RALEIGH — N.C. House Rep. Ben Moss, a Republican who represents part of Stanly County as well as Richmond and Montgomery counties, was sworn in last week after winning his first term in office in November. Moss was also named freshman majority whip, a key leadership role that places him as a liaison between his fellow freshmen and the GOP leaders.
“I’m excited; I’m ready to get going,” Moss told SCJ on Jan. 15. “Hopefully on the 27th we’ll get up and running to see what we can get done.”
Moss said he’s waiting at the moment to hear which committees he will be assigned to. Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) will make the announcements soon and will take into account input from the members.
“I requested the Transportation Committee because of my background in messing with trains for the last 20-something years,” Moss said. “Also some things with wildlife and a few other ones. There’s a little wish list that you fill out and turn in, and then, of course, they take a look at that and then put you where they want you.”
But Moss said he is comfortable with the fact that his assignments are in the hands of Moore and believes the speaker will be a good leader.
“It really showed me a lot when he was voted in by acclamation to be speaker again,” Moss said. “I think he has a lot of respect from both sides of the aisle. I really like him. He’ll do us right. He’ll put us where we’re needed and where we’ll be the greatest assets to the people of the state and those we represent.”
Moss said, in addition to the speaker and his staff, he’s also met many other key members. Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne), he said, has been a “wealth of knowledge” who he calls when he has questions. Moss also gets advice from Rep. Wayne Sasser, another Republican who represents the rest of Stanly County, saying Sasser and Rep. Jaime Boles (R-Moore) get “the brunt of his questions.”
Moss, however, will be partnering most closely with Rep. David Willis (R-Union). Willis is freshman leader for the GOP, so together they will be leading other new majority members. Because of this, the two have desks next to each other and their offices are in the same hall. Moss says Willis is “someone I have a lot in common with.”
Moss’ role as freshman majority whip will involve him communicating to leadership what freshman Republicans are thinking on legislation and communicating what leadership’s priorities are to those majority freshmen.
“So I’ll just be the middleman, I’d say,” Moss said.
On his swearing-in ceremony, Moss said, “It was a very humbling experience because it all came together — the election is over and people trusted me with this very important position.”
Moss continued, saying, “It’s something I’ll always remember. Just looking down and seeing my name engraved on the Bible that I swore-in on that was on my desk — it was one of the best experiences of my life.”
Despite the highs of the occasion, there was also a low — the absence of his family. There was some limited attendance allowed for families, but there were tight restrictions around it, and they would have had to watch from up in the gallery. Most years, the floor is full of members, their families, staff and other guests.
“I hate the fact that my family wasn’t there,” Moss said. “I really wish things could have been different. But with this pandemic, everything has been changed. But, you know, they were still able to see me and watch it [online]. It ended up being a great day. The leadership did the best they could with the situation we’re under.”
Another memorable moment for him was when he and another member went across the hall to the Senate chambers. Moss said they were able to hear new Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson give a speech, which he called a “heartfelt, sincere, genuine message,” to the body.
While he is still waiting for the session to get started in earnest on Jan. 27 and to get his committee assignments, Moss has his legislative assistant hired, a veteran who has worked for other members, and they are working on getting the office set up.
“Now we’re in the process of doing the little things, like getting a minifridge and a microwave and some decorations, making sure we have some chairs, just the little things. But we’re chipping away at it,” Moss said.
Joking about how he’s feeling waiting for his first session to finally get going, Moss said, “I’m a bit nervous, but also a bit anxious.”