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Meet the Candidates: 2016

Oct 01, 2016 08:30AM ● Published by Jason Huddle

Meet the Candidates

“Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

In this all-important election year, Cabarrus Magazine reached out to political candidates running for

positions that impact our county.

Our approach was a little different this time around, in that questions pertaining to the state of our nation in general were posed, we well as prevailing topics that concern each of us as citizens: terrorism and immigration.

These Q&A sessions make for valuable tools in familiarizing each of us about who will potentially run our state and local government, and our school system, before we place our vote. We’re also providing a website, facebook page or email address so that readers can delve even more deeply into candidates’ goals and convictions.

 


UNITED STATES SENATE

Six-year Term

 

Richard Burr

Age: 60

Party Affiliation: Republican (Incumbent)

www.burr.senate.gov

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Burr: This has been the slowest economic expansion in nearly 70 years. While the unemployment rate appears low, it hides the harsh truth that many Americans are so discouraged that they’ve just given up looking for work. Those Americans who do have jobs are frustrated to watch their paychecks stay the same while their cost of living continues to go up. Over the last eight years, the typical American household has seen their household income shrink by almost $1,700 when you account for inflation.

 

I believe turning our economy around and creating jobs involves several crucial ingredients. First, we must reform the federal income tax system. Our current system is unfair, punishes work and is overly complex. We also need to make it easier – not harder – in America to start a business and to hire and keep workers. That means reining in the regulations that are needlessly hurting our economy and jobs with higher costs and red tape.

 

We need to ensure employers have an educated, competitive workforce from which to draw talent, and that means having better schools and career development opportunities at all levels. It also means making college and day care more affordable so that North Carolinians are able to pursue career opportunities.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our society safer?

Burr: As chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I am briefed regularly on the growing number of terrorist threats to our nation. The threats to America are real, and the enemies we face are unlike any that we have seen. Terrorists have no regard for the rules of war, the nuances of diplomacy or the lives of innocents.

 

The current policy of ‘containing ISIS’ has failed. We must devise and execute a comprehensive strategy that clearly identifies our enemies and the resources required to eliminate their capabilities and intent to attack. We also need to take the fight to where the terrorists recruit and train so that they cannot bring the war to our shores. And we must equip our law enforcement and intelligence community with the tools they need to thwart terrorist plots and keep America safe.

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Burr: While immigration reform is a divisive issue, there are common sense changes that I think we can all agree on. For example, we need to make sure that job vacancies are filled by Americans first, and when farmers and employers cannot fill positions with U.S. citizens, we need to improve the system that allows legal, noncitizen workers to come here to work temporarily. We also need to secure our borders and make sure that those who commit crimes are not able to stay in the United States.

 

We need a legal immigration process that is understandable and consistent – that is the only way we can ensure the legal process for coming to America is followed.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Burr: Ensuring a strong national defense is the federal government’s number one responsibility, and at no other time in our history has the fulfillment of this responsibility been as critical. If re-elected, I will continue working to ensure our military, law enforcement and intelligence professionals have the support, tools and leadership they need to defend us.

 

I have a strong record of reaching across the aisle and delivering real results for North Carolina. In 2013, I worked with senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Angus King (I-ME) to write and pass the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act, a law that has allowed college students to take advantage of today’s low interest rates, saving them $46 billion in student loan costs over the last three years.

 

In 2014, I partnered with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) to pass the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act.  And in 2015, I worked with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) to write and pass legislation that strengthened the National Sex Offender Registry.

 

But my work is far from done. Solving the serious problems we face requires leadership and an ability to work together. As the senator for North Carolina, I will continue working in a bipartisan fashion to restore the strength of our economy, to expand opportunity for all Americans and to keep our country safe.

 

Deborah Ross

Age: 53

Party Affiliation: Democrat

www.deborahross.com

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Ross: For many, the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago during the economic crisis, but even today, far too many North Carolinians work hard but are unable to gain economic security. We need to grow the economy and make sure it works for all of us, not just those with the most money and advantages. To do that, we need to do three important things.

 

First, we need to make sure working people can earn more, and keep more of what they earn. When I was in the State House, I passed legislation to return taxes to working people and voted to raise the minimum wage. That money is then invested back into our economy, which helps us grow jobs and support businesses.

 

Second, we need to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. We can use that money to train workers and invest in companies that create jobs here at home.

 

Third, we need to invest in infrastructure. That’s an issue I worked on in the State House and as an attorney, and one I’ll work on in the U.S. Senate. Our water and sewer systems, roads, bridges and highways are crumbling – and there are parts of this state that don’t have access to the Internet. Improving our infrastructure creates jobs and makes our state more attractive to businesses.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our society safer?

Ross: Nothing is more important to me than keeping our families safe. We need to destroy ISIS where they are, and prevent them from attacking us here at home. This starts with declaring war on them.

 

To defeat ISIS we need to increase the quality and quantity of our air strikes; increase the number of well-armed allies on the ground; and eliminate their finances. To stay ahead of ISIS, we must make sure our law enforcement officers and members of our intelligence community have all the tools they need at their disposal.

 

And, finally, we cannot continue to allow suspected terrorists to buy guns. My opponent has voted against closing this loophole. I will work to keep guns out of the hands of suspected terrorists.

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Ross: Our immigration system is broken, making our country less safe, holding back our nation’s economy and forcing millions to live in the shadows.

 

I support the sensible, bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that passed the Senate with 68 votes more than two years ago. It would have required undocumented immigrants to pay a penalty, pass a background check, learn English and pay taxes. It would have also helped North Carolina’s farmers by ensuring they have a legal, stable and reliable workforce, which is why the North Carolina Farm Bureau supported the bill.

 

In the Senate, I will work to pass tough and fair comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, makes our country safer, grows our economy and offers families an earned path to citizenship.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Ross: Washington is not working for the people of North Carolina and we need a change. I hear it every day from voters I meet on the road.

 

I’ve talked with people who had good jobs, jobs they took pride in. They were tough jobs, but they paid the bills and put food on the table. But then those jobs got shipped overseas or downsized, or their money just doesn’t go as far as it used to.

 

I’ve heard from folks who’ve taken on extra hours to make ends meet, but they’re still living paycheck to paycheck. They aren’t able to keep enough of what they earn.

 

And I’ve met people who have worked hard their whole lives, but are putting off retirement because they don’t know if they or their families can afford it. They don’t know if Social Security will get cut or Medicare will get privatized. And they don’t have the money to take that gamble.

 

And if those hard times weren’t enough on their own, we have politicians who make things worse. They give huge tax cuts to millionaires and special tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs away. They try to give Medicare to insurance companies at the expense of our seniors. And then they turn around and say it will somehow help us.

