Republican leader Tim Moore is currently serving his third term as speaker and ninth term as a member of the N.C. House of Representatives.
There are also rumors that Moore wants to be considered for UNC-system president — a potential nomination that has mixed responses among the UNC community.
Interim UNC-system President Bill Roper announced he will step down on June 30, leaving the UNC Board of Governors with an open position to fill.
If elected, Moore will become chief administrator for the 17 UNC-system campuses, along with programs including the UNC Health Care System and UNC Center for Public Television.
Moore’s candidacy has been met with opposition. Throughout his time on the BOG and in the N.C. House of Representatives, Moore drew controversy for showing support for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and overriding a budget veto on Sept. 11, when most Democratic representatives were absent.
While a student at UNC in the early 1990s, Moore served as speaker of Student Congress, once attempting to defund what was then known as the Carolina Gay and Lesbian Association while members were absent during Summer Congress.
“Moore was well-known, a polarizing figure in campus politics,” Kevin Kruse, writer and professor of history at Princeton University, said.
Kruse attended UNC at the same time as Moore. Although he did not know him well, Kruse said that Moore had a reputation for leading conservative conversations. This early campus work, Kruse said, draws a clear trajectory toward Moore’s future political career, especially in Moore’s backing of the 2016 HB2 transgender bathroom bill.
Joseph Buckner, chairperson of the UNC College Republicans, said that he has heard many of the negative rumors about Moore, but does not believe they are true.
“Moore is doing a lot for North Carolina teachers,” he said.
Buckner said he thinks Moore has done well as the N.C. House Speaker and agrees with his support of Senate Bill 354 to strengthen educator pay. He did not comment on Moore’s past support of HB2, but said that it was a “complicated bill.”
President of UNC Young Democrats Alana Edwards said that she and her organization do not support Moore’s candidacy.
She said UNC cannot afford the lack of integrity and political games driving Moore’s decision-making.
“HB2 was a stain on North Carolina,” Edwards said.
The devastating social and economic consequences of HB2, she said, are another reason to oppose Moore. She said she also has concerns about Moore being divisive and highly partisan.
Moore’s potential for the role, Edwards said, is a conflict of interest. Because he is N.C. Speaker of the House, Moore has helped to appoint the BOG who will ultimately vote for the next UNC-system president.
“The ability to work across the aisle is crucial,” she said. “We need and deserve someone better than Tim Moore in this role.”
Colin Lowe, founder and co-president of UNC Young Independents, said he did not have a comment at the time of publication.
For Kipp Williams, co-president of The Campus Y and a transgender man, Moore’s leadership potential is especially troubling.
“It dehumanizes me — it dehumanizes my trans brothers, sisters and siblings," Williams said. "To allow someone who is so against people like me existing to be president of a system that serves thousands of LGBTQ+ people — as students, as staff, as faculty, as administrators — I think would be horrific for UNC.”
Williams said that Moore’s leadership might be dangerous for LGBTQ+ and marginalized individuals. He said that the president and the BOG should not become involved in individual campus politics.
“Ultimately access to public education and college education suffers greatly when there’s someone with ulterior motives in those positions,” he said.
Leadership, Kruse said, requires an appreciation for diversity in all senses of the word. He said the system president must be somebody who can bring people together, protect them and promote community consensus.
“Moore isn’t that person,” he said.
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