represents individuals and businesses in civil litigation, transactions and general advisory.  Prior to joining Blue Stephens & Fellers, Dan served as Executive Director of the Pharmaceutical Institute, leading provider of specialized training to pharmaceutical and biotechnology professionals.Prior to launching the Pharmaceutical Institute, Dan worked as an investment banker with Bear, Stearns & Co. in New York where he served healthcare clients, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, diagnostic and service companies, providing financing, advisory and investment services.Dan graduated from the Duke University School of Law and the Duke University Fuqua School of Business in May 2001, with degrees in law and business and a focus on corporate finance and entrepreneurship.  He earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Duke University in 1995, where he studied biomedical engineering with a minor in public policy studies.Dan lives in downtown Raleigh with his wife Traci (a mental health therapist in the Wake County Public Schools), their daughter Kennedy (an energetic toddler), and their dog Bailey (a fiesty Scottish Terrier).

Dan serves on the boards of the Salvation Army and DHIC, Inc. is Chairman of the Wake County Democratic Party.

  Cash Michaels
Cash Michaels is the award-winning editor, chief reporter, photographer and columnist for The Carolinian newspaper, the twice-weekly African-American publication covering Raleigh and the Triangle for more than 65 years. Michaels is also a staff writer and award-winning columnist for the Wilmington Journalnewspaper in Wilmington, NC. From 1999 to 2007, Michaels co-hosted NBC 17 News “At Issue” with Donna Martinez and Verna Collins. He has also been an on-air personality, producer and director on several radio stations in Raleigh and Durham. Michaels is happily married to his wife of six years and he has two daughters.
  Connie Wilson
Connie has thirteen years as a legislator and twenty years in banking providing a strong political and business base. Over the years she has excelled at pulling together diverse coalitions, crossing party lines to pass controversial and technical legislation. Connie has worked closely with many executive branch leaders and has a proven track record of resolving issues administratively when possible.
  Dennis Wicker
Former Lieutenant Governor Dennis Wicker is a partner in Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough’s Raleigh office.From 1993-2001, he served two four-year terms as North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor. During his term of office he became the first statewide elected official to chair the State Board of Community Colleges, which sets policy for the state’s 58-campus system. He was also a member of the State Board of Education and the State Board of Economic Development.He was a member of the N.C. House of Representatives for 12 years prior to becoming Lieutenant Governor

He earned his Juris Doctor in 1978 from Wake Forest University School of Law. He earned a Bachelor of Arts, with honors, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.