 

North Carolina deserves better representation. I got into public service because I care about people. As your next U.S. senator, I can promise you that I will put you first. I will work for you and your families. And I will fight every day to make sure that if you work hard and play by the rules, then you’ll have the security and the opportunity to find a job that pays a fair wage, see the doctor when you need to, send your kids to college when they’re grown and save for retirement.

 

Sean Haugh

Age: 56

Party Affiliation: Libertarian

www.seanhaugh.com

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Haugh: The economy is certainly different than it was eight years ago. Prices have risen considerably, while wages stagnate for many people. However, there are many new kinds of jobs that give people more freedom to make money.

 

I want to drastically reduce the size and scope of government so that you can keep more of the money you earn. Currently, all government consumes 38 percent of the Gross Domestic Product. The federal government alone accounts for 22.5 percent. Reducing those excessive numbers means more money is kept by those who earned it, which will improve the quality of life for everyone.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to make our society safer?

Haugh: We must stop all war! Our warfare in the Middle East has destabalized the entire region. One of the main sources of weapons and material for ISIS are those we left behind in Iraq or have been more recently giving to so-called ‘moderate Syrian rebels’ or other allies in the region. More war and more bombing is only making matters worse. We should have noticed by now that we cannot bomb our problems out of existence.

 

This is the main reason I am running for U.S. Senate, to stop this insane and counterproductive war. We can achieve a diplomatic solution that ostracizes ISIS and their allies without continued warfare. We could also do a better job sharing intelligence with our allies to prevent ISIS-inspired attacks in our own countries.

 

With or without international cooperation, the first thing we must do is stop flooding the region with weapons and other military aid, and bring our troops home. War has failed. Only through peace can we find a solution.

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Haugh: Our war is also at the root of the imbalances of immigration. Our war on drugs and our meddling in the affairs of other nations are responsible for a lot of the instability in our neighbors to the south, particularly Mexico and Honduras. If we stopped the war on drugs, we could immediately break the power of the violent Mexican drug cartels and help put Mexico back on the path to peace and prosperity. That would give more people the incentive to build a life for themselves and their families at home.

 

I personally favor open borders. America is enriched and made stronger by immigration, just as my family on both sides came here in the late 19th century. Even so, I do think it is important to recognize we currently have imbalances in the number of people moving to America, and to address the basic reasons why people are so motivated to leave their home countries.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Haugh: Whether I win this election or not, every single vote for me counts. The more votes I receive, the louder the message you are sending to both the Democrats and the Republicans that you want them to be more peaceful, to be more Libertarian.

 

Your ballot is your way to tell the politicians what you want. I give voters the chance to tell our government that we want peace, prosperity and freedom, not more war, more debt and more regulation.

 

 

UNITED STATES CONGRESS – 8th DISTRICT

Two-year Term

 

Richard Hudson

Age: 44

Party Affiliation: Republican (Incumbent)

www.hudson.house.gov

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Hudson: As representative of the Eighth District, my top three priorities are jobs, jobs and jobs. We have a tremendous opportunity to accelerate economic growth, but we have to get several things right and ensure our government creates an economically friendly environment that empowers businesses to grow and hire people. Here are my principles for job and economic growth:

• End Washington’s addiction to spending;

• Get big government out of the way by cutting unnecessary red tape;

• Invest in the American people to get this economy moving.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our society safer?

Hudson: Our government’s first responsibility is to keep Americans safe – and that’s exactly what I’m focused on doing. To this end, my legislation to protect our country from the threat of radical Islamic terrorists posing as refugees from Syria and Iraq passed the House of Representatives with an overwhelming bipartisan, veto-proof majority. While our hearts break for these refugees, our first priority must be defending America – and, as far as I’m concerned, if we don’t know who you are, you are not getting into our country. 

 

In addition, I’ve fought to keep dangerous terrorists – including key architects of the September 11 attacks – locked up at Guantanamo Bay. President Obama is focused on closing Gitmo, transferring and releasing prisoners and putting our security at risk. We don’t want these terrorists in our backyard or in other countries that lack top-notch security to keep them from returning to the battlefield. That’s why I authored, and the House of Representatives passed, legislation to prohibit the administration from transferring any detainees out of Gitmo.

 

The most important step is for the president to admit that his strategy to deal with ISIS is failing. America needs a commander-in-chief who will put forth a comprehensive, long-term plan that will successfully degrade and destroy this enemy.

 

We must empower our military and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to keep us safe, and we must secure our borders first so that we can make intelligent decisions as to who and what come into our country.

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Hudson: During any consideration of immigration legislation, I have three key principles that I plan to stick to.

1. Any effort to fix our immigration system must first start with securing our borders as part of a common sense, step-by-step approach that focuses on a long-term solution.

 

2. Any reforms must contribute to the American economy and enrich hard-working Americans. Part of staying competitive is making sure that we’re attracting the best and brightest people from around the world. That’s the American tradition, and it’s why we need immigration reform that reflects the needs of our employers and job creators.

 

3. Any reforms must recognize that we are a nation of immigrants, but we are also a nation of laws. Granting amnesty to illegal immigrants would be an affront to the millions of legal immigrants and to the citizens of our great country. We cannot continue to have an immigration system that rewards people who break our laws while punishing those who want to follow them.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Hudson: I will continue to fight for a smaller, more limited federal government that empowers the economy in North Carolina to grow and provide good-paying jobs for folks across the state.

 

I’m running for re-election to continue to be a conservative, common sense voice for the people of North Carolina’s 8th District. I’ll continue to protect our 2nd Amendment rights, reduce taxes, rein in wasteful government spending, protect our homeland and create jobs. That’s the only way we’re going to turn this country around, and that’s why I’m asking for your vote on November 8. Thank you and God bless.

 

Thomas Mills

Age: 53

Party Affiliation: Democrat

www.thomasmillsnc.com

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Mills: Yes. Over the last eight years we’ve seen unemployment almost cut in half, the value of the Stock Market double, the cost of energy has gone down and now wages are finally beginning to rise. But there is still a lot of work to be done, and securing jobs in North Carolina’s 8th District must be a priority of our elected officials. Much of our infrastructure and roads either need to be rebuilt or maintained, and we need to provide high-speed Internet to rural America. Not only are these vital to the economic growth of the district, but the jobs will help rebuild America’s middle class.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our society safer?

Mills: We need to continue to work with our international allies to isolate and neutralize the threat of non-state actors abroad. We must fix our broken immigration system so we better understand who is coming in and out of this country and we can stop terrorism before it arrives. In efforts to prevent tragedies like those in Chattanooga and San Bernardino, background checks need to be in place to screen gun purchasers.

