Residence: West Asheville
Education: B.A. Univ. of Maryland; also attended Mars Hill College
Political experience: N.C. House 2003-present; Asheville School Board, 8 years total, 4 as chair; former president, Asheville-Buncombe League of Women Voters
1. What was the best piece of legislation the General Assembly passed last session?
I am very proud of the tax credit we created for small businesses that provide health insurance to their employees. This is a great example of a “win-win” solution: It helps working people access health care, supports small businesses, and encourages preventative care, which saves money in the long run.
2. What was the worst piece of legislation? Why?
This is a hard question, because the Democrats in the N.C. House accomplished everything we set out to do in the session. We raised the minimum wage, increased access to health care, gave public-school teachers a much-needed raise, and got education funded at the highest level in N.C. history.
3. What would be your three top legislative priorities?
• My top priority is quality public education: Education is the foundation of everything else we want to accomplish
• I will keep working for strong local economies, supporting clean, local small businesses that pay living wages
• And I will continue to advocate for strong environmental legislation to protect our mountains
4. Should our local legislative delegation have sponsored Sullivan Acts II and III in 2005? Why?
No. I made a mistake as a rookie legislator in putting my name on that legislation. In the future, I will not sponsor any legislation that involves the city and the county unless the city and the county have been able to work together and are on the same page.
5. What’s your stance on capital punishment?
I oppose the death penalty. In addition, I have supported the Innocence Commission and would support a moratorium on the death penalty in North Carolina.
6. What most distinguishes you from your opponent?
I support a living wage, and funding for childcare, health care and affordable housing. My opponent says assisting children and the elderly should be left to churches and charities, and opposes government action on housing and wages. My opponent supports Bush and Republican policies; I believe we can do better.
7. What reforms are most needed in state politics?
I hope we can continue to promote clean, voter-owned elections and ethical government. I am proud of the campaign-finance and ethics reforms passed this year: I helped write and voted for the strongest ethics legislation in the history of our state. I welcome suggestions from constituents for further reform.
8. What’s your position on the proposed passenger-rail service between Raleigh and Western North Carolina?
I support mass transit as a way to reduce our impact on the environment, and I will advocate for clean transit whenever possible. I also support clean-cars legislation and action on the energy-independence and global-warming study bills, including increased efficiency and alternative energy sources.
9. Would you support state funding for renovating or rebuilding the Asheville Civic Center? Why or why not?
When the city and county finalize their goals for the Civic Center, the state could definitely play a role. We won’t know exactly what that might look like before local decision-making is complete. But as we did with flood-relief funding, our delegation can help access state support when appropriate.
10. Name three state budget areas or items that should be reduced and three that should be increased.
We should prioritize education (dedicated funding, not supplanted by lottery funds), increasing access to health care (including a high-risk pool), and strengthening local economies. I would favor less funding for incentives to entice big corporations to move here, and instead support investing in small, locally based, clean and environmentally sustainable businesses.