N.C. Senator finds roots in Thomasville
Known for furniture, textiles, the Big Chair and trains rumbling through town, Thomasville made its mark this week in another realm —politics.
Chad Barefoot, a former Chair City resident and graduate of East Davidson High School, became one of the youngest members of the State Senate Wednesday. At 29 years old, he will represent N.C. Senate District 18, which is comprised of eastern Wake County and all of Franklin County, after ousting Democrat incumbent Doug Berger in the November election.
Years before his successful campaign, Barefoot decided to join the political fray in an effort to bring moral discourse back to politics.
"I saw a need for young people who had a vested interest in long-term solutions," he said. "That's what most exciting about (the inauguration). I'm 29 years old and have the opportunity to help solve problems that will affect the long-term future of this state."
Barefoot graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in public management. His original intent was to become a city or county manager. He never thought he would serve in an elected office.
His career appeared to be rolling along at the pace he set for himself until Barefoot abandoned course to attend Southeastern Theological Seminary in Wake Forest. The unexpected move came in light of political scandals which wracked North Carolina and prompted him to earn his Master of Arts degree in Christian ethics.
"A lot of our state leaders were going to jail," Barefoot said. "I used to say our public servants were finishing their time of service to our state in the pen. That is what motivated me to go to Southeastern."
The decision turned out to be an excellent one, as his career trajectory has led him through the offices of several state leaders on his way to becoming their colleague.
"He's not an inexperienced 29-year old," said Sam Barefoot, Chad's father. "Anybody who has known Chad knows he operates as someone who is much older than he is, so it's not surprising to find him already in the Senate. He's had a lot of good people who have helped him along the way, recognizing his leadership qualities and intellect."
The first to recognize these leadership skills was his social studies teacher at East Davidson. She encouraged her pupil to pursue politics as his calling in life.
Although he now represents the new District 18, Barefoot considers Davidson County to be the place he first learned how to perform some of his present duties.
"Thomasville impacted the way I understand and view public policy, because I believe Davidson County represents North Carolina in a big way," he said. "I had a fantastic social studies teacher in high school, Marvina Myers. She really pushed us to be involved and it was through her I participated in the North Carolina Page Program. I was a page in the House for Rep. Jerry Dockham."
Dockham remembers his colleague’s days as a Page and speaks highly of his young career.
"Chad is someone who I've always respected, admired and enjoyed having him many, many years ago," Dockham said. "I saw something in him then and am very proud to see him inaugurated today. I am very proud of him."
Barefoot’s parents, who have lived in Davidson County for 31 years, say the honor of stepping into one of the state's primary roles of leadership is one that has been a long time coming for their son. Samuel Barefoot and his wife Pamela, Chad's wife Paige and his twin sister, Alison, were all on hand for the inauguration ceremony.
"It's been a pretty amazing journey for him," said Pamela Barefoot. "Chad surrounded himself with good, Christian political leaders, who began to mentor him and get involved in the work he was doing. They saw something in him.
"He has a servant's heart. He just wants to make this a better place for his generation and his children."
Staff Writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 888-3575, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.