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Mills: It is unfortunate to have 11 million people living in the country illegally. We need to integrate them into society to get people paying taxes and participating in everyday civic life. Our government must work to create a standardized pathway to green cards for people already living in the U.S. We must support the laws that are in the books to deport criminals and make sure ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is fully funded to carry out their jobs. Additionally, we need to further crack down on employers who hire illegal immigrants.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Mills: We have a broken political system that puts special interests ahead of the people of this country. As a congressman I will always put the interests of the people of the 8th District first. I will work to improve and modernize our nation’s infrastructure, raise the minimum wage, provide family medical leave and equal pay for equal work. I will reach across the aisle to find ways to make Congress work again. We have big problems facing us and we need to fix Washington before we can address those problems. We won’t fix Congress if we keep sending the same people to Washington. It’s time for new leadership.

 

 

N.C. STATE SENATE – 36th DISTRICT

Two-year Term

 

Paul R. Newton

Age: 56

Party Affiliation: Republican

www.newton4senate.com

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Newton: After a slow start under Democrat Governor Bev Perdue, our local and state economies are far better off today after five years of Republican leadership and successful economic development pursuits. For example:

1. North Carolina’s unemployment rate has dropped from 10.3% to 4.9%.

2. North Carolina has gone from the highest taxed state in the Southeast to one of the lowest taxed states.

3. When Republicans gained the majority in the Legislature, they inherited a $2.25-billion budget deficit. Today, North Carolina enjoys a $425-million budget surplus.

4. The Legislature has increased state investments in public education by more than $1 billion since 2011.

 

The impact of these improvements?

1. North Carolina has had the fastest growing economy in the nation since 2013.

2. North Carolina has added more than 300,000 new jobs since 2013.

3. CEOs ranked North Carolina the third best state in the nation for business in a poll done for the May issue of Chief Executive Magazine.

4. Forbes magazine ranked North Carolina second in its most recent annual Best States for Business.

 

Under Republican policies, North Carolina is better off. Most importantly, Republican leadership has laid the groundwork for sustainable future growth. 

  

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to make our society safer?

Newton: Radical Islamists and other terrorists have a world view that is incompatible with the freedoms we enjoy here in the United States. For example, a radical Islamist will never agree to assimilate within a culture that permits freedom of religion, freedom of speech and one that works hard to ensure equal rights for all. Recognition of this problem leads to an effective solution.

 

We must take seriously early indicators of antisocial behaviors. The current administration’s policy to usher in potential terrorists without proper screening – even without notifying the governors of the states where the refugees/immigrants are placed – defies common sense and violates the higher duty to keep America safe. 

 

Domestic ‘terrorism’ is typically a product of poor mental health. Our mental health system needs to be improved to permit early diagnosis and treatment.

 

Removing firearms from law-abiding citizens is not the answer. The root cause of terrorism is never the firearm. Just look at recent examples of terrorist use of vehicles, knives and bombs as weapons across the globe.

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Newton: First, we must secure our border. An unabated flow of undocumented immigrants precludes a rational conversation about those who are already here. Many Americans will not consider immigration reform until they feel national sovereignty is protected. No American wants to lose the things that made this country great.

 

Does that mean we need to build a physical wall? Perhaps in some areas. Regardless of how big or small the physical wall is, we must secure our borders.

 

What I hear from others is that undocumented immigrants are not asking for the right to vote, or even for citizenship. Most are hard-working, good people. They are asking for residency, with an I.D. that allows them to drive and work without fear of deportation. They are often fleeing oppressive and dangerous conditions in their country of origin. 

 

Our guiding principles on such tough issues should always be, what is constitutional? What is in the best interest of our nation and its citizens?

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Newton: You should vote for Paul Newton if you want a common sense, real-world conservative who is business minded. I will work hard to create new and better jobs in our state. 

 

I am a husband, married 30 years; I have four children. I attend The Refuge church in Kannapolis. I earned business and legal degrees at UNC-Chapel Hill. I practiced law for several years before becoming a business leader at Duke Energy. I retired as North Carolina State President in 2015.

 

I served on the Cabarrus County Advisory Board for Big Brothers, Big Sisters. I participated in various church-related ministry outreaches. I served on the boards of the N.C. Center for Non-Profits and the N.C. Chamber of Commerce.

 

I am running to serve you as state senator because YOU matter. I understand what it means to sacrifice, lead and to represent others. If elected, I will represent you with tested, proven, sound judgment and a 100 percent commitment to excellence and integrity. I ask you for your vote!

 

Robert Brown

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Every effort was made to offer Mr. Brown an opportunity to participate in this issue. Unfortunately, there was no reply our requests.

 

 

N.C. STATE GENERAL ASSEMBLY – 82nd DISTRICT

Two-year Term

 

Larry G. Pittman

Age: 62

Party Affiliation: Republican (Incumbent)

www.electpittman.com

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Pittman: North Carolina’s economy is certainly better because of the changes we have made since 2011. We have drastically cut unemployment, paid off over $2 billion in debt to the federal government’s unemployment system; lowered income taxes, both corporate and personal, in an effort to eliminate them; dramatically reduced regulations on business; and invested a great deal into education, including encouraging families to make choices about education that best fit their children’s needs to prepare them for work. 

 

We need to keep creating a climate that is good for business and let the free enterprise system function as it should, without government interference. We need to stop wasting taxpayer funding on things that are none of the government’s responsibility – such as giving financial incentives to big corporations – and get out of the way to let businesses create jobs, not the government.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to make our society safer?

Pittman: First, we need a president who will acknowledge these problems for what they are and set our armed forces and law enforcement free to attack them, rather than weakening our military and making law enforcement out to be the problem. We also need to uphold the right of our law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms so that they can defend themselves from terrorists and criminals, and encourage citizens to get good training in firearm use and safety. 

 

It would be good if business owners would realize that they are much safer with armed citizens on their premises than with little stickers on their doors that stop those citizens from carrying into their buildings, who might even have saved the lives of business owners and customers otherwise, when criminals and terrorists ignore those stickers and the law in general.

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Pittman: We could begin by enforcing the laws that are already on the books and deporting illegals who slip through our defenses or overstay their visas. We need to overturn the court ruling from years ago that requires us to educate the children of illegals in our public schools, and take away every other incentive they have for coming here illegally. We need to put teeth into our immigration laws, and stop hindering border patrol agents and state and local law enforcement from enforcing those laws. We need to stop pandering to the interests of big business wanting cheap labor and actually punish them if they hire illegals to take jobs from Americans.

 

On the other hand, I have a friend from Mexico who did everything the right way, according to the law. Yet he had to be here seven years before he could bring his wife and children to live with him here. He only got to see them about twice a year for all that time. That is outrageous. If his wife was eligible to come here legally, as he did, she and the children should have been allowed to be with him rather than keeping that family apart for seven years. That is inhumane. It needs to be changed.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Pittman: As I have always said, I don’t have all the answers. What I do have is a commitment to the God-given rights of our citizens, beginning with the right to life, without which there can be no other rights. I may be part of the government, but I don’t work for the government. I work for the people.

