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The Political Beat Candidate Guide: Gaston County primary elections

The Political Beat

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — On March 5, residents in Gaston County will cast their votes in North Carolina’s 2024 primary election.

The Political Beat Team sent a series of questions to Democrat and Republican candidates, here are their unedited answers.

NC Congressional 14

Pamela Genat (D)

What is your occupation?-Nurse, Veteran, and Small Business Owner

Why are you running?-Growing up, money was tight, but I learned two important values from my parents: help your neighbor and always work hard. We need someone to stand up to the career politicians in Washington and speak for all of us here in District 14. Yes, this is a gerrymandered district, created by and for Speaker Tim Moore to divide up. But it isn’t rural vs urban, it’s rural and urban. Together we can work to move our district forward and begin to build what will return us to fair representation in the US House.

What is the most important issue in your district and how do you plan to address it?-Eliminating voter suppression laws, including gerrymandering, restrictions at the ballot box, and ongoing limitations on early and absentee voting.

No one passes any legislation alone in Washington, especially in these challenging times. It starts with building relationships and a network with all members of Congress. Being willing to come to the table knowing that one person will not get all of what they want but realizing that progress can be made, and some progress is better for the American people than none.

We must protect our constitutional right to vote, increase transparency in our political system, and continue to ensure the security of our elections. Overturning the SCOTUS decision on Citizens United and reaffirming that only people are people under the US Constitution, would go a long way to securing our electoral process from the impact of inequality in our nation. Specifics include:

  • Pass the Redistricting Reform Act to provide for independent commissions encouraging transparency to draw district lines.
  • Make Election Day a federal holiday.
  • Expand vote-by-mail and in-person Early Voting
  • Automatically register every 18-year-old citizen to vote.
  • Penalize states and localities that restrict access to polling places.
  • Restore voting rights nationwide to former felons who have served their prison sentences.

What role, if any, should the United States have in the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas conflicts?-There are no easy answers in either conflict. Our elected officials in Washington have so much more information from security and intelligence briefings available to them. They need to be in constant conversation with the people on the ground in these conflicts and must balance all of this against what is in the best interest of our citizens and the national security of the United States.

We must put people first. Our Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” If we believe this to be true, it must extend beyond our own borders. We must stand on our values, increase diplomatic efforts, push ceasefires where needed and support where warranted, and work to bring stakeholders to the table in a multinational effort.

This is why your vote is so important. We’ve only a glimpse of what is going on during any conflict. We must know that our government reflects all of us, represents all of us and works for all of us. So be mindful of your vote.

How should Congress address the issue of immigration at the U.S. border?

  • The Federal Government has purview over immigration, and in Congress I will:
  • Work to reform the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to improve oversight, ensuring they carry out their duties with competence and humanity.
  • Focus resources on detaining and deporting those individuals who pose a violent threat to public safety.
  • Promote the closure of private immigration detention centers that focus on corporate profits.
  • Increase staffing, including judges, to clear the backlog of immigration court cases.
  • Work with Mexico and Central American nations to ease the conditions leading to so many migrants.

What sets you apart from your opponent?-I was the Burke County Democratic Party Chairman for six years. Before that I was the BCDP treasurer and sat on the State Executive Committee. In 2022 I ran for Congress in what was then District 10. I continue to train candidates, support auxiliaries, and work with county parties to fight for every vote in our Democracy. We have built a network of volunteers and supporters who believe in this fight.

With the same American values of community service and hard work I learned from my mom and dad, I will represent this newly drawn district with compassion, integrity, and reason.

I am no stranger to public service, as a nurse and a United States Army officer, serving during Operation Desert Storm, I have learned to commit to a mission and see it through to completion.

With my network of connections that spans North Carolina, the volunteers, and supporters, we have what it takes to move this gerrymandered District 14 together.

Brendan K. Maginnis (D)

What is your occupation?-Stay-at-home father and former business owner

Why are you running?-North Carolinians are struggling. It’s hard to put food on the table, gas in the tank, and presents under the tree. There are international conflicts afar that threaten our national security at home. We have an opioid crisis and unresolved immigration issues. We need leaders who can cut through the partisan divide, speak the same language of people across diverse backgrounds, and get things done to help all of them, because we’ve been witness to the results of inaction by the political elites, who draw their own districts to consolidate power and line their pockets to enrich themselves. My parents worked 2 jobs each, so I understand what it means to just get by. I was a business owner, so I know how a government can both help and hurt a business. I’m a stay-at-home dad, supporting my wife in her career, so I understand the struggles women in the workforce face, whether it’s pay inequality or the high cost of childcare. The good people of the 14th district want a candidate who understands their struggles and dreams, someone who truly represents them. They deserve a Representative with honesty, integrity, and who believes in family values. I’m that candidate.

