Statement of Purpose
Government in Raleigh is broken at its core. The people of North Carolina deserve a government worthy of this Great State. To rebuild the effective legislative processes, leaders need to:
Respect – Respect constituents including their varied backgrounds, educational levels, diversity, motives, and economic conditions; respect other legislators, even if they are from a different party and ideology; have respect for the environment; and respect the history and culture of the region and state.
Listen – Truly listen to the concerns of the people, rather than dictate solutions or pander to superficial issues. Campaigning and governing must be an ongoing conversation with voters, engaging them in respectful discussion leading to understanding.
Lead – Lead the region by: 1) providing innovative solutions to problems that can be addressed by government, 2) seeking to do the right thing, rather than merely what is expedient, and 3) setting an example of patience, caring, and productive dialog.
At the state level, quality public education, providing excellent health care, encouraging economic development, ensuring safety, pursuing justice, protecting the environment, building safe and effective transportation, and overseeing quality work environments for state employees are the primary government issues. In the last 10 years, these priorities have suffered under extreme partisanship, rancor, misinformation, destructive self-interest, arrogance and greed.
Ray Russell has the experience, training, and energy to advocate effectively for the 93rd House District and improve the quality of live for citizens in the region and across the state. Voters are craving honesty and genuineness in candidates. Ray has been a trusted voice the region for almost two decades and will bring energy, transparency, and decency to the process.
Most people in the 93rd North Carolina House District “know” Ray as the founder and president of RaysWeather.Com which began in 2000 and is now the most widely read media of any type in Northwest North Carolina. RaysWeather.Com provides custom weather services for the Southern Appalachians and Foothills from Hendersonville and Balsam Mountains of North Carolina to the north end of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Waynesboro, VA, reaching about 300,000 readers every month. RaysWeather.Com was awarded “Business of the Year” in 2016 from the Boone Chamber of Commerce. But most importantly, RaysWeather.Com is the modern-day “General Store” where mountain neighbors gather virtually each day for a common experience of humor, wit, photos, and accurate weather information.
Ray and Rhonda Doss Russell have been married for 39 years. They live in Boone and have two adult children, Leah (Berry) and Laura (Kennedy). Leah is a clinical psychologist in Raleigh and Laura is a pharmacist in Bethesda, MD. Ray and Rhonda’s sons-in-law are Denny Berry (working for Wells Fargo in Raleigh) and Jeff Kennedy. Jeff is a data and informatics project manager for CareFirst (BlueCross/BlueShield) in Baltimore, MD. However, he was recently activated for the Army Reserve–Major Kennedy is currently serving as Chief of Military Operations for Corps of Engineers in Puerto Rico. Ray’s favorite role is being “Ray Ray” to his three adorable grandchildren.
Rhonda Russell has been an early childhood educator in both Avery and Watauga Counties for 20 years. She is currently a Senior Lecturer at Appalachian State University in the Department of Family and Child Studies. Rhonda is an active advocate for children having served on numerous boards and committees related to child development in the High Country.
Ray has been a computer science professor at Appalachian State University for the past 26 years. Prior to joining the Appalachian faculty, Ray served as a minister for churches in Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia and North Carolina and as a faculty member at Freed-Hardman University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Ray’s academic background includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Bible from Freed-Hardeman University, Master’s Degrees in both Mathematics and Computer Science, and a PhD in Computer Science with a minor in Psychology from Georgia Tech.
In addition to his business and educational achievements, Ray has been involved in many other activities: running the entire length (469 miles) of the Blue Ridge Parkway, becoming a Certified Running Coach, and even working for two years with NASA in commercial cockpit design.
Ray also has served his community as a volunteer in significant roles. For three years, he was Campaign Chair for the High Country United Way. He served on the Middle Fork Greenway Board Task Force and the Blue Ridge Parkway Association Board. Ray has given hundreds of talks on a wide variety of topics for schools, civic groups and community events.
Ray was born and grew up in Manchester, TN. His father is a retired high school teacher and principal. Ray’s mother retired from the Economic Development Commission for Coffee County, TN. Both remain active and have lived in Manchester for over fifty years.