Incumbent Trudi Walend faces Libertarian hemp activist Jean Marlowe in the newly drawn District 113, which includes all of Polk County, most of Transylvania County and about a third of Henderson County.
Home: Mill Spring, in Polk County
Home: Brevard, in Transylvania County
Mountain Xpress: Do you support a state lottery? Why or why not?
Jean Marlowe: “Yes, I believe that we need a lottery. I believe that the funds should go towards education, but I believe that they should be in addition to state funds.
“I’ve noticed in other states when the lottery was coming that they would start limiting the state funds that would go to the schools. That’s not what I want for North Carolina children. I want the state funds, and then the lottery funds should be in addition. … This should help bring the arts, music and extracurricular activities to a lot of these rural children — [to] rural schools that otherwise would have no means of being able to bring in these type of programs. I think it’s really important for the children, because kids are our future. If we educate them properly, then they’ll be able to take care of us when we get old.” [Laughs.]
Trudi Walend: “I would rather not have a state lottery. I believe the government should not be in the business of promoting gambling. I believe that’s the wrong way to fund education, because it gives children — students — the wrong impression [that] it’s easy to go out and win a good life. And it’s so unlikely to happen for anyone — you have to work hard. It’s not the right vision to put in front of our children.
“I believe if we could educate the public, in future years I might consider [proposing a public referendum on the lottery]. My concern is that it’s hard to have the public learn all the issues around a lottery.”
MX: Studies in other states have shown that for every 10 percent increase in tobacco taxes, the number of young smokers drops by 6 percent, and the number of cigarettes smoked by youth drops by 11 percent. The World Bank says that a 10 percent tax increase has cut the number of smokers by from 4 to 8 percent in every country studied. Given those figures, do you support the North Carolina Senate bill that would increase our state’s cigarette tax by 50 cents?
JM: “Yes. I believe in use taxes. I don’t drink alcohol; I’m deeply, deeply allergic to it — the slight amount that’s in NyQuil will make me violently, violently ill. But if people want to drink alcohol, I feel like there should be a use tax — the same way [that] when I get elected and we get marijuana legal, I think [there] should be a use tax. Do you know how much money this state could make if they had a use tax on cannabis?
“Especially with alcohol and cigarettes — anything that’s detrimental to someone’s health and can eventually cause a burden to the state Medicaid and health-care programs — I feel like [those things] should have an additional use tax to help take care of that [burden created].”
TW: “Not at this time. We have so much wasteful spending — we need to address that first before we go to any new taxes.
“Given a choice of [kinds of] taxes … use taxes seem more reasonable than others. My concern is, for example, the road tax that we pay on gasoline: It’s currently being confiscated for other things besides roads, and our roads are terrible. If we have a use tax, there’s usually a purpose in mind. For example, a tobacco tax should go, in my opinion, [to] help educate youngsters not to smoke, and it might [also] defray some health costs. It should be locked into what we’re going to do with it, because the people who pay it also are going to be the ones who [need the related services].”
MX: Boston is currently spending more than $1 billion to undo the transportation mistakes it has made in recent decades running wider and wider roads through the middle of the city. Can we learn from that city’s problems? Would you prefer to see transportation funds spent on widening highways or on alternative-transportation plans?
JM: “I would like to see alternative-transportation plans, in the cities especially. I would like to see bio-mass fuels [made from organic material such as certain crops] used for city transportation to stop pollution in the cities. It would be very cost-effective, and it would be very easily done — all you have to do is to replace all the hoses on all the diesel buses and stuff in town. All that would have to be done would be that the hoses would have to be replaced with metal instead of rubber.
“You can take the leftover oil that Burger King and Hardee’s and McDonald’s use, and you can use that and run it just like diesel fuel. They just ran a car all the way across this country on nothing but hemp oil; if you run hemp oil in a vehicle, it pollutes five times less than gasoline, it would cost 60 cents at the pump, and it cleans your engine.”
TW: “I just came from a ‘smart growth’ meeting, and they addressed that [same topic]. People there were saying, ‘Yes, some kind of transit system is great, but I want everyone else to use it so the road’s cleaned up for me, and there’s no traffic out there for me.‘
“Everywhere we put alternative transit, it’s not being used; it doesn’t pay for itself. It’s very expensive. We’re not like Europe, where [the cities] put the trains in first; our cities and towns are established.
“In order to have a transit system work, you’ve got to still build huge parking lots with huge roads to go to the parking lots, and then the people have to go there … to catch the transit to [travel] wherever they’re going, and somehow it’s not working well. If you look at cities like Atlanta — and Boston, too — Boston uses that ‘T’ [the MBTA rapid-transit and commuter-train system] more than anything else.”