CHARLOTTE — Ahead of the general election on Nov. 8, Channel 9 is asking candidates in several local races why they’re running and what they hope to accomplish if elected. We sent five questions to all candidates contending for the North Carolina state Senate in local races and asked them to respond in about 100 words.
- What is the top priority for your district?
- Are you in favor of Medicaid expansion?
- What is your position on abortion?
- Should North Carolina legalize mobile sports betting?
- Should the legislature give Charlotte the authority to ask voters for a sales tax increase referendum for transit?
Voters will elect representatives for North Carolina’s House and Senate. Republicans are attempting to take back a supermajority. Republicans need to pick up three seats in the House and two seats in the Senate to be able to override a veto by Gov. Roy Cooper.
Six local Senate seats are up for grabs, including four contested races. Three of those contests will pit incumbent Democrats against Republican challengers looking to make gains statewide.
Below are the complete, unedited responses of each candidate who chose to participate.
Incumbent Republican Vickie Sawyer is uncontested in her bid for another term.
Incumbent Democrat Mujitaba A. Mohammed is uncontested in her bid for another term.
Mark Robeson (R)
What is the top priority for your district? Crime (followed by education). Our crime rate is skyrocketing and we are hemorrhaging police officers. CMPD is short 400 officers and that’s growing weekly. Charlotte is the 6th worst City in America for human trafficking, and we are barely dealing with that travesty. The state must get involved if the city won’t tackle crime and it starts with standing behind our LEO’s. Steele Creek is 60 square miles- the size of Asheville- and has only 7 officers assigned to it at any given time. The state must allocate more $ for more Meck County Asst. District Attorneys to keep criminals off the streets, as well.
Are you in favor of Medicaid expansion? Yes.
What is your position on abortion? I, like 70% of Americans, believe abortion should be rare but have exceptions: rape, incest and when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother. NC state law currently allows abortion up to 20 weeks (5 months) and has an exception for danger to the mother ONLY.
Should North Carolina legalize mobile sports betting? Yes. It’s none of the state’s business what citizens do with their personal finances.
Should the legislature give Charlotte the authority to ask voters for a sales tax increase referendum for transit? Yes. But my reasoning is based on Charlotte’s right of autonomy rather than the specific reason for the tax. The state has no business telling our city what it can and can’t do. Local transit tax (or any other local tax) is a city issue, and the state should stay out of it. As a reminder, Charlotte provides over 20% of NC’s annual tax revenue and we see far less of that coming back to CLT. That has to change next year with new people representing Mecklenburg County in Raleigh.
DeAndrea Salvador (D)
What is the top priority for your district? The “all-important” quality of life issues shared by D39 constituents have consistently been Health/Safety, Economy/Infrastructure/Climate, & Teachers/Education; each being pursued in a manner that is just and fair. Transportation and Infrastructure (affordable housing) have continually surfaced as leading indicators in constituency sentiment(s), so I will continue to collaborate and work hard in these areas.
Are you in favor of Medicaid expansion? Yes. Medicaid expansion is a common-sense solution to provide health insurance to hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, who otherwise do not have access due to affordability barriers. In addition to the positive public health impact of expanding Medicaid, expansion can also serve as a bolster to jobs across the state and alleviate burdens in rural areas.
What is your position on abortion? In the 2021-2022 Biennium, I established my support of Roe vs. Wade codification, on record, by signing on as a co-sponsor of SB888 - Codify Roe and Casey Protections. This advocacy would continue. Politicians should not interfere with medical decisions between a doctor and their patient.
Should North Carolina legalize mobile sports betting? Yes, with the presumption that the increased revenue would be appropriated to projects that can provide for the betterment of our state, such as net-new funding for our educational system at the K-12, and upper educational levels.
Should the legislature give Charlotte the authority to ask voters for a sales tax increase referendum for transit? Yes. Charlotte has experienced tremendous growth, and the modernization of the city’s infrastructure must continue to evolve. A sales tax increase referendum to fund transit initiatives is a viable solution, contingent upon consensus between state and local government, and quantitative evidence and contingencies to ensure the planned increase can weather varying economic forecasts and scenarios that may impact our local economy, such as future sustained growth, as well as sales projections.
Bobbie Shields (R)
What is the top priority for your district? The three top priorities are economic development, education, and infrastructure. Senate District 40 has a diverse population with affordable housing, safety and community improvement being the primary economic development issues. The district could benefit from additional infrastructure investments. The district includes the University City area, the old Eastland Mall area, Mint Hill and a portion of Matthews.
Are you in favor of Medicaid expansion? I am in favor of Medicaid expansion. There are health disparities in the district. A visit to the emergency room would highlight the disparities. Unfortunately, Medicaid expansion alone will not result in primary care attention for all who need it. Encumbering Medicaid expansion with other items, such as “Certificate of Need”, might not be ideal but could help get Medicaid expansion passed. Careful analysis is needed to make sure Medicaid funding is sustainable.
What is your position on abortion? I do not think government should have a role in abortion decisions, including abortion funding. For that reason, Roe vs Wade should have never happened. Realistically, the abortion “debate’ forces government to act or react. If government must be involved, I believe elective abortion, except for criminal or medical reasons, should not be allowed after a fetus would be capable of survival outside the womb.