What is the most important issue in your district and how do you plan to address it?-In one word: Jobs. How can I help bring more, good-paying jobs to my district. I’ll aggressively pursue any possibilities for direct federal investment in the district and direct funds to improve infrastructure in my district to help and attract those companies who rely heavily on good infrastructure. I’ll also look to pass legislation on the federal level to counteract legislation recently passed on the state level that has had negative repercussions for employers looking to create new jobs, and those looking to bring more jobs to North Carolina and here to the 14th district.

What role, if any, should the United States have in the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas conflicts?-Israel-Hamas is an internal conflict so the US role should be minimal, with a few exceptions including helping with conflict resolution or enforcing violations of international human rights. Russia-Ukraine, despite what Russia may claim, is an external conflict, as Ukraine was a separate nation, despite its history being intertwined with Russia. The US should take an active role in external conflicts when the victim of aggression is an ally. In the case of Russia, we continue to see their expansionist goals outside their previous borders. Expanding into NATO and ally countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union is not out of the realm of possibilities, which is why stopping their aggression now is critical to the security of our partners and our own national security. US involvement in this case should be firm and resolute.

How should Congress address the issue of immigration at the U.S. border?-Our immigration system is broken because we have a Republican party who views it merely as an issue to campaign on. Border protection should be fully funded. Additional federal dollars should be dedicated for facilities to hold immigrants and provide additional resources for the judicial systems that determine legal immigration and asylum. However, these only treat the effect and not the cause. Most immigrants (particularly from Central America) are fleeing their countries due to the instabilities caused by US interference going back to the 70s and 80s. To stem the flow of immigration, we must use both diplomacy and economic incentives to stabilize those Central American countries, so their citizens won’t flee due to concerns around safety or poverty. To that end we should incentivize US companies to move their jobs back from overseas to the US (and our Americas partners), with high wage manufacturing jobs returning to the US and lower-wage jobs going to Central America. If those countries have stable governments, high public safety, and economic stability, then the flow of immigrants will drastically decrease as they choose to pursue their dreams in their beloved homelands, while returning manufacturing jobs to the US.

What sets you apart from your opponent?-We all understand the issues Americans are facing today. But it takes more than identifying those issues to resolve them. I’m the candidate that is creating new solutions for these old problems, looking for ways to resolve the underlying causes creating these issues rather than just putting a bandage over the effects that these problems cause. We’ve all been witness to the chaos and inaction that comes from a Republican-controlled US House so there’s no reason to believe that a lifelong politician like Speaker Moore, who’s spent his career enriching himself through his elected office, will bring anything different than more chaos and more inaction. Despite hand-drawing a district in his favor, Speaker Moore is vulnerable and can be beaten, it’s just going to take the right strategy and the right candidate to execute that strategy. I am that candidate.

Jeff Gregory

Jeff Gregory (R)

What is your occupation? Retired

Why are you running? I am running to serve the people in the 14th district and fight the communist agenda in DC

What is the most important issue in your district and how do you plan to address it? In my district, there is a need for jobs. Doing business with communist countries and giving China favored nation status is wrong and has never been ok. We must find avenues for American jobs in our district and drilling for oil in ND SD Montana and Alaska will ease the burden of businesses in our district and help create new jobs energy cost is the largest cost for the industry.

What role, if any, should the United States have in the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas conflicts? I do not believe we are being told the whole story about Ukraine I feel we should not be sending our tax dollars to Ukraine at this time. We should be securing our own borders. As far as Israel I pray for peace but if war comes I stand with Israel.

How should Congress address the issue of immigration at the U.S. border? Several years back I started to close the border except for commerce until we had the border under control. Today it is a national security issue and should be treated as such.

What sets you apart from your opponent? I am not an opportunist or a career candidate like my opponents

I believe in God Family Country and will serve the people without any self-serving thoughts or actions. The constitution and bible will be my guide and serving the people is my mission.

See the statewide election guide at this link

See more information on voting locations in Rowan County by clicking here.

Lillian Joseph

Lillian Joseph (R)

What is your occupation? BUSINESS OWNER

Why are you running? TO KEEP AMERICA THE #1 SUPERPOWER IN THE WORLD; TO USE MY EXPERIENCE AS A LEADER IN GRASSROOTS WORK WITH CHILDREN AND FAMILIES TO STRENGTHEN OUR NATION. TO FOCUS ON THE NEXT GENERATION’S EDUCATIONAL CAPABILITIES SO THAT WE CAN MAINTAIN A COMPETITIVE EDGE ON THE WORLD STAGE.

