Q: Address: A: PO. Box 17976 Durham, NC 27715
Q: How long have you lived in North Carolina? A: 45 years
Q: Family A: Wife Holly, three young children
Q: Education: A: undergraduate degree, Duke University; law degree, Harvard University
Q: Previous political experience: A: I have not run for office before. As a volunteer, I worked in the campaigns of Harvey Gantt and Barack Obama.
Q: Previous professional experience: A: I've spent more than two decades helping to create good jobs and strong communities in North Carolina. My specialty is business and community development law. I've spent my legal career helping start-up companies get off the ground, helping large companies grow, and helping local governments build the infrastructure they need to attract new businesses and new jobs. This year, in this brutal economy, I believe my proven track record of working for jobs and communities is exactly what North Carolina needs in the U. S. Senate.
The essence of my work as a transactional lawyer (whether working on an acquisition or the financing of an affordable housing project) has been to help parties find their common interests and appreciate that they can accomplish more by working together-entering the transaction-than they could by working separately. The skills necessary to do this work are exactly the skills needed in shaping and leading in public discourse around difficult and potentially divisive policy issues and in galvanizing support among fellow Senators for legislation.
Q: Community, Political and Religious organizations in which you are involved: A: I had had a volunteer leadership position with a number of nonprofit organizations, including the Center for Community Self-Help, Action for Children, Planned Parenthood, Children First, and the NC Baptist Hospital. My family and I volunteer at the food ministry at our church, Asbury Temple United Methodist Church in Durham.
Q: Your campaign website address: A: KenLewisForSenate.com
Q: Why are you running for Senate? A: The big issues facing the country today are creating jobs, converting to a low carbon economy, achieving educational and immigration reform, addressing inequality, and restoring opportunity. These issues all require that we as a nation focus on our long term common interests. My personal journey has allowed me to view the world through a diverse set of perspectives. My professional work has been all about helping parties with different perspectives and goals discover their common interest and appreciate that they could achieve more by working together than by working apart. My personal and professional experience of discovering and promoting the common interest uniquely prepares me to lead in a U. S. Senate that today is focused on short-term partisan gain rather than on promoting the long-term, common interest of the people.
Q: What are the greatest challenges facing people who live in North Carolina and what would you do to address those challenges that would make voters choose you? A: The most urgent issue facing families in North Carolina and around the country today is creating jobs. We're in the worst unemployment crisis in 70 years, with 16 million Americans out of work. About a third of them have been out of work for more than six months. And almost 10 million more Americans are working part time because they can't find full-time jobs. North Carolina's jobless rate was 11.2% in February, 42nd worst in the country. It was higher than the national rate, and the highest since 1976, when the state began using its current method of calculating unemployment. I have written a detailed plan for creating jobs in the short term and the long term as well. I hope you'll go to my website, KenLewisForSenate.com, and read it. Here is a summary: Short-term solutions. The first step in turning our economy around was passage of the stimulus bill, which I would have voted for if I had been in the Senate. It is now cutting taxes for working families and creating jobs. Other short-term steps include the jobs bill President Obama recently signed, and new measures to stop the tidal wave of mortgage foreclosures sweeping across the country. I also support the following short-term measures:
• Extending unemployment benefits.
• Expanding the COBRA health insurance program.
• Allowing the Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy to expire, while renewing the cuts for the rest of us.
• Creating a 2-year temporary tax credit for companies that create new jobs. Long-term solutions. Short-term measures are needed to get us through the current crisis. But real, sustained economic progress for the middle class will come from a long-term restructuring of our system. We must encourage savings, end tax policies that reward the wealthiest at the expense of the rest of us, make health insurance more affordable and much more stable, make education more accessible, and strongly support the development in the US of new industries with good new jobs based on clean energy and green technology. In addition, we must create a culture of entrepreneurship and provide the educational reform and infrastructure to support and sustain it. In the new economy that is to come, the skills of the entrepreneur: innovation, creativity, measured risk taking, problem solving and collaboration will be essential for all workers, whether or not they own their own business. Below I've listed some of the long-term proposals I've already announced. I will be discussing more in the days ahead.
• Educational reform that teaches entrepreneurial skills.
• Establishing Universal Savings Accounts for every working American, so employees can make voluntary contributions for education and retirement.
• Opposing new taxes on the middle class.
• Implementing all the provisions of the new comprehensive health care reform legislation.
• Increasing funding for Pell Grants.
• Increasing the Recovery Act College Tax Credit (American Opportunity Tax Credit) from $2,500 to $4,000 and making the credit permanent.
• Supporting new policies to make technology transfer from basic research to business easier and faster in the US.
• Providing Sustainability Tax Credits for firms that achieve "triple bottom line" milestones (profits, people, planet), such as reducing carbon emissions and adopting sustainable environmental management systems.
• Creating a new R & D tax credit to encourage companies to innovate in clean and green technologies.
• Increased funding for basic and applied scientific research.
Q: What are the first changes you would work to implement if you are elected? A: The first change I will bring is a new style of leadership in the Senate. Today, the Senate emphasizes short-term political battles over serving the shared long-term interests of the people. My career has not been as a politician but as an active citizen. Through my professional work and my civic activities I have sought to make a difference in the lives of others by meeting them where they are, understanding their issues, obstacles, and aspirations, and using my resources to help them. This is the style of leadership I will provide in the Senate.
Q: What prior experience do you have that best prepares you for this office? A: Please see my previous answer about why I am running for Senator.
Q: What is the toughest criticism you think you will face in this election, and what is your response to that criticism? A: I believe the toughest criticisms will come from the incumbent Republican Richard Burr, who is part of the problem in the Senate today. He will fight with any attacks he can come up with to keep Washington mired in the politics of gridlock. He'll be afraid that I mean to change that, and he'll be right.