I’M FIGHTING FOR . . .
Education is the rising tide that lifts all ships. As someone who started their career in the classroom, I have a great deal of appreciation for our teachers who devote their lives to educating our children and building a stronger tomorrow. Federal investment in pre-K programs would help ensure that our children get a strong foundation for their educational careers. We also need to work to alleviate student debt so our children do not spend their entire adult lives paying down their student loans. We need to let them borrow at reduced interest rates and create programs that reward them with student loan forgiveness in exchange for taking jobs as teachers or in public service, especially in rural areas. This will incentivize job growth in rural areas and help our students manage their loan debt.
When I was in the General Assembly, I fought to increase the minimum wage for state workers in North Carolina. I have been proud to champion better wages for the working class my entire life, and I would continue to be a proud advocate for them in Congress. I support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. I also support passing laws that set up a system of paid family sick leave so workers can provide for their families and take days off to care for themselves and their families without sacrificing their earnings. Additionally, we need to take decisive steps towards equal pay. Women are breadwinners in their families and deserve to be paid every cent that a man gets for the same work.
Over the past decade we have seen a wave of money being invested in our political system by billionaire donors and corporations. At the same time, we have seen more and more cases of gerrymandering and laws that effectively result in elected officials choosing their voters rather than voters choosing their elected officials. We need campaign finance reform that not only limits the influence of corporations and big-money donors, but also incentivizes and encourages the voting public to donate and get involved in elections. Elected office should not be open only to the wealthy who can afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on their campaigns. We must also pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act and look at establishing independent, non-partisan systems of drawing districts to ensure fair districts, fair elections, and fair representation.
The rural areas in our state are currently suffering from a lack of access to quality medical facilities. We have seen far too many rural hospitals declare bankruptcy and close in the past decade. This is a problem that could be solved through Medicaid expansion by the state, but we must also take action on the federal level. Forcing parents to drive hours away from their homes just so their children can see a doctor is unacceptable. We need to work to improve infrastructure in those areas by providing better roads and public transportation systems that make our hospitals more accessible to the people that they serve. Finally, we need to ensure that a woman’s right to choose what to do with her body is protected against those who would seek to take the power of choice away from them.
While we should move to secure better wages for the working class, we must also take action to provide them with the resources to seek out jobs that offer higher wages. There are currently 6 million job openings in America that are available because there are not enough workers with the necessary skill set to fill them. We should look to our local community colleges to provide affordable training and certificate programs that allow those workers to acquire the necessary skills to fill these jobs. It is becoming increasingly clear that attending a four-year college is not the solution for everyone, whether that be because of financial reasons or personal reasons. With that being the case, we need to adapt our workforce training program to guarantee that opportunities for working families will always be available and accessible.
A SMARTER GUN POLICY
I grew up in rural North Carolina surrounded by guns. I respect someone’s right to defend their home by purchasing a gun under the Second Amendment. However, the Second Amendment does not prohibit sensible gun reform that would address the epidemic of gun violence across the country. We need universal background checks, a ban on high capacity magazines, and an assault weapon ban. Furthermore, Congress must fully repeal the Dickey Amendment and allocate funds to the CDC to study gun violence as a public health issue. Our children are marching and calling for change and we must stand with them and take decisive action.
Our district is home to three of North Carolina’s major rivers: the Tar, the Neuse, and the Cape Fear. These waterways are a vital part of the culture, economy, and environment of the state. Most importantly, their watersheds provide the drinking water for millions of North Carolinians. In our district, agricultural runoff continues to pollute creeks and streams, costing taxpayers extra cash every time they turn on the tap. However, we should not punish farmers for trying to make a living. I support increasing funding to the USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Program, which helps farmers establish added green space along creeks and streams. This win-win program significantly reduces runoff while restoring the natural beauty of our waterways. Water quality affects everyone, so no party should be left out of the process.
North Carolina is the second largest producer of solar power in the United States, and a lot of that energy is generated right here in our district. Our solar industry has been able to consistently grow due to high demand, low cost, and state and federal tax incentives that make solar energy cost effective. Clean energy creates new jobs and new investments: North Carolina’s solar industry currently employs over 7,000 individuals and represents a multi-million dollar market. However, federal tax credits on renewables are set to expire in 2019, and the President’s tariffs on solar equipment will hurt the industry’s growth in the state and in the nation. I support the bipartisan effort by representatives from throughout the West and South to repeal these new solar tariffs and maintain North Carolina’s place as a leader in solar energy.
I strongly support protecting our natural spaces for future generations to enjoy. The easiest way to save the places we love is through supporting the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Since its inception, the fund has provided almost $250 million in investments to North Carolina’s natural areas. This includes 6 projects in Wilson County, 50 projects in Wake County, 9 projects in Johnston County, 12 projects in Harnett County, and 2 projects in Franklin County. However, the fund has to be renewed every few years and is under almost constant threat from outside interests. I support permanently funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund so that our children can enjoy the same outdoor spaces we do today.