Susan Fisher (I), Democrat, running unopposed
Place of residence: West Asheville
Political experience: Running for seventh term N.C. House District 114
Endorsements: League of Conservation Voters; Sierra Club; NOW; SEIU/Labor Unions; N.C. Association of Educators; Equality NC; State Employees Association of N.C.; N.C. Credit Union PAC; New Belgium PAC; N.C. Realtors PAC; Advocates for Justice PAC
Amount of money raised: approx. $50,000
Top three donors and amount contributed: Mack Pearsall, $5,100; Chris Harjes, $2,000; Revs. Robert and Jeanette Reese, $1,000
Why are you running?
Ever since I worked in the Washington, D.C., office of first-term Congressman Jamie Clarke from Buncombe’s 11th District, my goal has been to work in public service. I am seeking a seventh term in the N.C. House to continue that work, and to get North Carolina back on track after a period of extreme partisan division.
Federal judges have deemed a number of North Carolina’s House and Senate districts illegal. How would you propose districts be drawn so that they are fair?
I co-sponsored the bill that would create a nonpartisan redistricting commission in North Carolina. The bill passed with bipartisan support in the House, but the Senate refused to take it up. This would be the best approach to making sure that the electorate gets to choose its politicians, instead of the politicians choosing their electorate.
Are you in favor of using economic development incentives? If so, what kind? If not, why?
Economic development incentives can be useful tools, although with the passage of HB2 in our state, we have seen that it doesn’t matter how much in the form of dollar incentives may be available to lure new business. If our state’s policy is to condone discrimination of all kinds, business tends to go elsewhere.
Is HB2 protecting the residents of your district? Why or why not?
When North Carolina already has laws on the books to protect our residents from the kinds of things the proponents of HB2 claim it will do, then no. I believe HB2 does more to put the residents of my district in danger, since HB2 condones, and makes legal, all forms of discrimination.
Should Asheville City Council elections be held by district? Why or why not? Should it be decided by Raleigh or a city referendum?
In general, I believe as Thomas Jefferson is so often quoted, that government that governs least governs best. There may come a time when Asheville City Council elections need to be held by district for reasons of population size or to bring a balance of representation by area of the city. I believe that over the last six years, we have witnessed so much intrusion into the affairs of local government by the folks in Raleigh that representatives on both sides of the aisle have grown weary of watching their constituents be bullied into doing what Raleigh prescribes as best for their local system of governance. The citizens of Asheville should decide, and I believe that local government should act to respond effectively to that decision.
What is an underrated, underfunded economic engine that could help attract jobs to Western North Carolina outside of the service and tourism industries? And how would you recommend utilizing this untapped potential?
From just a practical standpoint, the refusal by our current governor to expand Medicaid in North Carolina resulted in the forfeiture of tax dollars ($40 billion plus for N.C.) already paid by the citizens of this state to the federal government, which in turn resulted in loss of jobs in many areas, not the least of which has been the health care industry. Or, how about funding our public schools? There’s an underrated, underfunded economic engine that is currently being starved out of existence.
What state-run service needs the most improvement and how would you address it?
One area of state service that has undergone the most technical change is in the Department of Health and Human Services. The changes the department has undergone as they move away from an outdated computer system have resulted in a lot of delays, questions and confusion on the part of the people that they serve. I believe that as issues arise, there needs to be a one-stop clearinghouse for responding to questions and an easy and reliable way for the users of the system to find answers so that there is no delay in getting clients the services that they need.
What is the most important issue facing the state and how do you plan on addressing it?
There are many issues facing North Carolina at the moment, but the most pressing is the need for total and unconditional repeal of HB2. North Carolina has, and continues to, lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, and individuals and companies are refusing to do business here as long as it exists. This backward policy does damage to every aspect of life in North Carolina, from education, to health care, to the kind of quality of life people are looking for in a state that they want to call home.
How do you represent a constituency with varied political ideologies?
My campaign’s tag line is “A leader who listens.” This is what I continue to do in what I am proud to say is a very diverse district. My constituents know that they can count on me to listen and respond to their concerns, no matter what their political leanings happen to be.
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?
The fact that I have the experience from having served locally on the Asheville City Board of Education as a member and chair, and that I have served in the House for 13 years (6.5 terms), most recently as deputy leader of the House Democratic Caucus, and know what it means to work effectively within an atmosphere of extreme difference of opinion, makes me qualified to serve as a consistent and responsive representative for the people in Buncombe District 114.