 

I am a small church pastor, and was a forklift operator in the Shipping Department and company chaplain at a local business before I went to Raleigh.

 

I put legislation in Raleigh to a four-point test. First, will this legislation put man’s law in conflict with God’s law? If it does, I will not vote for it. Second, will this legislation uphold the rights of our citizens, or will it violate their rights? If it violates those rights, I will fight to stop it. Third, is it any of the government’s business in the first place? If it isn’t, I won’t support it because I go to Raleigh to try to limit government to the actual responsibilities of government. Fourth, can I justify to the taxpayers any expenditure of their money that this legislation would involve? If I can’t, I oppose it.

 

Earle Schecter

Age: 72

Party Affiliation: Democrat

www.facebook.com/Earle Schecter for NC House

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Schecter: The economy is most definitely in better shape than it was eight years ago. Eight years ago, our economy was losing 800,000 per month, the banking system was near collapse, the auto industry was bankrupt and the Stock Market was down around 600. Today, the Stock Market has tripled, the banking system is making record profits, the auto industry (and all its thousands of jobs) is doing quite well and every month since eight years ago, we have added jobs. In fact, the unemployment rate is below 5 percent today; eight years ago, it was around 10 percent. 

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to make our society safer?

Schecter: First, we need to end the endless war in Afghanistan. This only serves as a recruiting tool for the terrorists. Next, we must find a way to engage the Middle Eastern nations to involve themselves – on a massive military level – in the war against the terrorists. Once we and our allies regain the territory lost to the various terrorists groups in the region, we must return to a policy of, ‘nation building.’ 

 

On the home front, instead of shouts by politicians such as Donald Trump to demean and insult Muslim Americans, we must ask for their help in providing the intelligence needed in their respective communities. This will greatly help the federal agencies devoted to stopping homegrown terrorists within our country. 

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Schecter: President Obama’s amnesty program was the correct approach for the millions of undocumented immigrants and their families who have lived in America for many years. Rounding up 11 million people is totally absurd and totally impractical. Next, we must realize that Mexican people have virtually stopped coming across the southern border looking for jobs. The fact is that Mexico’s economy is booming. The idea of building, ‘a wall and having Mexico pay for it’ is only a sound-bite and not a rational thought. Congress, which has passed almost no legislation in the past eight years, must finally, and seriously, tackle this difficult problem. 

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Schecter: I am the Democratic candidate for the 82nd District for the North Carolina General Assembly. My opponent, Larry Pittman, is the Republican candidate who has embarrassed his own Republican Party to the degree that he is receiving little support from them. 

 

On the issues, I support public education; my opponent does not. I support job creation and economic development; my opponent does not. I support equal pay for women; my opponent does not. I believe every citizen in North Carolina should have the right to vote; my opponent does not. I am a veteran who cares about veterans; my opponent is not and does not. I believe all North Carolinians should have healthcare; my opponent does not.

 

And, finally, just like Ronald Reagan, I believe in the Second Amendment to the Constitution, including background checks for the purchase of a gun, as do 70 percent of gun owners. My opponent steadfastly believes one has the right to purchase ANY GUN, and TAKE IT ANYWHERE (schools, churches and bars) without first obtaining a background check.

 

 

N.C. STATE GENERAL ASSEMBLY – 83rd DISTRICT

Two-year Term

 

Linda P. Johnson

Age: 71

Party Affiliation: Republican (Incumbent)

www.facebook.com/linda.p.johnson1

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Johnson: Eight years ago we were in the middle of a national recession, which hit all our states very hard, and for that reason we have to be better off nationally. In 2011 there was a change in leadership in North Carolina and I was appointed a House chief budget writer. I have served in that position the last six years and also serve as vice-chair of House finance. This allows me a total picture of our state in both revenue and appropriations.

 

When appointed to these positions, our state was in debt a total of $5 billion with no plan to recover. I am proud to say, today, our state has reduced taxes and has balanced our budget while bringing in more than 300,000 jobs, increasing teacher pay, increasing educational funding and having a $1-billion savings account should we have unforeseen problems.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to make our society safer?

Johnson: North Carolina has and should continue to do all we can for our citizens’ safety. These procedures include our security efforts for our state, some efforts are securing our research facilities, preparing evacuation routes, improving school safety efforts, police support and securing our technology. If elected, I will continue to improve our safety efforts.

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Johnson: This, too, is mainly a federal issue but I would continue to do all I can to support our citizens with state efforts to remove sanctuary cities and support our state’s law enforcement efforts with training on federal laws.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Johnson: I ask for your vote because I believe I have a proven record of accomplishments and service to the people of North Carolina, and am proud to represent my district. I serve on numerous state and national committees and boards and always try to give 150 percent. Thank you for your consideration of my continued service.

 

Jeremy Hachen

Age: 25

Party Affiliation: Democrat

www.hachen 2016.org

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Hachen: Although the economy of North Carolina is larger than it was eight years ago, many North Carolinians find themselves working as hard as they can without making any progress. The wage gap has widened and upward mobility has slowed. North Carolina working families can be helped by providing tax reform that is actually helpful to all of us, not just those at the top. The earned income tax credit must be reinstated and the added taxes on services that our state government has placed on all of us should be lifted to relieve the taxpayer and make life just a little easier. 

 

Investment in our future will also help grow the economy. We need to make a serious commitment to growing both our public schools and our state’s infrastructure. Better public schools will provide North Carolina with an educated workforce and an environment that is enticing to businesses looking to bring in jobs.  Investment in North Carolina, through public education and infrastructure, is the best way to ensure economic prosperity for the future.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to make our society safer?

Hachen: Let’s be honest, the North Carolina House of Representatives can do very little to stem Islamic or domestic terrorism. What is possible is to improve our law enforcement system to make all of us safer. The best way to keep North Carolinians safe is to provide our law enforcement officers with more training to handle the wide range of issues we expect them to deal with. 

 

We expect our law enforcement officers to handle everything from underage drinking at high school parties to active shooter scenarios in schools and malls. We must increase the training we provide so that those who choose a life of service can be prepared to handle what we expect them to handle. 

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Hachen: Once again, immigration is handled at a federal level. Our state government does not have the means or authority to put our own immigration standards in place. We do need immigration reform, but asking Congress to do anything about it seems futile.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Hachen: One of the largest responsibilities of the North Carolina House of Representatives is to fund and regulate our public school system. I am a public school teacher here in Cabarrus County and I am telling you we have an education problem right here at home. Thirty-five students in a class, a third of a school being taught in mobile units, limited supplies and a workforce that knows they are not valued. I know what our schools need to succeed and we desperately need the perspective of a teacher, not a politician, when dealing with our schools. 

