Please read through the responses (Feb. 23 Winston Salem Journal) and compare my views with the other two candidates. Select the responses that are most consistent with yours and click "Submit" at the bottom of the page. If your opinions do not match any of the candidates, there is an option for that too. Simply go to the questionnaire "fill-in" at the bottom of the page.

Note, these are the candidate responses that were submitted to the Winston-Salem Journal for the 2016 primary. The same significant problems with our region's EDUCATION, HEALTHCARE, and JOBS remain two years later. Our Senators were distracted from these issues in their fight for new election districts for us. The problem is two Senators fought to be in the SAME District. Therefore, as you read the candidates responses, Mr. Brewer (in the third column) is no longer in our district. He has been replaced in the primary with ANOTHER Senator.

I had hoped for this 2018 primary the Winston-Salem Journal would have solicited updated responses in the candidate's own words as they did in 2016. The paper did not continue with this format for 2018. The more recent candidate article can be found here.

What would be your top priority if elected?
No. 1, Education (K-12, vocational) - Forsyth and Yadkin counties are in the bottom half for K-12 student performance in a state that ranks No. 40 nationally.

No. 2, Healthcare - The inaction of our state government has made this issue worse.

No. 3, Jobs - Fix the first two priorities, the third will follow.
My top priorities are to repeal the Map Act and protect citizens by restricting imminent domain use. We will continue the tax reform already under way which cut corporate and personal income tax in NC. Continuing to roll back regulations on business will recruit business and enable existing business expansion. My top priority is tax reform. One flat tax rate, not two, almost 6 percent and 4 percent. NC can add a few simple deductions but no "targeted" exemptions. The sales tax bite has expanded and made taxation more complicated. NC can either charge sales tax or not, with exceptions such as food.
Additional comments: My top priorities are consistent with the top spending categories for our state: #1 Education and #2 Healthcare. These issues affect EVERYONE! Even if you are a empty nester with paid-off college loans and everyone in your family is in perfect health,YOU need to be concerned. 80 cents of every dollar you give to the state goes to the cost of these two priorities (see House Bill 97). Repealing the Map Act gets an "Aye" vote from me, but as a priority, we must focus on education and healthcare costs and putting our tax dollars into effective programs that work for us.

How would you rate the performance of the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly?
A poor-performance and I oppose the wording of the question. Emphasizing "Republican-led" implies the problem is partisan. It is not. The poor-performance is a symptom of misplaced representation. Corporate and special interests are receiving disproportionate attention at the expense of citizen representation. "Lobbyist-led" is more accurate in describing our Assembly. Excellent. Personally I'm proud of some bills that I sponsored to provide health insurance for autistic children, provide protection against sexual abuse in group homes, and protect NC companies against foreign courts. We have worked hard to make North Carolina's business climate ideal for job creation and long term prosperity. Much better with a Republican Senate, House and governor! There is much more to do, and undo however. We need to strengthen personal rights like life and liberty. Never again must private property be taken for private use. We have lost private and local rights with quick ill-advised fracking laws.
Additional comments: I have always been a member of the Republican party, but that does not mean I agree with every Republican candidate or every "Republican" idea. Representation for our citizens has not been fulfilled by either party. Obstruction and polarization pervades our government. Voting on bills is strickingly polarized, where Republicans and Democrats vote as single blocks, rather than individuals. Our elected officials must represent the interests of all citizens in their district. The vote of a state Senator must favor the substance of the bill rather than the political pressure from their party or financial pressure from their sponsors.

Do you think the state should expand Medicaid coverage? Why or why not?
Yes. Approximately 500,000 North Carolinians are without any healthcare coverage. It was a mistake rejecting 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! 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. No, expanding would appear to be a trap! Often, we have taken a federal $1 grant, only to pay $10 a few years later. NC should instead work on assisting and encouraging citizens out of poverty. Being covered doesn't mean you can afford to visit the doctor or buy medicine.
Additional comments: The Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) was enacted six years ago. The Medicaid "Reform" bill referenced was passed last September (5.5 years later!) Please, have a look at this bill. You will be disappointed, so very disappointed. House Bill 372 does NOT reduce the cost of healthcare. House Bill 372 does NOT improve access to healthcare. House Bill 372 DOES create a brand new administrative division and staffs it with an appointed Director with a 9 year term! Meanwhile, 500,000 citizens of North Carolina remain without healthcare options and the federal financial incentives have gone away to other states and will soon expire. 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 or healthcare systems.

