MORGANTON, N.C. – Edward Phifer, a long-time furniture industry veteran who was also a co-founder and executive of luxury furniture manufacturer EJ Victor, is running for State Senate seat in the 46th District of North Carolina, which includes Avery, Burke and Caldwell counties.
Phifer is running as a Democrat against Republican incumbent Warren Daniel, who has served in the State Senate since 2011.
The opportunity to run against Daniel occurred when the when the previous democratic candidate left the race earlier this year. Phifer was asked to run by area democratic officials and agreed.
Phifer, 78, has lived in Morganton for more than 75 years. He helped form EJ Victor in the late 1980s with John Jokinen and Joe Manderson, who like Phifer previously worked at Henredon. After retiring from EJ Victor in 2015, he went to work at Hardwoods of Morganton as a broker, then founded Phifer Lumber Co. in 2016. He continues to serve on the board of EJ Victor.
This is not Phifer’s first time in politics. In the mid-1970s, he served as a county commissioner in Burke County for about four years.
While he said he never had intentions of running for public office again, Phifer bowed to the wishes of fellow local Democrats who wanted someone they perceived as a suitable contender against Daniel.
While the three counties he would represent are largely Republican strongholds, Phifer is touting issues he believes resonates with the general public throughout the region.
He is a strong supporter of public education and is pushing for greater broadband Internet access in counties where it’s estimated between 25% and 31% of the population does not have such access. This, he said, is an important issue particularly as more children are learning from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He also supports better access to quality healthcare and expanding Medicaid, another issue he said is important, particularly during the pandemic. In addition, he supports environmental issues that have received support from the furniture and timber industries in the region.
“The furniture industry and timber industries have been doing a good job,” he said relating to their support of sustainability initiatives. “We are planting more trees than we are harvesting.”
He also supports the needs to pay teachers competitively in order to support a strong education system in North Carolina.
But perhaps his No. 1 issue and one he believes is important to most of the general population is his support of Congressional term limits.
“The people in Washington will not do it to themselves,” he said of the need to pass resolutions limiting Congressional terms. “The only way to do it is through state conventions. … Congressional term limits is one of my main, and strongest and most passionate issues.”