 

 

North Carolina Governor

Four-year Term

 

Pat McCrory

Age: 59

Party Affiliation: Republican (Incumbent)

www.patmccrory.com

Every effort was made to offer Mr. McCrory an opportunity to participate in this issue. Unfortunately, there was no reply our requests.

 



Roy Cooper

Age: 59

Party Affiliation: Democrat

www.roycooper.com

Every effort was made to offer Mr. Cooper an opportunity to participate in this issue. Unfortunately, there was no reply our requests.

 

 


North Carolina Lieutenent Governor

Four-year Term

 

Dan Forest

Age: 48

Party Affiliation: Republican (Incumbent)

www.ltgov.gov

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Forest: While the economic recovery has been slow nationwide over the last eight years, the same cannot be said for North Carolina over the last four years. We have witnessed the creation of 300,000 new jobs, exceeded the nation’s rate of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth, and cut individual and corporate income taxes. We have paid off $2.8 billion in unemployment debt to the federal government to save businesses money on unemployment insurance taxes and turned the Medicaid deficit around to a surplus.

 

National organizations have recognized how North Carolina’s economy is growing at a faster rate than the rest of the country. We’ve gone from 44th to 15th in business tax climate as rated by the Tax Foundation.

 

I would continue working on these policies to continue to decrease the tax burden of businesses and individuals in North Carolina and remove more regulatory red tape. We need to stay the course if we want to see continued economic growth.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our society safer?

Forest: I firmly believe that protecting our society has to begin at the local level. We need better information sharing between federal government intelligence sources, the state and local law enforcement. For instance, as we have Syrian refugees being placed by the federal government and NGOs (non-governmental organizations) into North Carolina, the federal government does not allow the state to be involved in the vetting process. Intelligence that the federal government has that may show that a North Carolina resident has sympathy towards a terror group such as ISIS must be shared with our state and local law enforcement so that these agencies can be on the lookout for suspicious activity and make the proper call on what to do with such an individual in the event of an arrest or other contact with law enforcement. Unless and until the vetting process is fixed, I am opposed to locating any refugees from Syria or other ISIS-infiltrated areas in North Carolina.

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Forest: Before we can even discuss immigration reform, we must secure our border. If illegal immigrants are allowed to continue to cross over our borders by the millions, it will not matter what immigration reforms are made. I oppose and will continue to oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants in any form. When President Obama, by a stroke of his pen, granted amnesty to illegal immigrants, I filed a brief in the United States Supreme Court arguing that the president’s actions were clearly unconstitutional. As a result of that lawsuit, Obama’s executive amnesty was stopped. We need more local law enforcement agencies in North Carolina to participate in the 287(g) program to make sure that illegal immigrants that are arrested for committing crimes in North Carolina are turned over to federal immigration authorities for deportation.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Forest: Over the last four years, we have put North Carolina back to work. We have erased billions of dollars in debt. We have cut taxes for all North Carolinians. We have increased teacher pay to an average of over $50,000.We have invested more money in the education of our children than at any other time in the history of North Carolina. I will continue to stand up for what is right in every decision that I make as your lieutenant governor, and I am asking for your vote to continue the great strides we have made.

 

Linda Coleman

Age: 67

Party Affiliation: Democrat

www.lindafornc.com

Every effort was made to offer Ms. Coleman an opportunity to participate in this issue. Unfortunately, there was no reply our requests.

 



Jacki Cole

Age: 50

Party Affiliation: Libertarian

www.facebook.com/JackiCole4NCLG

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Cole: I think the Stock Market is better off, but the government is deeper in debt and wealth inequality has increased. So, no, we are not in better shape economically.

 

Libertarians believe in reducing government interference to create more jobs and a more equal playing field for entrepreneurship by eliminating government licensing, reducing taxes – specifically federal income tax – and ending corporate welfare.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to make our society safer?

Cole: We need to stop attacking other countries – end the drone strikes and bombing of innocent people on the other side of the globe. The U.S. has the right to defend its people and land, but regime change has proven to not be a viable foreign policy strategy or guarantee of peace.

 

Domestically, we need to stop militarization of law enforcement,    asset forfeiture of people not charged with a crime, and decriminalization of drug use.

 

CM: What is your stance on immigration reform? If you feel changes are needed, how would you go about making them?

Cole: This is really a federal issue, not a state one; however, we need to make it easier for immigrants to get work visas to be here legally. By and large, immigrants are not taking jobs away from Americans or threatening our safety. They are providing services that many Americans need and value. We are getting hardworking people who want to be here, who, in many cases, have risked life and limb or financial hardship to come here. Yes, there should be background checks, but if there are no red flags and they have work lined up, they should be issued work visas.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Cole: I ask that people vote for me and the other Libertarian candidates to bring change that can only happen from a different perspective. In North Carolina and at the national level, the ‘big two’ have both increased government regulations and spending. The career politicians are out of touch with the people. If you want the government out of your personal life, and for local issues to be left to be resolved at the local level, please give us a chance.

 

 

Cabarrus County Commission

Four-year Term

 

Steve Morris

Age: 62

Party Affiliation: Republican (Incumbent)

www.stevemorrisforcommssioner.com

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Morris: Absolutely! Looking at Cabarrus County and the opportunities that we’ve had, we’ve probably had more projects to consider and that actually relocated here in the past four years than in the seven years that preceded them. Our unemployment rate is also lower. But there’s always room for improvement and that’s why communication between the municipalities and local businesses is so important.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to make our society safer?

Morris: I truly believe that the best thing Cabarrus County can do is to know your neighbor and provide opportunities for people to meet and understand each other. If we will truly do that, we can avoid all that here. I think some people are scared of things they don’t understand.

 

CM: Cabarrus County is growing at a rapid pace. Considering current infrastructure, is it too fast? How would you encourage positive growth, what are some of the challenges you face and how would you address them?

Morris: In some regards, we are growing too fast. Sometimes I fear we can’t keep up with the infrastructure, especially in relation to the schools. We have to start building the schools before the kids are of age to fill them. We have to predict that need. There’s very little we can do about that. The county tried some things in the past (to limit growth), but they were ruled illegal. Is it a crisis? No. Would it be nice if we could regulate it? Yes. But we are able to keep it in balance right now.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Morris: If you look at my record for the past four years, and what we’ve been able to accomplish, the record speaks for itself. The reason I do it is because I love my community and I want to continue to serve it.

 

Elizabeth Poole

Age: 58

Party Affiliation: Republican (Incumbent)

wwwfacebook.com/Liz-Poole-Cabarrus-County-Board-of-Commissioners

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Poole: Some people are better off; however, many are not. In Cabarrus County, we have been blessed with a strong hospitality and tourism industry that has helped with our recovery from the recession.

