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Monday, October 29, 2012

10 questions with Cliff Moone - Candidate NC 96th District House Seat

Cliff Moone is a candidate for the North Carolina 96th District House Seat. Cliff is one of the original founding members of the Citizen's for Equity in Government and he is one of the original eight people who met at the coffee shop in Viewmont with the goal  of reaching across political and cultural lines to form an alliance to work towards making local government more responsive towards all of Hickory's Citizens. He is the leading Diplomatic member of the CEG. I first became aware of Cliff at a Hickory City Council meeting when he attended a Hickory City Council meeting in 2010 and participated in a Proclamation celebrating the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  Cliff continues to play a vital role in moving forward with the CEG's concerns, issues, and message for the interest of all of Hickory's citizenry and the people of the Hickory metro. In the beginning of the Hickory Hound I attempted to get local leaders to participate in this 10 Questions series so that we could get to know them better, but I met resistance, because most people are reticent to go on the record about issues in a constructive and thorough manner. I believe that they deem it risky. These questions are the same for everyone who participates in this series and there is no critique of the answers. I am very grateful to Mr. Moone for participating in this series. I believe that it helps us to get to know local leadership better. Anyone who wants to participate is free to do so. Please feel free to contact me at

1) Can you give us some background and a history of yourself? (Where were you born? What is your educational background? Why did you come to or stay in Hickory? Tell us about your professional accomplishments?   I was born in 1949 and grew up in Durham, NC, attending Charles E. Jordan HS where I was Senior Class President and President of my HS Band. I also ran track in HS was in the National Honor Society, the Student Council and Key Club. After HS, I attended UNC-CH from 1967-1971, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Education. In 1975, I earned a Masters in Education Administration, also from UNC. In 1972 I married Gaye Sawyer of Lenoir, my wife of 40 years. We have 3 grown children, David, Amy, and Sarah. After the birth of our son in 1976, I left teaching for awhile to work as an insurance agent and small businessman. I returned to teaching in 1980 after we moved to Lenoir due to my wife’s father’s failing health. I directed Hibriten High School’s In-School-Suspension Program for 3 years. 

In 1983, I responded to the call to the Christian ministry and entered seminary. I graduated from Southeastern Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1986 with a M.Div. After pastoring for 2 years in Virginia, I accepted a call to Church of the Master UCC in Hickory in 1988. I pastored there for 7 years, then decided to plant a non-denominational church here in 1995. In 2003, we merged that church New Gate Covenant with Shekinah Glory Fellowship, led by Pastor Kathy Johnson. This was, I believe, the first merger between a predominately Caucasian and predominately African-American church in Hickory. I retired from the pastoral ministry in 2005.

Prior to this, from 1996-2001, I served as the first Headmaster at Hickory Christian Academy. From 2001-2007, I also taught as an adjunct instructor in English and religion at CVCC. From 2005-2010, I was employed as the Director of Education for Sylvan Learning Center here in Hickory. After retiring in 2010, I have returned to teach part-time again at CVCC.

Hickory and Catawba County have now been our home for almost 25 years. After retiring, I decided to renew my involvement in politics and civic affairs from before entering the ministry out of a desire to give back to this community which has blessed me and my family in so many ways.

2) Tell us about the accomplishments you are proudest of achieving in your life?   What’s the most exciting thing you saw/did/experienced/were a part of in your personal life? In your professional life?   Of my accomplishments, certainly being blessed to serve as a Christian pastor and lead a sizeable number of people to faith in Christ over the years stands out the most. My marriage and raising our children are also accomplishments that are significant. Additionally, getting to use my school administration credentials and to serve almost 5 years at Hickory Christian Academy during its formative years was especially gratifying. In politics, I am proud to have served as the Chair of two County Young Democrats Clubs in my younger years and particularly to be elected as the 10th Congressional District Democratic Chair in 2011. Running for the NC House has been one of the most exciting and interesting things I have ever done. I have enjoyed every minute of being involved in the campaign, meeting so many fantastic people, and discussing how we can improve the quality of life here in Catawba County for all our citizens.