Should North Carolina legalize mobile sports betting? No; however, at some date in the future, the majority of legislators will succumb to pressure to legalize mobile sports betting. It will be increasingly difficult to prevent technological gambling capabilities and to enforce existing anti-gambling laws. Mobile sports betting will soon be legal in North Carolina, but it will not be a unanimous decision. I doubt those opposed will lose sleep over its passing.
Should the legislature give Charlotte the authority to ask voters for a sales tax increase referendum for transit? Yes. The future of transit in Charlotte should be a local decision and the legislature should not hinder that opportunity. Transit funding often relies on supplemental State government funding. That is where the legislature attention should be. If elected to the Senate, I would ask for a detailed business plan before supporting supplemental State funding. Charlotte does a reasonable job with transit planning and should be able to justify any funding request – including from Charlotte voters.
Joyce Waddell (D)
What is the top priority for your district? Affordable housing
Are you in favor of Medicaid expansion? Yes
What is your position on abortion? Abortion should be a decision between a woman and her medical team.
Should North Carolina legalize mobile sports betting? Yes. It is already taking place. If it becomes legalized, the state can make revenue to provide expanded services to communities.
Should the legislature give Charlotte the authority to ask voters for a sales tax increase referendum for transit? Charlotte should have its own authority to make decisions concerning taxes based on the needs of the community.
Bonni Leone (R)
Despite several attempts, Channel 9 could not reach Bonni Leone to include her in the candidate guide.
Natasha Marcus (D)
What is the top priority for your district? When I hear from constituents, the most frequent requests are for 1) better investments in public education (teacher pay, school buildings, student resources), 2) reproductive freedom, 3) voting rights and fair maps, and 4) affordable healthcare. My constituents also want action on climate change, marijuana reform, road improvements, background checks on all firearm purchases, and age restrictions on assault-style weapon purchases. The order of urgency of these priorities is different from person to person; they are all important.
Are you in favor of Medicaid expansion? Yes. It is so clearly the right thing to do. It would save lives, avoid medical bankruptcies, improve health, stimulate our economy, create thousands of jobs, save rural hospitals, and reduce the price of insurance for everyone who is already insured, all without any expenditures by the state or its taxpayers. We pay our federal taxes to cover the cost of Medicaid Expansion and have been doing so for over a decade. But unless we expand Medicaid, we are rejecting the benefits it would provide. That’s terrible policy. We should expand Medicaid ASAP.
What is your position on abortion? The protections we had under Roe v Wade should have remained the standard in America. My bill, SB888, would codify Roe in NC. Pregnancy and childbirth are major life events that demand significant risk and sacrifice. The decision about when and whether to give birth is deeply personal. The government should not make these private decisions for us. Abortion is part of reproductive heathcare and politcians have no place inserting their preferences into our lives. Without the right to control our own bodies, we become second class citizens. 100 words is not enough to address this important issue. My full statement is posted at NatashaMarcus.com.
Should North Carolina legalize mobile sports betting? The sports industry and a majority of sports fans support the legalization of sports gambling, so it should be legal. It will generate revenue for our state that should be used to improve life for our residents, particularly public education. Safeguards should be included to avoid under-age gambling and discourage addiction.
Should the legislature give Charlotte the authority to ask voters for a sales tax increase referendum for transit? It should be up to the citizens here, not the folks in Raleigh who don’t represent us, to make the decision. But a better idea is to have the entire region that stands to benefit from investments in transit make the decision about whether to support it. Any sales tax increase should be voted on and borne not just by Charlotte/Mecklenburg, but also by the neighboring counties who want mass transit options. In addition, in order for me to support it, the transit plan will have to include better options for North Mecklenburg, which got saddled with a bad deal last time around -- the unfair, for-profit, poorly-designed, foreign-owned toll lanes.
Rachel Hunt (D)
What is the top priority for your district? Public education has always been a top priority of mine. I’m currently serving my second term in the North Carolina House of Representatives, where I’ve earned the reputation as an advocate for common-sense solutions to the challenges facing our public schools, health care and local economy. As a lifelong education advocate, I believe that we should make efforts to improve public education through bipartisan legislation. For example, we can raise teacher pay to address the issue of teacher retention or invest in early childhood education programs like making pre-K and childcare programs more affordable.
Are you in favor of Medicaid expansion? Yes, I support expanding Medicaid in North Carolina. I believe that it would make our healthcare system more equitable as medicaid expansion would bring healthcare to over 600,000 North Carolinians.
What is your position on abortion? I believe that there should be fewer restrictions on abortion because the government should not have control over what someone can and cannot do with their bodily autonomy. Abortion is a personal choice that should be left to the woman and her doctor.
Should North Carolina legalize mobile sports betting? While I would support legalization of sport gambling, I would only support this legislation with the right measures in place to ensure that it is used to help improve our state’s infrastructure and education. I believe that the General Assembly can work together to pass common-sense legislation regarding sports gambling in a bipartisan manner.
Should the legislature give Charlotte the authority to ask voters for a sales tax increase referendum for transit? Yes, the legislature should allow voters the most opportunities possible to make decisions about their own community. The voters of Charlotte deserve an opportunity to invest in the transit system of their community.
Cheryl Russo (R)
Did not respond to Channel 9′s questions.
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