 

The county has also grown in our number of businesses, which has increased job opportunities. The Board of Commissioners has worked to attract new businesses and to expand current businesses. Over the last eight years, Cabarrus County has seen capital investments of more than $955 million, more than 5,600 full-time jobs and more than 700 part-time jobs. We need to continue those programs to make Cabarrus County an attractive place to locate or to expand. 

 

We also need to continue to preserve farmland, support our farming community and enhance our standard of living. The construction of Wallace Park and expanded library hours are examples of efforts to provide for our citizens.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to make our society safer?

Poole: Culture trumps strategies. As long as we are willing to listen to other people and talk, we can solve any problem. We have to have a culture of respect and a desire to work together. A strong educational system is important to support such a culture.

 

From a county perspective, we have to support those who work every day to truly make this place safer: law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services, etc. The county also needs to make building a new courthouse a priority and provide appropriate facilities for our courts, district attorney, probation and all the people who work out of that facility.

 

CM: Cabarrus County is growing at a rapid pace. Considering current infrastructure, is it too fast? How would you encourage positive growth, what are some of the challenges you face and how would you address them?

Poole: We have been very fortunate to be a growing county vs. some counties in the state that are dying. Bring on the challenges. The county must continue to work with the municipalities to encourage growth in all areas of the county and, as best we can, anticipate any challenges, be it rail, roads, water, sewer, schools, law enforcement, etc.

 

As the vice-chair of the Cabarrus Rowan Metropolitan Planning Organization – the roads and bridges group – we have worked to secure state and federal funding for roads and bridges. The widening of I-85 is painful now, but will be wonderful once completed. Likewise, changes to Derita Road and Concord Mills Boulevard will improve those areas. I have been championing the extension of George Liles Boulevard to Highway 49. A number of distribution centers have opened in Cabarrus County and mobility is very important to their success.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Poole: Serving in a local elected office is not for everyone, as my friends continually tell me. There is a song, I Was Here that says: ‘I want to do something that matters, say something different, something that sets the whole world on its ear. I want to do something better with the time I was given, and I want to try to touch a few hearts in this life. Leave nothing less than something that says I was here.’

 

I want to do just that; I want to make this small part of the world better; I want to inspire people to leave their mark. The good thing is, that process never ends and I’d like to continue to do what I love with the support of the voters.

 

Evelyn Miller

Age: 67

Party Affiliation: Democrat

 

CM: Do you believe the economy is in better shape than it was eight years ago? If not, what would you do to change it?

Miller: I believe our economy is in better shape, but continues to be sluggish due to the 112th Congress being the least productive in history. They have refused to pass legislation on job bills despite initiatives to raise wages and lower unemployment that could stimulate the economy. Growth in employment and the housing might be stronger if the job markets were more robust. However, better fiscal responsibility by government eliminating waste and abuse of federal dollars, and Wall Street reforms providing protection for consumers, continue to make a positive impact on the economy.

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to make our society safer?

Miller: We can make our society safer by every citizen’s commitment to be vigilant of their surroundings as they go about their everyday lives. They should report any suspicious activities or behaviors, no matter how minute it may appear, to local authorities. Our federal, state and local government should ensure freedom for individuals: equality, respect, tolerance and a strong sense of mutual trust as core values. When there is a reputable threat – domestic or Islamic – it should be taken seriously, analyzed and shared with all local, state and federal authorities.

 

CM: Cabarrus County is growing at a rapid pace. Considering current infrastructure, is it too fast? How would you encourage positive growth, what are some of the challenges you face and how would you address them?

Miller: Cabarrus County infrastructure continues to grow at a rapid pace. The biggest challenge our county presently faces is commuter traffic into surrounding counties. I would encourage a task force to study the consideration of light rail into Cabarrus County to help decrease traffic and commute time to surrounding counties.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Miller: Yes! Vote for Evelyn Miller for Cabarrus County Commissioner. I will bring to the board my interest in making Cabarrus County mean business in developing the powers and responsibilities of the County Board. I will ask our constituents to make their concerns known, share them with the board and seek viable solutions about public safety, county needs and state requirements that will enhance the lives of all our citizens.

 

 

Cabarrus County Board of Education

Four-year Term/Non-partisan

 

Tom Clark

Age: 62

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our schools safer?

Clark: Administrators and teachers need to develop a conversational relationship with parents and guardians. Teachers should make it a goal to speak with the parents of all their students within the first month of school. Suspicious behavior at home, on campus, over social media channels and in overheard conversations should be reported to law enforcement and/or school authorities. ‘See something, say something’ should be a common practice for everyone with assured anonymity when requested.

 

CM: Cabarrus County is growing at a rapid pace. Considering current infrastructure, is it too fast relative to the number of school-age children vs. the number of available schools?

Clark: We can find communities across the nation which succeeded in dealing with this problem. We will study their models and use the best practices from them that fit within our budget and structure resources. If we find ourselves pioneers in dealing with this problem, then we will become the model to be used by others facing this dilemma. We will rise to the level of the challenge.

 

CM: Teachers often have to dip into their own pockets to provide classroom materials and tools. What changes are needed to reduce/eliminate this?

Clark: We are smart enough to develop a system to reimburse teachers for justifiable out-of-pocket expenses not covered in existing programs. This should be part of a compensation package that includes a pay raise and some added benefits. This is a concept that should be developed by teachers and administrators to ensure that the primary beneficiary is the student.

 

CM: Please tell our readers why you should get their vote.

Clark: After 22 years living in this county, teaching in its schools, attending its churches and observing its people, I believe there are new approaches to take to involve more of our citizens and businesses in building tomorrow. The challenges of growth will need every citizen to discover the part they will play to ensure all agencies of county/city government are empowered to meet the challenge of a fast-growing society with a diversity of needs. These agencies include schools, law-enforcement, infrastructure, facilities management… and the list goes on.

 

I have no criticism of the way things have been handled, but my military experience (22 years, U.S. Air Force officer) and 21 years teaching middle school through college will help our county face challenges that were a normal part of the dynamic world of military management.

 

Cindy Fertenbaugh

Age: 58

www.facebook.com/cindyfertenbaughcabarrus

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our schools safer?

Fertenbaugh: Safety measures initiated or enhanced during my prior service on the board, including the design and remodeling of the main entrances to schools to force visitors to enter through the office, and the expansion of the School Resource Officer program need to be continued. We should also continue to engage with local law enforcement on new safety measures, including training for staff since they are the daily eyes and ears on each school campus.

 

CM: Cabarrus County is growing at a rapid pace. Considering current infrastructure, is it too fast relative to the number of school-age children vs. the number of available schools?

