Everyone has an interesting life. Some may tell their story better or have a life that is a little more exciting, adventurous, or accomplished than mine, but our stories are more similar than they are different.
Maybe our stories are alike – there are successes and failures, advantages and disadvantages, right decisions and wrong, and of course, all the sorrows and joys that are part of being on earth.
On a November Monday, I was born to a teenage mother and father in Miami, Florida. The words “teenage pregnancy” and “single-parent family” had all kinds of stigma to connect to a baby born in the ’70s. However, as if that was not enough, God would allow me to be the child of a white father and black mother to add to the adventure. My mother is of Bahamian descent; our family came here for better opportunities. My father is of Cuban descent; my grandparents escaped the horrors of Fidel Castro and communist Cuba for a better life in the United States of America. That background makes me biracial, bilingual, and multicultural, and on top of that, we were kind of “poor.” In hindsight, my family was a part of the lower working class – we were not homeless nor starving, but on the other hand, we were not overfed and didn’t take many trips to the fancy parts of town. Going to dinner at Tony Romas was my annual birthday outing, courtesy of my grandpa. My perception of “rich” was to eat baby back ribs at Tony Romas, and I was rich for a day every year. Only my grandparents had air conditioning, which hung out of their bedroom window, and I would sneak into their room during the night to get some of that cool air during a hot, muggy Florida night. So, like 95% of Americans in the ’70s, I was not born to a wealthy family.
Having young parents, who never married, presented its challenges growing up. As they grew and matured, my early years found a home with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and gracious families that would rent my mother a room. The advantage to that nomadic way of life was that I had lived in Miami, Florida, Phoenix, Arizona, San Bernadino, California, and Las Vegas, Nevada before I was ten years old. However, soon my mother made two outstanding decisions – she joined the Navy and married my stepfather. Their careers, spanning 25 and 30 years, took me to Jacksonville, Florida and Rota, Spain, during my teenage years. My father hung out with the wrong people and made fewer outstanding decisions, which landed him in prison to pay for them when I was just 4 years old. Still, as more proof that America is the greatest nation on earth, he too has an outstanding career with the government in Florida. He is happily married to my stepmother, a project manager.
Fast forward. Upon completing what was supposed to be an exile to my uncle in Alaska, ask me about that in person; I went home to live with my parents and graduated High School in Jacksonville, Florida. I attended Florida A&M and Florida State University, where I tried my best to ruin my life; nothing crazy, but I continued to rebel. Even though I don’t drink alcohol, I was part of the 86% of Americans who did drink alcohol at some point in their life. No habits, but I did go to more than a few parties.
Like most college students, my mission was to figure out what I would do for the rest of my life and how to be successful – or really, how to make money! However, in February of 1999, I met the Lord and immediately knew that I would serve Jesus in gratitude for the rest of my life. He gave me purpose and peace, the two things that all men desire. In my mind, like the apostle Paul, I would never marry and preach the gospel in some jungle of the world. Thankfully, God had another plan; I am married, well-educated, and informed. Humans have regrets; one of mine is that I am like most Americans and do not have a college degree. While I did not find it necessary for me then or now, no success has undone that, “something I didn’t finish feeling.”
I moved back to Miami, where I planned to attend ministry school. However, I ended up in the wholesale business importing health, beauty, and medical-surgical supplies and met my lovely wife, Cynthia. Church attendance was a constant for me as everything in my life revolves around service to Jesus. While I admired my pastor, I began to understand that I would not be a pastor. The marketplace is where I have found my service to Jesus most fruitful. Leading people to Christ and helping Christians do well are two passions; the marketplace is where I find the most abundant opportunity to do those two things.
In January of 2006, my wife and I decided to move to North Carolina, where we purchased a home in Harrisburg. We wanted to start a family and felt this would be the best place to raise our children. North Carolina provided the opportunities we wanted for our life and family; safety, solid Christian values, business opportunities, and pleasant people. My wife continued her banking career at Bank of America. I started a construction business, taught concealed carry handgun, laws governing self-defense, and use of deadly force classes as I continued my marketplace service to the Lord.
In 2009, while enjoying life in North Carolina with two children, thriving careers and business, amazing friends, and a new home in Concord, I felt like the rich young ruler in the bible who Jesus told to give up all he had and follow Him. My wife and I gave away everything we could and moved to Costa Rica to serve Jesus as missionaries. A local attorney counseled us that bankruptcy would be better than surrendering four properties— it was the worst bankruptcy in history. Besides our mortgage debt, it was only a $3600 bankruptcy! It is a blur, but it happened. Though I had my reasons and know that millions of other Americans and businesses have filed for bankruptcy, it didn’t feel any better. However, upon our return from mission work in Costa Rica, with the help of family, friends, and our community, we had to pull ourselves up by the bootstraps and start again. America is the only place that makes a grand comeback possible.
While living in Costa Rica, we served the Lord, grew spiritually, and further understood that America is the greatest nation in history and how wonderful a place North Carolina is to live. Out of the comfort of the red, white, and blue, lifestyle of a middle-class family, that time allowed me to know Christ in ways I may have never discovered. His Kingdom is vast, and His ways apply everywhere in creation.
We returned to Harrisburg, North Carolina, at the end of 2012. I continued my financial career and construction business as my wife gave birth to our third child, continued homeschooling, opened C3-Cynthia’s Coffee Cup, and became a North Carolina Real Estate Broker.
In 2022, I had the opportunity to run for the NC State House; it was brutal. I learned that politics isn’t nasty by itself; it is made nasty by nasty people. However, though the dirty politics was like being in the Twilight Zone, I met amazing people along the way. People I will likely be connected to for the rest of my life. So, while I do not value losing, I do value the important new relationships I found.
We appreciate our family and our great friends in North Carolina. We have continued to be blessed and thankful for the successes in our lives. However, as a witness to the economic, cultural, and value changes we’ve seen here and across the nation, I see the need to serve our community. As a parent, I understand that we all want to give our families a better future—a future of freedom and better opportunities than we had. We need leaders in our state government to secure those opportunities. Our children will enjoy greater opportunities in ten years than we have enjoyed or far less. This moment in history is making a demand of us.
Together, I know that we can make North Carolina the best state to live, work, prosper, and raise a family. Having been involved with the financial and construction industry, I will use the skills acquired not simply to fight for you but to win for you. We can no longer afford to celebrate efforts alone; that has a place, but the future needs us to win. The conservative side of the conversation seems to be on the losing side of the debate far too often. Our community needs lower taxes across the board, not simply a fight for it. The same goes for improving education and healthcare, school choice and safety, properly funding law enforcement, and securing the freedoms violated by mandates; we need wins, not just fights. Who would have imagined that we could go from religious liberty to the Governor telling us we can’t have church in a matter of weeks? Who would have guessed that we would be funding institutions that have become covens of hate against Christians, Jews, and Israel? The future needs us to win.
That is why I ask for your support and vote to elect me to the North Carolina House.