Residence: North Asheville
Occupation: public-school teacher
Education: B.A. history, UNCA; M.S. Scottish history, Univ. of Edinburgh; M.A. constitutional studies, ASU
Political experience: activist and campaign volunteer in Buncombe County off and on since 1996; Democratic precinct officer and chairman since 2002; chairman, Buncombe County Young Democrats, 2002-05; Democratic nominee for N.C. House, 2004 and 2006
1. What was the best piece of legislation the General Assembly passed last session? Why?
The budget. Among other timely investments, it included long-overdue pay raises for our public-school teachers and other state employees. In order to attract and retain the best quality teachers for our public-school classrooms, these types of investments are absolutely essential.
2. What was the worst piece of legislation? Why?
The lottery. I have always been skeptical, but I was truly dismayed to see its implementation. While it does provide some new revenue for the schools, these dollars too often supplant current state or local spending and are not shared fairly across the state.
3. What would be your top three legislative priorities?
• Guaranteed access to affordable health-care coverage for all North Carolinians
• Property-tax reform for high-growth counties
• Do-not-call reform (my plan would ad political robo-calls to the class of telemarketing calls currently prohibited under N.C.’s do-not-call statute
4. Should our local legislative delegation have sponsored Sullivan Acts II and III in 2005? Why?
This step was taken as a last resort to protect county customers when it appeared that an agreement between the city and county could not be reached. I see these as temporary measures until a new, more equitable agreement that ensures fairness for city and county customers can be reached.
5. What’s your stance on capital punishment?
While I am not philosophically opposed to capital punishment, I do support a limited death-penalty moratorium, during which time our judicial processes and their outcomes in capital cases should be closely reviewed.
6. What most distinguishes you from your opponent?
I am the father of a real, working family who can relate to the concerns of real people. I am a teacher who understands the challenges our students face. I will be a member of the majority … and have specific proposals for improving the lives of our people.
7. What reforms are most needed in state politics?
I would like to see some genuine redistricting reform, additional work on real ethics reforms, and campaign-finance reforms that would help the people of our state to reassert their control over our state government.
8. What’s your position on the proposed passenger-rail service between Raleigh and Western North Carolina?
I am all for it.
9. Would you support state funding for renovating or rebuilding the Asheville Civic Center? Why or why not?
Of course. I think the state has a definite interest in partnering with the city and county in this and many other endeavors. Cooperation of this kind can and will open all kinds of doors to innovative economic development in Asheville.
10. Name three state budget areas or items that should be reduced and three that should be increased.
Reduced: the regressive gasoline tax; state incentives or subsidies to industries that pollute; discretionary funds controlled by individual state-government officials
Increased: student loans, scholarships and work-study programs; trust funds like the Land for Tomorrow fund; expanded prescription-drug program that would protect our seniors from coverage gaps