Fertenbaugh: The county commissioners have been supportive with recent school construction funding, so school capacity continues to grow along with the expanding population. The updated magnet school program is ensuring that available seats are being used without constant redistricting. It is important for the board to be responsible with taxpayers’ money and be creative with using all available space. Likewise, county and municipal leaders may need to adjust their processes for granting new construction permits and slow down construction, especially with apartments, which provide a higher density of students in a smaller geographic footprint.

 

 

CM: Teachers often have to dip into their own pockets to provide classroom materials and tools. What changes are needed to reduce/eliminate this?

Fertenbaugh: There is a finite amount of funding which must be shared across technology, supply and often textbook spending. In the mid-1990s, I worked with Communities In Schools on what we believe was the first School Tools drive in Cabarrus County, in cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce. I would like to re-ignite the partnership with chamber members and other local groups to adopt schools for basic supply needs and to contribute to the growth of technology tools.

 

CM: Please tell our readers what your Board of Education goals are and why you should get their vote.

Fertenbaugh: Advocating for public education has been my passion for nearly three decades, through volunteerism at individual schools, with Communities in Schools and with Junior Achievement, in addition to previously serving on the Board of Education for 14 years.

 

During my previous tenure, I took my responsibility seriously by studying materials, asking detailed questions and engaging with the community on the topics. Each decision and vote came after thoughtful and informed consideration. The other board members came to rely on my research and comments on many agenda topics. Often, I was the mediator between dissenting views, explaining the pros and cons of situations.

 

In addition, I was fortunate to engage in advocacy for public education at the local, state and national levels, including lobbying for educational needs. I was appointed to two state-level committees involving education and technology, and recognized as a member of the All State School Board in 2012. With the support of the voters in November, I will continue to be a dedicated and well-informed board member and advocate for Cabarrus County schools.

 

David Harrison

Age: 59

www.facebook.com/DavidHarrisonforSchoolBoard Harrison Cabarrus School Board member

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our schools safer?

Harrison: In a midwestern state a few years back, a tornado devastated a school one morning. Many of the children were not hurt, but… how? Where were the children? Under the bodies of teachers, who risked their own safety to shield the children from harm. That’s just what teachers do. In whatever circumstances, they do all they humanly can to care for children’s safety.

 

Hire passionate, dedicated, trained teachers; support them with county deputies and municipal police officers; make sure fire and EMT resources are ready at all times; ensure clean and well-maintained buildings; and earn the trust and full confidence of parents and the community. That keeps children safe, so they can learn.

 

CM: Cabarrus County is growing at a rapid pace. Considering current infrastructure, is it too fast relative to the number of school-age children vs. the number of available schools?

Harrison: Look outside of Cabarrus for counties and areas that, after six to seven years of recession, still have scant economic activity, few companies employing people, a disproportionate number of low-wage opportunities and long lines for what rare jobs there are.

 

The challenges of Cabarrus’ growth (32,000 students) are ‘good problems’ to have. Growth means we are a desirable place to live, where selling/buying homes and building bridges and roads prove our economic vitality, which translates to a strong tax base, which itself is a sustainable source of funds for school capital needs and local teacher supplements.

 

Cabarrus’ strong current economy is the direct result of the foresight of the county’s leaders over the last 20 to 30 years, and our responsibility today is to make sure we keep our current attractive environment for living and doing business – and having great schools – reliable for future generations to inherit.

 

 CM: Teachers often have to dip into their own pockets to provide classroom materials and tools. What changes are needed to reduce/eliminate this?

Harrison: It’s often said teachers spend $500 annually of their own family income for school supplies for kids whose families are unable to meet these needs. That figure is wrong. It’s low.

 

The N.C. General Assembly should implement a $2,000 personal income tax credit for teachers who purchase classroom supplies.

 

 CM: Please tell our readers what your Board of Education goals are and why you should get their vote.

Harrison: It’s been my honor and privilege to serve Cabarrus, and I humbly ask voters to continue working for you. In the next years, we need to unleash teacher creativity to achieve graduate rates of 95 percent by 2020; keep math and reading programs rigorous; challenge kids with competitive IB, STEM and Academy offerings; add counselors to work with children distracted by poverty and family dysfunctionalities; pay and treat staff fairly; use county and state resources wisely; manage growth by planning for it. Fix problems.

 

Jeffrey King (No Photo Available)

Age: 42

www.facebook.com/Jeffrey-King-for-Cabarrus-County-School-Board

Every effort was made to offer Mr. King an opportunity to participate in this issue. Unfortunately, there was no reply our requests.

 

Jeff Phillips

Age: 58

www.facebook.com/JPhillipsCCSBoard

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our schools safer?

Phillips: We are very focused on keeping our schools safe for our students and staff. In the four years I’ve served on the board, we have significantly upgraded our security systems, added police officers in every school, added fencing around our schools with multiple buildings where students go outside to get from one building to another, and implemented rigorous safety audits to verify that our schools are ready in case danger strikes.

 

CM: Cabarrus County is growing at a rapid pace. Considering current infrastructure, is it too fast relative to the number of school-age children vs. the number of available schools?

Phillips: While keeping up with rapid growth is a challenge for our school system, I would rather have that challenge than the one which many school systems in the eastern part of our state are facing: declining population. Growth can be painful at times, but it also brings new jobs and more resources to our county. 

 

When I ran for the school board in 2012, I said we needed a master plan to address our growing student population while also addressing the need to renovate or replace many of our aging schools. I’m happy to say that we now have a 10-year capital plan, which has the support of our county commissioners. We have built a new elementary school to address overcrowding on the western side of the county. We have purchased land and started the process to build a new high school to relieve overcrowding at that level, and we are building replacements for two of the oldest schools in our district: Royal Oaks Elementary and Mt. Pleasant Middle School.

 

CM: Teachers often have to dip into their own pockets to provide classroom materials and tools. What changes are needed to reduce/eliminate this?

Phillips: As someone who is married to a teacher, I know only too well how much teachers spend out of their own pockets. Part of this is simply because they are so passionate about helping children. Another part is that the state drastically cut back its contribution for buying instructional supplies when the recession hit in 2008-’09. That funding is yet to return. Our board will continue to lobby our legislators to increase funding for supplies, but the people they really listen to are the voters.

 

CM: Please tell our readers what your Board of Education goals are and why you should get their vote.

Phillips: I am a product of the public schools of Sherman, TX. The education I received there gave me the foundation to obtain a PhD in mechanical engineering from Stanford. For that I owe a debt of gratitude to my parents’ and grandparents’ generations. I cannot repay them, but I can pay that debt forward by seeing to it that today’s generation of students receives at least as good an education as I received. That is why I ran for the school board four years ago, and it is why I would like to continue to serve on the Cabarrus County School Board. 