What is the most important issue in your district and how do you plan to address it? THE BORDER CRISIS IS THE #1 CONCERN FOR EVERY CONSTITUENT THAT I HAVE SPOKEN TO.

SOLUTIONS:

THOROUGH VETTING OF ASYLUM SEEKERS (STRICT ADHERENCE TO POLICIES THAT RELATE TO THOSE WHO QUALIFY AS ASYLUM SEEKERS), THOROUGH VETTING OF ALL LEGAL IMMIGRANTS, BRINGING THE MILITARY IN TO SUPPLEMENT OUR BORDER PATROL FORCES. CONTINUE BUILDING A WALL – USE LAYERS OF FORTIFICATION. ADDRESS THE 27 WELL-IDENTIFIED GAPS THROUGH WHICH THE MAJORITY OF ILLEGALS COME THROUGH AT THE SOUTHERN BORDER, ADJUDICATING ASYLUM CASES IN MEXICO BEFORE THE INDIVIDUAL SETS FOOT ON AMERICAN SOIL. BRING LEGAL TEAMS TO THE BORDER TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN ADJUDICATIONS, AND TO DETERMINE WHETHER INDIVIDUALS QUALIFY FOR ASYLUM. (IT’S A FACT THAT MOST PEOPLE ASKING FOR ASYLUM AND RECEIVING IT DON’T ACTUALLY QUALIFY.)

What role, if any, should the United States have in the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas conflicts?

SUPPORT FOR CONFLICTS, REGARDLESS OF WHICH ONE, SHOULD ALWAYS BE BASED ON WHAT IS IN THE NATIONAL SECURITY INTEREST OF THE UNITED STATES. WE MUST ALWAYS GAUGE WHETHER THE PARTIES INVOLVED POSE AN IMMEDIATE THREAT TO US, OR AT WHAT POINT DOWN THE LINE DO WE ANTICIPATE A POTENTIAL THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES. AID PROVIDED, WHETHER MILITARY OR FINANCIAL, MUST BE GAUGED AND MADE PROPORTIONAL TO THE FACTORS MENTIONED, OR AS OUTLINED IN ANY TREATY OR LONG-TERM ALLIED PARTNERSHIP THAT THE UNITED STATES HAS WITH THAT PARTY. IN THE CASE OF THE UKRAINE WAR, AFTER TWO YEARS, WE SEE NO IMMEDIATE THREAT THAT RUSSIA HAS POSED TO THE UNITED STATES (AND THERE’S A COMPLETE LACK OF ACCOUNTING/TRANSPARENCY AS TO WHAT HAPPENS TO THE AID ONCE IT IS IN UKRAINIAN HANDS.) THE AMOUNT OF MILITARY AID SHOULD STEADILY BE SCALED BACK. WE SHOULD STILL CONTINUE PROVIDING HUMANITARIAN AID TO THE UKRAINIAN PEOPLE, WITH AN UNDERSTANDING THAT WE RECEIVE A FULL ACCOUNTING OF ALL MONIES DISBURSED TO THE UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT.

IN THE CASE OF OUR LONG-TIME ALLY ISRAEL, WHAT MANY PEOPLE DO NOT UNDERSTAND, IS THAT A LARGE PORTION OF THE “AID” PROVIDED IS DIRECTLY USED BY ISRAEL TO PURCHASE MILITARY EQUIPMENT FROM THE UNITED STATES. SO THE MONEY IS FINDING ITS WAY RIGHT BACK TO THE UNITED STATES. ISRAEL ALSO WORKS IN CONJUNCTION WITH OUR INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES TO KEEP US SAFE FROM THE MANY BAD ACTORS IN THE REGION. AS WE SEE, THE IRANIAN GOVERNMENT, (NOT NECESSARILY THE IRANIAN PEOPLE,) ISRAEL’S SWORN ENEMY, HAS PROVEN TO BE A CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER TO OUR NATIONAL INTERESTS. FOR THIS AND MANY OTHER REASONS, WE SHOULD CONTINUE OUR SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL.

How should Congress address the issue of immigration at the U.S. border? SEE ABOVE, UNDER #1 ISSUE OF CONCERN TO CONSTITUENTS IN DISTRICT 14.

