|Why did you decide to run for public office?|
My activism in local government initiated from a rather unexpected circumstance. My daughter was attending Hanes Middle School in Winston-Salem at the time the groundwater contamination underneath the school was revealed to the public. The contamination levels had been increasing for years, however our local government officials made little effort to keep the public informed of the situation. This personal experience prompted me to look deeper into the inner workings of local and state government. What I found was in some cases troubling.
While slight decreases in income tax were being promoted by our representatives, the revenue deficit was more than made up with increased taxes on goods, services, new fees, and increasing public debt. I cannot name one person who had two jobs before this tax reform who can now afford only one job. The tax reform benefited some, but not most of us.
|I have been an activist for many years working as a volunteer for conservative causes. I advocated for Lower taxes, Less Government, More Freedom. I worked on many other campaigns to elect good men and women. I served in many positions within the Republican Party, including Vice Chair of the NCGOP. Serving in the Legislature was not something I ever aspired to. Circumstances led me to my position. I was asked to fill a vacancy in the House, after the death of my Representative. I did not seek election. I was then asked to fill a Senate vacancy when my Senator retired. I have been blessed to be reelected for two terms. It has been my honor to serve the citizens of the district and I hope to continue in that role.||My reason for seeking reelection to the NC Senate is to serve the citizens of Davie and Forsyth counties. I am a proven conservative leader who has lived and worked as part of the Davie County community for many years. I will listen to all I represent and work on their behalf. My goal will be to help citizens and work with others to come up with workable solutions to the challenges facing us. Help me return to the Senate to work for you.|
|Additional comments: As an elected representative of citizens in our two counties, activism must be focussed here in our community. Representation for our citizens has not been fulfilled by either party and the citizens have paid the consequences. Two rural community hospitals in our region have closed since 2015. Winston-Salem employers reported more jobs lost due to business closures and layoffs to the NC Department of Commerce in 2017 than every other city in NC. Our public schools continue to struggle in performance rankings. These are real local issues that neither Senator will acknowledge. The first step in solving a problem is identifying the problem. Activism must start with identifying the problems and engaging the community to solve them together.|
|Should private foundations created to support a state college be required to follow open records law?|
|For purely government functions, I strongly support open records laws. The federal Freedom of Information Act and state "Sunshine" laws provide public access to government documents and records. These laws greatly contributed to maintaining transparency of the actions of government officials.
If and how open records laws should be applied to private foundation donations is a different issue and my positions on specific disclosures are highlighted as follows.
|Yes. Private foundations should not be exempt from open records law. Transparency and accountability are crucial. Foundations promote fundraising, event planning, publicity, etc. for the universities. These foundations should be open and transparent and held to high scrutiny. Public universities are supported by taxpayer funding and many foundations and universities share resources. Foundations frequently supplement salaries of university administrators, particularly coaches and athletic directors. Many news stories have highlighted abuses by foundations in wasteful spending and nepotism. All records should be completely open when taxpayer funds are involved.||I strongly favor transparency in decision-making by government entities. Our open meeting laws help accomplish transparency and accountability where public business is conducted. If private foundations are conducting public business, then they should be held to standards of transparency and accountability like other governmental entities.|
|Additional comments: There is some daylight between each of our responses on privacy and open records laws. The exceptions I have stated balances the integrity of open records laws while preserving an individual's privacy. The Senator"s viewpoint that private foundations should fall under open records law is not balanced and infringes on an individual's privacy to participate in a philanthropic foundation. In regards to open records law, I am most concerned on recent changes in political campaign finance law and ethics enforcement. This particular election has had an incredible amount of "special interest" funding. If you received a pile of campaign flyers in the mail, you know what I mean. These were all funded from PO Boxes in Raleigh, that frankly do not care how their policies adversely affect Forsyth and Davie Counties. During this election cycle, several of these PACs (political action committees) have not been fully transparent and shuffle funds between PO Boxes. Another concern I have voiced is the chronic influence Duke Energy has on the political system. I highlighted this in a recent post which illustrates the shocking number of poltical campaigns receiving PAC influence. It is my belief that a state Senator must favor the substance of the policy over financial influence from the "special interests." Enforcement of open record laws is our only protection against these abuses.|
|What do you expect to be the top issue for Legislators next year and how would you deal with that issue?|
Education, healthcare, taxes, and jobs are my top long-term issues, which I will discuss in the following section. With that being said, the imminent issue to address in the upcoming 2019-2020 legislative session is determining the rules to create election districts. It is imminent because the 2020 US Census will be conducted and the resulting new population data will be used to appropriate representation for both state and federal seats. Drawing fair election districts has been a great challenge for our current legislature. The election districts created from the last census have faced repeated legal challenges (reaching the federal Supreme Court) and has resulted in expensive special elections and additional legal costs. The expenses of course have been paid with taxpayer dollars. The district 31 Senate seat that I am running in has been specifically singled out with legal challenges and that is why Davie County has moved from district 34 to district 31. This is also why two incumbent Senators are running for the same seat.
