Occupation: History teacher, Enka High School
Education: B.A. history, UNCA; M.S. Scottish history, Univ. of Edinburgh; M.A. American constitutional studies, ASU
Political experience: Very active Democrat; held several county- and state-level party offices. Worked with many campaigns and candidates (from City Council to president). Institute of Government intern with Lt. Gov. Wicker.
1. Do you support allowing individual municipalities to enact their own campaign-finance reform ordinances?
Yes. I believe in voter-owned elections at every level.
2. Do you believe the state’s ethics law for legislators is adequate? If not, how would you change it?
No. I think that the credibility of our public processes is at stake given recent developments, and that legislators must embrace complete transparency. I would eliminate all gifts from lobbyists and would work for comprehensive campaign-finance reform that would sharply limit the influence of special interests.
3. What’s your position on the proposed passenger-rail service between Raleigh and Western North Carolina?
I think it would be great and look forward to supporting this proposal, but recognize that it faces some some real challenges.
4. Would you support state funding for renovating or rebuilding the Asheville Civic Center? Why or why not?
Yes. I would support state funding for a next-generation civic center/expo center for the Asheville metro area. It’s time that Western North Carolina got its fair share of state spending, and this would be a good start.
5. Do you support a public-funding option for Council of State candidates, similar to the judicial public-financing system approved in 2002? Why?
Yes, absolutely. I support voter-owned elections in general.
6. What do you plan to do to ensure equitable distribution of state lottery funds to WNC?
I have called for a general freeze of all lottery revenues until the current unfair and irresponsible distribution method is corrected. We must have a lottery that creates a real promise for our students, one whose benefits are fairly shared, and one whose revenues do not supplant current education spending.
7. Name three state budget areas or items that should be reduced and
three that should be increased.
Increased: education, investment in quality health-care access for all North Carolinians (including restored funding for mental health), and environmental protection.
Reduced: the huge expense of standardized testing in public schools, tax- and cash-incentive packages to lure out-of-state corporations to North Carolina, pork-barrel projects inserted into the budget by powerful lawmakers.
8. Would you approve additional local-option rooms-and-meals or food-and-beverage taxes for Buncombe County? Under what circumstances?
Yes, if those revenue streams were clearly designated to new and urgent spending priorities that create new opportunities for our people and businesses. We cannot reasonably expect our businesses to accept new taxes unless we can manage the arising revenue in a responsible way.
9. As WNC’s land prices skyrocket, would you support tools — such as the property-transfer tax or inclusionary zoning — to help communities keep housing affordable?
There are a number of ways to keep housing affordable short of methods that would tend to erode property rights. We must keep the rights of our property owners in focus and work to create attractive incentives that would tend to make our community more affordable and livable.
10. What most distinguishes you from your opponents in this primary?
I am a public-school teacher who understands the challenges our schools and students face … a perspective desperately needed in state government. As the father of a working family, I understand how hard it is to make ends meet these days. We need [that] voice … in the General Assembly.