Name: Tom Apodaca
Occupation: Entrepreneur, business owner
Party affiliation, if any: Republican
Political experience: Eight years in N.C. Senate
Endorsements: Asheville Citizen-Times, N.C. Chamber of Commerce, N.C. Green Industry Council, NRA
1) How much money have you raised for your campaign?
I've raised over $100,000 for the campaign and given the vast majority of it to other Republicans running for the Senate hoping to win a majority.
Who are your top three donors, and how much has each contributed?
Don't keep track of this; that information is publicly reported. I recently received Democracy North Carolina's "Sunshine Award" for our campaign's detailed, accessible reporting.
2) What most distinguishes you from your opponent?
We're running a positive campaign, so I can only speak about myself. I'm a small-business man from Hendersonville who's committed to being an effective, independent voice for Western North Carolina. I've created jobs and met a payroll; I've also had to lay people off at times. It's a big responsibility.
3) What are your top three legislative priorities?
• Economic growth;
• a balanced state budget which reflects our values;
• better schools.
4) Do you support authorizing Asheville to raise its hotel-room tax?
I'd first like to talk with the city of Asheville, the tourism community and my constituents about that issue.
5) What methods do you favor for dealing with the state budget crunch, and how would they affect the Asheville area?
We're facing a $3 billion-plus deficit in the coming year. Tough decisions will have to be made, but we've got to live within our means.
6) Do you favor changing state law governing involuntary annexation? If so, how?
Yes. I strongly believe that citizens who are the targets of annexation should be able to make that decision through a popular vote.
7) North Carolina had more people on its AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list last year than all other states combined. Do you favor fully funding this program?
I would like to see performance-based budgeting in state government, so we can reduce or eliminate those programs which are of limited benefit and then fully support efforts like ADAP, which help people in need.
8) What's your position on legalizing medical marijuana?
The experience of other states suggests it would be very difficult to enforce and easy to abuse. There are better ways to help people in pain.
9) Do you favor providing benefits for same-sex domestic partners of state employees? Why or why not?
Given the depth of our state's budget problems, I think this is the wrong time to expand state-employee benefits.
10) Do you support state assistance to local municipalities in financial trouble? If so, in what form?
What the state government needs to do is curtail the practice of imposing unfunded mandates on municipal governments, much as the federal government does to the states.