Some stories we can’t not report on and the passing of former State Senator Marc Basnight is one of them.
Basnight was the state senator from Dare County from 1985 to 2011 when he retired because of health reasons.
From 1993 until 2011 he was the Senator Pro Tem of the state senate and he was arguably the most powerful politician in the state during his tenure.
But the power he wielded in North Carolina is not the reason he is remembered so well on the Outer Banks. Marc Basnight is remembered with respect and affection locally because of what he did for the area.
Much of the extensive improvements to the roads connecting the Outer Banks with the rest of the world, were a direct result of Senator Basnight’s efforts to improve life on the Outer Banks.
He did much more than improve roads to serve the Outer Banks in his time in Raleigh. If there is an overriding legacy to his time, it was the drive he had to improve the state’s university system
There is a bit of an irony there, because Senator Basnight never went to college. He was, by his own admission, an indifferent student.
Yet something happened when he was elected state senator. Suddenly he began to study and learn the issues. It idd not make him more distant. If anything it made him more aware of how important the issues relating to the Outer Banks were.
He became a champion of environmental issues because he understood that if we did not have clean water on the Outer Banks, the local fishing industry would be hurt and hurt badly.
Yet for all the big issues he tackled there is story upon story of people talking about how he stepped in to help them personally when they asked for help.
It is fitting that his legacy is the Marc Basnight Bridge that replaced the Bonner Bridge over Oregon Inlet. Getting the replacement bridge built was a battle he fought for almost his entire time in the legislature. Combined with his understanding of how important good roads are for economic development, having his name on the bridge seems fitting.
Senator Basnight passed away at age 73 on December 28 from ALS, sometimes called Lou Gehrig Disease.