How would you encourage companies to move to and/or expand in North Carolina?
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 relocations and building projects that do not add jobs only benefit corporate profits and not the economy or community. By making certain our business climate is welcoming. Lower taxes, less regulation and a trained work force are the most important qualities for business. We must reduce the complexity of moving here or expanding. The amount of paperwork, reporting, regulations, taxes, etc. drives away the competitive spirit. Startup costs are way too exorbitant, especially for the small business. Vocational education must be exceptional. Wise, fair incentives can also be used, but wisely and fairly.
Additional comments: To be competitive, we must have a workforce trained for today's workplace (priority #1-education) and a defined healthcare policy (priority #2-healthcare). Relocation of a company carries a high cost with risk. The instability of the state's long-term plan to contain healthcare costs adds uncertainty to cost projections and has a detrimental impact on recruiting new companies to our region.

Has the state done enough to protect rivers and lakes from coal ash and other pollutants?
Absolutely not and the polluters have not been held accountable. The Connect NC Bond ($2 billion) is on the March 15 primary ballot and is described in 124 words. Three words account for $309 million, "water and sewer systems." Take a guess what water system the taxpayer will be "improving." I believe the state has done a good job dealing with a very bad situation. The coal ash problem was serious and actions have been taken to see that this will not happen again. The Commission assigned to oversight is a good thing and is an extra layer of protection. We should learn from history. We always need to study what the worst outcome might be, and design accordingly, whenever possible. We now know how to build better hurricane resistant houses. That doesn't, however, eliminate all danger. We're going too fast and pushing fracking as a silver bullet for NC.
Additional comments: If history is our lesson, then let me point out that a "Commission" approved the tragic water supply policy in Flint Michigan. Companies must be held accountable for their mistakes and the taxpayers should not be expected to subsidize their infrastructure and clean-up costs.

How would you increase financing for K-12 education in North Carolina, and where would the increases go?
First, we must reduce the lopsided expenditures on corporate-sponsored testing/curriculum and over-priced electronics that are outdated before they are paid for. The current spending priorities do not work (see performance rankings above). NC teachers' pay is ranked No. 40 nationally. Let's prioritize teachers' pay and see if that strategy works better. Education spending in NC has increased dramatically over the past two sessions. Teachers received the largest raise in history after not having a raise for many years. As NC's economy continues to improve, there will be more money for education. It must go to the classroom and not toward administration. NC taxpayers are paying 5 percent more this year for K-12 education than last year. We must ensure that all net proceeds from the Education Lottery actually goes toward education and without the current restrictions. We could pay good teachers more by not wasting money on a renamed "common core" program.
Additional comments: Sadly, the largest teacher pay raise in history was a one time $750 bonus. Compared to other states, North Carolina remains at the very bottom of teacher's pay. This is an unjustifiable disparity in compensation. I currently have three children in K-12 public schools and I can personally attest that the teaching staff are heroic in their efforts despite the lack of state and school board support. Also, every dollar from the Education Lottery (to Forsyth county) is spent on the debt from the 2006 school bond.

What is the most pressing issue that the state will face in the next two years?
Healthcare costs. 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. Medicaid spending has been growing at an unsustainable pace. The past year was much better but it is still a huge problem. New changes will hopefully improve our outlook for sustainability. We must continue to be diligent where Medicaid is concerned. NC will need to fight to win the battles of changing job markets. We need to prepare to reinforce the more conventional manufacturing jobs with higher technically skilled workers and with the addition of more service oriented jobs. Education systems may need to change greatly to help keep us competitive.
Additional comments: See my previous comments on Medicaid. My position is we must be pro-active, innovative, and actually do something to control healthcare costs. Being "diligent" is simply not enough action.

Would you support an independent commission for redistricting? Why or why not?
To protect the integrity of redistricting, the process must be independent of potential partisan gains-losses and be respectful of the laws in place. Fair and equitable redistricting is a responsibility of the General Assembly and they should perform this duty with rigor and be held accountable. I would certainly support a computer model redistributing. That appears to be the most fair way. I'm not opposed to a commission and I could support that as well. Some will still question the fairness of a commission but computer models are certainly non partisan. I don't believe there is such a thing. Districts should include whole counties, adding adjacent counties or zip codes as needed. A single line should separate districts. Party affiliation, race or gender should have no influence. Agree on the rules and a computer algorithm could do most of the work.
Additional comments: Excessive gerrymandering has been legally challenged is several states. In our own state, the consequence was catastrophic where the US congressional race will no longer appear on the March 15th ballot. It has been post-poned to June 7th to accommodate the fact that citizens AND CANDIDATES have been shuffled into other districts. The new districts drawn for the June 7th primary were in fact drawn with assistance from computer models to achieve "district compactness." I propose a two-step process. First, the Assembly agrees on an equitable district map, and second, the map is court approved. This plan will eliminate the extensive costs of challenging the legality of the revised maps.

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