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 is the cornerstone of every relationship. Treating each other as neighbors is where respect in politics begins. Regardless of our different backgrounds, there is more that unites us than divides us. Ray values the history and culture of the mountain communities that make the High Country “home”.
Ray meets people where they are without judgment, pretense, or pandering. If we can cut through the political noise and simply listen to the concerns of voters, then governing will be an ongoing, engaging conversation that will lead us to achieving common goals.
Ray is a businessman, minister, teacher and scientist. His ability to lead is the direct result of his professional and personal experiences. Ray knows that leadership in Raleigh requires doing the right thing for the people of Ashe and Watauga Counties. Fixing a legislature that is broken at its core will require a leader with bold, innovative solutions. Ray is ready to be that leader.
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 Western North Carolina know Ray Russell as the founder and president of RaysWeather.com. But his professional experience expands across multiple sectors of business, education and science.
Ray has been a computer science professor at Appalachian State University since 1991, previously teaching at Virginia Commonwealth and Freed-Hardeman Universities.
In 2000, Ray began RaysWeather.Com initially as a hobby. Today, RaysWeather.com is a thriving small business that provides custom weather services for people in the Southern Appalachian region. In 2016, it was recognized as the “Business of the Year” from the Boone Chamber of Commerce. But most importantly, RaysWeather.Com is the modern-day “General Store Stove” where mountain folks gather each day for a common experience of humor, wit, photos and accurate weather information.
The wide ranging and varied professional projects Ray has worked on over the years include web programming, databases, meteorology, systems design and, for a time, commercial aircraft cockpit design at NASA. He also has served as a minister for churches in Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, and North Carolina.
An avid student of exercise science and running, Ray’s grit and determination come into play when he runs marathons. In 2016, Ray decided to raise funds for the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation by running the entire length of the Blue Ridge Parkway – 469 miles in 24 days. He became the second person ever to run the entire Parkway in consecutive days.
His commitment to his community is shown by his active participation in civic organizations. For three years, Ray was campaign chair for the High Country United Way. His nonprofit service also includes the Middle Fork Greenway Task Force, the Blue Ridge Parkway Association Board, and the ZAP Fitness Board. Ray is a frequent speaker at schools, civic groups, and community events.
Ray has deep roots in Western North Carolina, having lived here for more than a quarter of a century after growing up in Manchester, Tennessee. Ray’s academic background includes a bachelor’s degree in Bible, master’s degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science, and a Ph.D in Computer Science from Georgia Tech.
Ray and Rhonda Russell have been married for 39 years and live near Boone, North Carolina. They have two children, Leah (a clinical psychologist) and Laura (a pharmacist working as a drug information specialist). Today, Ray loves his role as “Ray Ray”, grandfather to his three grandchildren. Rhonda is a powerful advocate for children, having spent 20 years as a preK and kindergarten teacher, mostly in Avery and Watauga Counties. She also has served on numerous boards and committees related to child development in the High Country.