Ensuring every voice counts is a foundation of democracy that I strongly believe in. Voters should choose their representation, not politicians choosing their voters.
|The Legislature will face many important issues in the next session. All are important. We will continue the work on processes already started, economy/jobs, education reform, tax cuts, regulation reform, etc.
Since I chair Health and Human Services, obviously, my focus will be on important changes taking place in that arena. We are in the process of reforming the entire system of Medicaid and Child Welfare services. These changes have been long needed. Medicaid will be going to a capitated system and we believe this will deliver better health care to more people at a lower cost. Child Welfare services are being reformed as well and the result will be better services for our children. We have seen a huge increase in children entering our system due to the opioid crisis. And I use the word CRISIS, very intentionally. My committees are focusing on the addiction issue and placed it on the top of our radar. Many changes have been made for addiction intervention, opening more treatment beds/facilities and in depth treatment to stop the rotating door of substance abuse and treatment. With successful treatment, many people can return to jobs and families and become a vital asset to our communities. We cannot give up on those most in need.
Special Note - The Senator made these comments in 2016 in the WS Journal candidate summaries
Medicaid reform has just been implemented. There are many changes that will take place. It's too soon to consider expanding Medicaid at the present time. The new reform needs to be fully implemented and see how it will work in practice... New changes will hopefully improve our outlook for sustainability. We must continue to be diligent where Medicaid is concerned.
|An issue that's on everyone's mind is school safety. Every parent deserves to know that their children will arrive home safely from school. I am actively partnering with Davie County efforts to implement increased safety measures. I am pushing for legislation to make it a felony to make an actual threat of mass violence on school property (right now such a threat is only a misdemeanor). We need to ensure we have trained School Resource Officers at every school. We must also do what we can to better identify, treat and take appropriate security measures with respect to those individuals who pose a potential threat for violence. And we must continue to work to improve communications between agencies that share responsibilities in this area (e.g. law enforcement, schools, social services; Dragonfly House). Some want to use school violence as a pretext to threaten our Second Amendment rights. Let me be clear. I will not support any legislation that would in any way hinder our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms.|
|Additional comments: When comparing the 2018 and 2016 responses from the Senator it is remarkable how little has been accomplished on healthcare reform. The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) was enacted eight years ago. Our State government was not prepared then for the impact of this federal law and eight years later is still tying to figure out what to do. In 2016, 500,000 citizens of North Carolina were without healthcare options when the Senator stated it was "too soon" to consider Medicaid expansion. Two years later, those 500,000 citizens are still without healthcare options. Health care insurance premiums, co-pays, and the cost of drugs continue to increase. The quality of healthcare delivered continues to decrease. "Changes have been long needed," and North Carolina needs a chair on the Health and Human Services committee that can stand up to the "special interests" of healthcare, rather than take their money for campaign flyers and sit out on the sidelines.|
True reform must include reducing the non-medical care costs incurred by insurance companies and healthcare providers. These costs and all uninsured medical care are currently passed to the taxpayer. This is the problem we must address and perhaps I am the only one who can say it, since I do not accept campaign contributions from insurers nor healthcare systems. Also, here are my comments from 2016: "My position is we must be pro-active, innovative, and actually do something to control healthcare costs. Being "diligent" is simply not enough action." I believe I nailed it in 2016.