3) If I were to ask people that know you to describe you what would they say?  That I am an energetic, passionate and sincere person who enjoys collaborating with as well as leading people to solve problems and accomplish mutual goals in the groups and organizations with which I have been involved. I am very loyal, a hard worker, who loves people, learning, and talking. I am a very verbal individual, sometimes too wordy and detail oriented, but I also tend to see the larger picture and am a good listener/learner. My biggest fault in leadership roles is sometimes getting too far out in front of those I am attempting to lead.

4) How much bearing do the opinions of the people around you have on your decisions?  I am old enough(63) and comfortable enough in “my own skin” at this point in my life that I almost always seek the advice of others in making important decisions, but I do not think that I allow those opinions or views influence me unduly, particularly where a principle is at stake. I have always tended to be somewhat too trusting of other people, although I think as I have grown older, I have become more discerning in this regard.

5) Can you tell us of a professional mistake that you have made that may have had an impact on who you are today? In 2001, at HCA, the school board changed personnel and leadership. I believe I misread the style and operating philosophy of the chair of that board. This ultimately led to a series of misunderstandings and to my “clinging” stubbornly to what I then viewed as “principled” positions. While this is not the whole story, my responses to this situation were unproductive and eventually led to my termination at HCA. I actually believe that my responses, in this and several other employer-employee situations over my early career, were conditioned from my elementary school years and a willingness to rarely but definitely” stand up to those in authority” if I believed their actions were either wrong or unjust to others. I believe I have learned over the years to better judge the difference between a principled stand and a stubborn recalcitrance. Today, I know that in most of these situations, I would have been better served by not creating a “win-lose” scenario and by seeking real reconciliation and understanding with those with whom I was in conflict at the time.

6) If you were given enough money to tackle one project (think nearly unlimited) that you felt was important to the Hickory Area, what would that issue be?   Hickory and Catawba County are strategically located between Charlotte, Winston Salem Asheville and Boone. Hickory is the last city of some size on I-40 before Asheville, and with the expansions of Hwy 16 and 321, within less than 45 minutes to Charlotte. We need to find ways to utilize this strategic location to develop even greater cooperative and collaborative business, educational, and cultural relationships in this greater Charlotte metropolitan area. With the right investments in education and emerging technologies, as well as transportation corridors and means of transportation, this area is well situated to link vital industries, educational opportunities, and entrepreneurial enterprises in a way that will encourage managed growth while maintaining a small-city quality of life. This could potentially enable us to quench the “youth drain” from our area while allowing us to continue development as a “non-mountain,” more moderate climate retirement haven.

7) Let’s say there is no money available for the foreseeable future. What one project (priority) would you push as part of your agenda that can be done with little or no money? As a candidate for the legislature, the first thing that comes to mind is my proposal that the Legislature, with input from all State agencies and departments, put true “sunset” provisions in place for all governmental regulations. This would require an ongoing evaluations and necessitate that every regulation be “justified” on a recurring basis. This will hopefully avoid politicizing deregulation, re-regulation, or the establishment of new regulations and put in place standards and time-frames by which regulatory effectiveness can be appropriately assessed. I am aware there is some cost associated with implementing this proposal, but everything else I can think of will probably cost more.

8) What is your overall philosophy of the development of this area? Where would you like to see us in 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?  I think I answered this question in number 6. That is probably a 10 year and 20 year vision.

9) If you could define your Personal Legacy what would you like it to be? What would you like to be remembered for? To be remembered as a person who loved God and his neighbor, who lived a life of integrity, with passion and commitment to making the world and the lives of others better because I was here. That I was loyal and trustworthy to both my family and my friends; that I was respected by those who disagreed with me; that I had the courage of my convictions and the wisdom to not have taken myself too seriously.

10) How do you define Leadership? Leadership is that quality of character which comes from the willingness of a person to take personal responsibility: for one’s beliefs, one’s words, and one’s actions. Thus, leadership requires decision and action in concert with others or at times over against them and the prevailing view of the moment. Leaders may lead from in front or from behind, but the defining feature of leadership is that if one is leading, others choose to follow.

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