The Issues

JOBS AND THE ECONOMY

My belief in rebuilding our economy is built on the premise that our education and business systems are intimately tied together. Our public and private sectors can and will work together if we create the right environment for partnership and cooperation. To have economic growth, we must invest in our public schools, community colleges, and university system in order to create a more robust stream of talent to fuel 21st century jobs.

In order to create jobs in North Carolina and move our economy into the 21st century, we need to be deliberate about the choices we make regarding our economy. In order to attract and retain jobs right here in North Carolina, we need to be investing in the educational programs that provide the necessary skills for the changing demands of our workforce. This needs to be combined with a fresh approach to economic development.

As your state senator, I will work to support policies and a strategy that spurs economic growth by targeting and attracting companies in growth industries. By using this approach, we can be open to new and emerging sectors in our economy. We also must target companies that supply products to companies who are already here. By marketing our district’s strengths such as available land, water, workforce training and community colleges we can attract companies to our communities. We also need to expand and improve regional partnerships among our cities and counties to help foster economic development.  In doing so, we need to create the right incentive structure that will not only attract new businesses, but sustain our economy in a healthy and productive manner by helping existing businesses expand and create jobs. By bringing together leaders in business, industry, education, and government we can find the types of industries that will thrive in our state and in turn sustain our economy for years to come.

 

EDUCATION

Our State’s Constitution guarantees every child in North Carolina a sound education offered through our public schools. We can’t improve schools when the legislature is arbitrarily cutting education budgets and slashing the professional development of the teachers that are left. Slashing textbook programs, vital research programs, and increasing classroom sizes are a few of the results of the massive cuts to education last year.

In order to attract businesses and help existing companies, we need to make sure that our citizens have the appropriate workforce training necessary to perform high-tech, high-wage jobs. Workforce training will get the unemployed working now and keep unemployment down in the future. Workforce training will bring together our community colleges and businesses to provide the professional and vocational training needed to boost our economy.  Expanding vocational training to our public schools and community colleges is an essential way to spur job growth.  Lower dropout rates, increased graduation rates, and better job prospects will all be a result of a comprehensive economic development initiative  which is committed to education.

I will be a champion for early education, our public schools, our community colleges and our university system to give more people and our state a better shot at economic prosperity over future decades. Good jobs start with great schools.

 

EARLY EDUCATION

It’s no secret that having a great start in your early years can significantly help our young people grow into successful adults. I know many children arrive at the kindergarten door completely unprepared. They have language and social skill deficits from which they will never recover.  It should not be this way. We know early education works. It closes achievement gaps and boosts the chances of graduation and better lives for struggling children.

Pre-kindergarten in this state has been successful. It is an education reform that is producing lasting gains and saving the state many times the initial investment.  I support the expansion of pre-k to all those children who, through no fault of their own, need this educational experience.

We also need to consider restoring funds to our state’s Smart Start Program. Smart Start funds a wide range of activities in child care quality, family support, health and literacy for children prenatal until they go to school. Since Pre-Kindergarten funds childcare for 4 year-olds only, Smart Start services start earlier in children’s lives preparing them to succeed in Kindergarten. We have to  put a system in place that measures success so we know these funds are well invested. There are approximately 2,000 days between birth and Kindergarten so it’s important to start early preparing vulnerable children so they can have a chance to succeed.

 

K-12 SCHOOLS

As State Senator, I will advocate for improved resources in the public school classroom. It’s vital we ensure teaching once again becomes an attractive and respected profession. We must support teachers so we can get the best and the brightest working in the classroom. Great teachers are the foundation of great public schools. The attacks on the teaching profession must end.

I will advocate education policies that give our local school systems greater flexibility and encourage innovative approaches to teaching and learning. But with greater flexibility and independence must come improved accountability. I will expect a proper return on our investment — holding school systems, administrators and educators responsible for their performance.

I will be a voice for those in low wealth counties who need an advocate for the resources necessary to deliver the education required to give children a shot at success.

 

COMMUNITY COLLEGES

As a former community college student and trustee, I know firsthand that we must invest in our community college system to get North Carolina moving again. As a state, we must make a commitment to funding our community college at a competitive level. This means properly funding technological equipment needs that boost the educational experience and parallel what graduates will see in the workplace.

Jobs in healthcare, life sciences, computers, and green technology are the jobs to get our economy moving. We must fund our community colleges properly in order to jumpstart our economy by providing our citizens with the skills needed to perform today’s job requirements.

As State Senator I will promote a fresh and comprehensive approach to work force training that equips today’s employees with the skills they need to compete for employment in today’s growth industries. I will work to improve access to relevant work force training programs for displaced employees. We must have work force training programs that look at the growing jobs of the 21st century economy and gear those programs to that market, all while getting people back to work right away.

 

NORTH CAROLINA’S UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES

The success of North Carolina’s economy has always been built on our colleges and universities. They are the lifeblood to innovation and ingenuity.  Engineering, technology, life sciences, and liberal arts alike all add value to the quality of life for our state.  We must be supportive of funding our university system and the research and innovation that they bring in order to demonstrate we are serious about creating a world class economy and be competitive against other states.

As your State Senator, I will fight to ensure that our colleges and universities are funded at a level that will deliver a world-class workforce and a world-class economy.

 

ENVIRONMENT

Growing up in Richmond County, I have always cherished North Carolina’s range of environmental beauty, from the beaches to the mountains.  It is imperative that we protect our natural resources while working with our private industries and companies to ensure we can provide growth and a sustainable economy.

As State Senator, I will advocate for policies that will bring new jobs and economic opportunities to the state. I will support new energy policies for wind and offshore exploration if environmental and economic impact studies show the policies will be safe, create new jobs and provide a new stream of revenue for the State of North Carolina.

I will advocate policies that provide incentives for individual, corporate and government participation in conservation and recycling.

I believe we can be forward thinking, that we can protect our natural resources and beauty and have a strong, growing economy.

 

TRANSPORTATION

North Carolina needs a comprehensive approach to transportation.

We need to grow an efficient system that puts the dollars where the traffic is. We need a transportation system that offers users better and more available choices in order to ease congestion, improve access to jobs and services and keep our economy moving.

Let’s work together with state, county and local leaders to solve our transportation needs and funding.

 

OPEN AND TRANSPARENT GOVERNMENT

Too many decisions in the North Carolina General Assembly are made behind closed doors. We must open up our state budget process to allow more input from the public and more participation from all legislators, regardless of party affiliation. Unfortunately, both parties have contributed to a culture in Raleigh that puts politics ahead of people. We must change and be more open with decisions about spending taxpayer money. Our citizens deserve better. I will fight for more openness and transparency in state government.