What sets you apart from your opponent? MY STRENGTHS HAPPEN TO ALIGN WITH WHAT OUR COMMUNITY AND NATION NEEDS AT THIS TIME. THIS IS: THE INTERNAL SOCIAL STABILIZATION AND TO CONTINUE THE AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE WHICH MADE US INTO THIS GREAT NATION. I AM NOT A CAREER POLITICAN. I HAVE SPENT MY CAREER, 32 YEARS, WORKING IN TRENCHES: IN THE NON-PROFIT WORLD AND IN THE NORTH CAROLINA COURTS, HELPING DRUG ADDICTS, GIVING ABUSED CHILDREN A VOICE IN COURT, FIGHTING LAWYERS AND JUDGES WHO WANT TO TAKE THE EASY WAY OUT AND LEAVE CHILDREN IN THE HANDS OF THEIR ABUSERS. I ALSO EMBODY A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE WHICH I GAINED AS THE DAUGHTER OF CHRISTIAN CAREER MISSIONARIES WHO LIVED AND WORKED AS SERVANT LEADERS IN A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY. I HAVE WITNESSED FIRST-HAND, THE DEVASTATION AND ABSOLUTE TYRANNY BROUGHT ON BY SOCIALISM AND RAMPANT SECULARISM AND I AM VEHEMENTLY OPPOSED TO THIS HAPPENING TO AMERICA.


Tim Moore

Tim Moore (R)

What is your occupation?-Attorney

Why are you running?-I am running for Congress because I want to bring the same success and conservative leadership we have in North Carolina to Washington. We have proven that conservative policies such as passing a balanced budget, cutting taxes, outlawing sanctuary cities, and ensuring that voter ID is the law of the land has worked in North Carolina.

What is the most important issue in your district and how do you plan to address it? Securing our southern border is the most important issue. Joe Biden’s terrible policies are putting our citizens and communities at risk. I will work to restore the strong border policies that were in place under President Trump and ensure that law enforcement cooperates with ICE like we have done in North Carolina.

What role, if any, should the United States have in the Ukraine-Russia and Israel-Hamas conflicts? The United States should support our allies and stand strong against terrorism and the evil forces who seek to destroy our democratic allies.

How should Congress address the issue of immigration at the U.S. border? Congress should address the issue of immigration by securing the southern border and by ensuring our border agents have the resources necessary to combat the rampant illegal immigration the current president has allowed.

What sets you apart from your opponent? I am a lifelong resident of the district and I am the only candidate with a record of passing conservative legislation.

NC House District 110

Kelly Hastings

Kelly Hastings (R)

What is your occupation?-Realtor

Why are you running?-I am running to continue to fight against crime and illegal immigration/migration, higher insurance rates, higher property taxes, harmful inflation, men trying to compete in women’s sports, and other issues that harm the people of the United States and North Carolina; I support lower taxes, school choice, student learning, economic and energy security, peace through strength via a strong National Guard, election integrity and voter IDs, lower utility rates, balanced budgets, fiscally conservative spending, Congressional term limits, Second Amendment rights, life, broadband and infrastructure improvements, and other common-sense principles.

What is the most important issue you want to tackle in your district and how will you address it?-One of the most prominent issues in the district I represent is economic security. I voted to cut taxes by billions of dollars, and I voted for regulatory and tort reform, and we led on other prominent issues such as transportation prioritization, student learning at all levels of education, capital investments, and other important issues that help attract and maintain great careers.

Should North Carolina legalize casinos?-I requested that gambling expansion not be included in last year’s state budget. I had to help my dad during a medical procedure, and I had an excused absence during last year’s budget vote.

What if any reforms should be made to North Carolina’s alcohol laws?-I was a primary sponsor of Laura’s Law, and that law is intended to crack down on habitual drunk drivers; I support stiffer penalties for DWI and habitual DWI offenders.

Esther Scott

Esther Scott (R)

What is your occupation?-Tax Preparer

Why are you running?-I have two reasons for running. Our state would benefit from a strong constitutionalist in office who concentrates on the Rule of Law and the Bill of Rights. Second, I want the youth in my life, my nieces, nephews, and children of my friends, see women on the ballot and know they too can run for office and make a difference. Politics is about giving a voice.

What is the most important issue you want to tackle in your district and how will you address it?-Wage inequality needs to be addressed. The simplest method is introducing legislation increasing the minimum wage, and more importantly, tipped the minimum wage. When tipped minimum wage was first introduced, it was 50% of normal minimum wage but has become stuck at $2.13 since 1991. Should a minimum wage increase bill fail, other solutions will need to be explored to protect our hard-working NC citizens and small businesses.

Should North Carolina legalize casinos?-While casinos provide a cash-cow, at the same time, they depress the area they are in, hurting the local job market and damaging families. I have lived in several states which have legalized casinos and seen the destruction they hide behind their shiny facades.

Did not respond: Jefferson Griffin (R), Martin Moore (D), Christopher A. Freeman (R)

See the statewide election guide at this link

See more information on voting locations in Gaston County by clicking here.

(WATCH BELOW: ‘More aggressive’: Gaston County DA holds parents accountable when children are exposed to drugs)