Terry Van Duyn (I), Democrat
Place of residence: Biltmore Forest
Occupation: Retired system programmer
Political experience: One year appointed State Senator; one term elected State Senator; N.C. Senate Democratic Whip
Endorsements: AFL-CIO; Equality NC (recipient of 2016 Legislator of the Year Award); League of Conservation Voters (recipient of 2015 Green Tie Award); Lillian’s List (recipient of 2016 Courage Award); National Organization for Women (NOW); N.C. Association of Educators; N.C. Police Benevolent Association; Planned Parenthood; Sierra Club
Amount of money raised: $132,000
Top three donors and amount contributed: Lauren Drey; Lillian’s List; Dr. George DeCherney
Why are you running?
I moved to Asheville in 1992, when my son was in third-grade. He had always struggled in school, but it was not until we moved to North Carolina that we understood why. In spite of all the medical and educational assessments we had done in other states, it took a Buncombe County third grade teacher to diagnose his autism. Back then, we led the nation in awareness of autism, because of a commitment made by the General Assembly to help children like my son. Good public policy changes lives. I am very grateful for what that teacher did and want every child in North Carolina to have the same opportunities. Serving in public office is my way of giving back.
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?
Duke University and Common Cause NC partnered this year to demonstrate what congressional districts might look like if they were drawn by an independent panel. Ten retired judges, five Republicans and five Democrats, put aside ideology and drew districts that were compact and fair. I think an independent panel would draw districts that more accurately reflect the people of North Carolina.
Are you in favor of using economic development incentives? If so, what kind? If not, why?
Economic incentives are a fact of life. North Carolina simply will not be considered for investment by private corporations without them. But incentives cannot be merely handouts, they need to be tied to quality job creation, and they need to be targeted at good-paying, sustainable jobs. Businesses that receive incentives must be held accountable for job loss and unemployment costs if things don’t turn out as predicted.
Is HB2 protecting the residents of your district? Why or why not?
No. HB2 is hurting residents of my district. It hurts our LGBT neighbors and family members because it denies them protection from discrimination in employment or accommodation. HB2 makes it legal to fire someone from a job, refuse them a meal in a restaurant or deny them an apartment because of who they are or who they love. That is not right. Furthermore, the implication that we need to be protected from our transgender neighbors is discrimination at its very worst: cruel and totally unfounded in fact. HB2 hurts our state. Our reputation across the country, and around the world, as a welcoming, progressive state has been replaced with an image of state-sanctioned bigotry.
Should Asheville City Council elections be held by district? Why or why not? Should it be decided by Raleigh or a city referendum?
There are pros and cons to both approaches: District elections ensure representation for all geographic areas in the city, but at-large elections encourage a citywide perspective. Several North Carolina cities use a hybrid system, where some council members are elected at-large, and some by district. As Asheville continues to grow, I think this will become a more important issue, but one that should be decided by the citizens of Asheville. The people of Asheville know what is best for them.
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?
We know that our population is aging and with that, health care needs will grow. MAHEC, A-B Tech, UNC Asheville and Western Carolina University are all working hard to train the medical professionals we’ll need, but there is still more to do, especially in the area of mental and behavioral health. One issue unique to Western North Carolina is our challenging payer mix: 70-75 percent of patients are uninsured or on Medicare or Medicaid. It is impossible to fund the job needs we already have. Taking the Medicaid expansion would provide an immediate influx of federal dollars to help pay for these jobs (and help make our community healthier). The North Carolina legislature needs to put politics aside and expand Medicaid.
What state-run service needs the most improvement and how would you address it?
Although we have made strides with respect to teacher pay, we have a long way to go to fund our schools adequately. Our children still don’t have textbooks or supplies, and teachers still feel disrespected, partly because our salaries have not kept up with neighboring states and partly because our pay schemes have pitted new teachers against experienced teachers. We need to make education the priority it was before the recession and return funding to pre-recession levels before cutting corporate taxes any further or divert any more funds into private schools.
What is the most important issue facing the state and how do you plan on addressing it?
Gov. McCrory talks about the Carolina Comeback, but too many North Carolinians have no idea what he’s talking about. Their wages have stagnated, while the cost of living has risen. We need to start making the kinds of investments in education and infrastructure that will support good-paying jobs so everyone, not just the wealthy, can look forward to a prosperous future.
How do you represent a constituency with varied political ideologies?
I think the key is humility, recognizing that there is always more than one way to look at a problem, more than one group that will be impacted and that solutions need to come from cooperation with all sides. I know I need to listen to, and cultivate, as many viewpoints as possible before coming to a decision.
What makes you the most qualified candidate for this position?
I still have a lot to learn, but I want to serve everyone in my district, and I’ll work hard to make sure everyone has a voice. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to respond to your questions.