Our state government should take the lead making innovative policies to reduce the cost of healthcare in the U.S. This includes: 1) limiting non-medical care expenditures of insurers and healthcare providers and 2) strengthening Certificate-of-Need laws, which protect regional medical care access and prevent unnecessary costly expansion projects.
It was a mistake that our state representatives rejected federal Medicaid funding without having an alternative plan in place. Our federal income tax contributions are paying for Medicare expansion in other states and not for our citizens. Let's keep that support in North Carolina!
First, we must reduce the lopsided expenditures on corporate-sponsored testing/curriculum, over-priced electronics that are outdated before they are paid for, and unnecessary building projects. NC teachers' pay remains ranked No. 40 nationally and needs to be upwardly adjusted to remain competitive with our region.
Economy and Jobs
Tax incentives are the most effective tool government has to encourage company growth and relocation to North Carolina. Incentives must be conditional on NEW jobs created. Tax breaks for in-state job relocation and building projects that do not add jobs only benefit corporate profits and not the economy nor community.
|I am a proud Christian, Conservative, Republican, in that order. I am humbled and honored to serve my fellow citizens. I never forget that I work for those who have given me the opportunity to serve. My door is always open and I welcome hearing from my constituents. My office is known for giving the best constituent service. If a constituent request goes unserved, I want to know about it. I believe that Government goes to those who show up. Citizens need to "show up" and let legislators hear from them. Special interests are always going to be heard. I want to hear directly from the citizens. That is who I represent.
I believe government that governs least, governs best. Free people left to their own talents do almost everything better without the heavy hand of government. Business owners and individual talents are capable of great things and government should get out of the way and allow them to pursue their dreams.
The money you earn is yours. We are blessed to have generous citizens willing to share these resources in order for government to function. We should not be asked to fund things outside of core government responsibilities. We have lost sight of that somehow.
I am proud to have played a part in the policies initiated in the last few years to allow citizens to keep more of their money. After all, they earned it in the first place and nobody can decide how to spend it better than the families who earned it the old fashioned way, WORKING FOR IT.
I have a long history of speaking, writing and voting. I am an open book. Nobody should wonder about where I stand on almost every issue. My website is full of examples. There are news stories out there criticizing me for my bold stances and comments. I welcome that discussion and am happy to discuss my record at any time. I look forward to continuing to serve the citizens of District 31.
|One of my major objectives is to work for better communications between the legislature and the citizens we represent. Good decisions are not made in a vacuum, they require listening, understanding, and working with others.
Specific issues that are priorities for me are:
(1) Achieving sustainable quality affordable healthcare for our citizens. Over the course of nearly two decades, I have worked with others in our community to revitalize Davie County Hospital. Our hospital was about to close in 2000; now, we have a new state of the art hospital built with no taxpayer funding along with greatly improved medical services. We are on the verge of repurposing the original hospital to provide a wonderful medical training facility for our community college students interested in healthcare professions. I would like to use my experience and passion to continue efforts on behalf of affordable sustainable healthcare, both in our community and state-wide.
(2) Reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses. My career has been devoted to helping small businesses cope and thrive notwithstanding oppressive governmental regulations. I now serve on the legislative Administrative Oversight Committee, which allows me to use my experience to work to reduce the regulatory burden on small businesses.
(3) Economic development. Davie County is a model for economic development efforts state-wide. I will work as a partner in Raleigh to facilitate future economic development efforts and find new opportunities for job growth. Road improvements will be a key part of that equation.
(4) Public education. I have been in position to facilitate improved communications between education and legislative leaders, helping lead to successful resolution of the K-3 class size crisis. I am committed to working constructively to address other critical education issues.
I am honored and privileged to serve Davie County citizens in the General Assembly. I will continue to work diligently on behalf of all I represent.
|Additional comments: To sustain a competitive economy, we must have a workforce trained for today's workplace (priority #1-education) and a defined healthcare policy (priority #2-healthcare). The instability of the state's long-term plan to contain healthcare costs is a huge disadvantage when recruiting new companies to our region.|