 

During the next four years I would like our district to produce the most tech-savvy students in our region so they will be able to thrive in today’s job market. Also, we must find ways to reach our students who currently struggle in school. If we fail in that effort, all of us will be paying for it for the rest of those students’ lives. 

 

As Frederick Douglass once said, ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’ If you share that conviction, I need your support and your vote.

 

Barry Shoemaker

Age: 63

www.facebook.com/Barry-Shoemaker-Cabarrus-County-Board-of-Education

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our schools safer?

Shoemaker: Safety and security in each of our schools is a top priority and should remain so. Over the past four years, physical security on each campus required additional investments in campus and building fencing, campus entry structures meant to limit direct access to the interior school campus, camera systems and ID technology. 

 

Cabarrus County Schools (CCS) took advantage of state grants and increased local expenditures to assure that school resource officers (SROs) were allocated for each school.

 

A safety committee of staff and emergency response personnel work to audit safety processes and responses to various emergency scenarios at each school. This assures improved understanding by staff and even students on how to respond in emergencies.

 

CM: Cabarrus County is growing at a rapid pace. Considering current infrastructure, is it too fast relative to the number of school-age children vs. the number of available schools?

Shoemaker: There is very little CCS can do to influence the continued growth in our district. Based on recent estimates, the average growth of our student population will range from 1.5 percent to 3 percent. As elected officials, our task is to make sure we utilize the building resources that the local taxpayers have provided and to minimize the impact on the students. To accomplish this, it is important to maintain diligence and sensitivity to growth by revising the 5- to 10-Year Capital Plan each year.

 

It is important that our county public schools provide quality education and prepare our students with skills that will allow them to go on to successful pursuits of education or productive individuals sought out by businesses. Businesses are drawn to communities with strong educational structures. 

 

CM: Teachers often have to dip into their own pockets to provide classroom materials and tools. What changes are needed to reduce/eliminate this?

Shoemaker: The General Assembly (GA) is attempting to help districts with this problem, but the amount offered is very small and is sometimes countered by other budget changes that result in very little real money actually focused on supplying the classroom.

 

CCS collects fees to support local classroom expenses, but they do not begin to cover all classroom needs. CCS provides opportunities to give directly to the schools using the Student Supply Fee Fund, but the school system is not actively soliciting for donations of this kind. Another method is through support of the PTAs, PTOs or PTSOs.

 

We must depend on ourselves rather than the different government groups if we want to make a difference for the teacher in the classroom.

 

CM: Please tell our readers what your Board of Education goals are and why you should get their vote.

Shoemaker: I am fully prepared to continue to represent the citizens of Cabarrus County as a member of the Board of Education. Over the past two years I have served as the chairman, and during this time a new superintendent was named, our relationship with the county commissioners has improved dramatically, new schools are completed or being built and our district continues to perform at high levels.

 

Keisha Villatoro (No Photo Available)

lamone78@yahoo.com

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our schools safer?

Villatoro: We need to have terrorist attack drills in every school, including day cares, public, private, charter colleges and universities. We need to educate students, parents and community on the need and importance of the drills, so that everyone understands the why. We should survey the students, staff and teachers and get their input on what would make them feel safe.

 

CM: Cabarrus County is growing at a rapid pace. Considering current infrastructure, is it too fast relative to the number of school-age children vs. the number of available schools?

Villatoro: Yes. A practical, quick, less expensive solution might be to add more modulars that house entire grade levels to accommodate the rapid growth.

 

CM: Teachers often have to dip into their own pockets to provide classroom materials and tools. What changes are needed to reduce/eliminate this?

Villatoro: Local businesses could help with that cost every year. Teachers patronize these businesses weekly and it would be nice for the local businesses to consistently offset teacher costs by donating a portion of their profits yearly to help with yearly teacher supplies – businesses that count on teachers to help with their profit (Walmart, Food Lion, McDonald’s and Harris Teeter just to name a few).

 

CM: Please tell our readers what your Board of Education goals are and why you should get their vote.

Villatoro: To give parents, students and teachers a real voice, and help them find real solutions to their real concerns. To

bring fresh, new insight to the table from the point of view of a teacher, mother and veteran of the United States armed forces who was awarded a leadership award by her commanding officer.

 

Robert Walter

Age: 46

www.voterobwalter.org

 

CM: From radical Islamic to domestic terrorism, our nation has been under attack of late. In your opinion, what do we need to do to make our schools safer?

Walter: I have supported the added security entrance vestibules to most all of our schools, upgraded camera and security locks, added security fencing and, most importantly, added police officers to each of our schools. We also invested in a visitor check-in program and volunteer and staff background checks systems. We have set up a School Safety Committee and opened our schools to emergency response agencies to conduct active shooter and other drills with our staff over the summer.

 

I think more focus can be done on behaviors to look for and teaching on the subject for students and staff. I also think that the efforts to add school counselors, mental health professionals, and having our SROs available for students to be able to talk to and express their concerns will also make a difference.   

 

CM: Cabarrus County is growing at a rapid pace. Considering current infrastructure, is it too fast relative to the number of school-age children vs. the number of available schools?

Walter: I am an advocate for growth because growth means lots of new jobs resulting in a positive economic impact for businesses, and increasing property values and tax revenues. However, that growth does not come without its challenges and infrastructure concerns. One big one is the overcrowding and reaching student capacity at our existing schools in these high-growth areas.

 

Since I have been on the board we have added magnet and academy programs, and made smart, small redistricting decisions that helped reduce populations in highest growth schools. This is, however, only a short-term solution as growth continues.

 

The good news is the County Commission realizes this as an important issue and has committed to funding some new schools. Even with this commitment, there is still a $100-million need in just the next couple of years to add new schools to meet the growth of students and a $100-million need for replacing old schools.

 

 

CM: Teachers often have to dip into their own pockets to provide classroom materials and tools. What changes are needed to reduce/eliminate this?

Walter: The state has reduced instructional supply budgets for the last several years and our teachers have had to be extremely resourceful, taking advantage of technology in creating classroom materials.

 

There are several local organizations working on this issue. My church, for example, is sponsoring several teachers this year and will provide supplies and encouragement throughout the year. The Cabarrus Education Foundation gives thousands away each year to teachers with their mini-grant program. Several businesses run school supplies drives. We as a school system can help share the specific needs and coordinate to make sure those teachers that have a need get those resources before they have to dip into their own funds. 

 

CM: Please tell our readers what your Board of Education goals are and why you should get their vote.

Walter: My passion for serving is to ensure a strong, individualized, engaging education is provided for all of our students in a safe, welcoming environment; parents are informed and involved in their child’s education; and our school system maintains a partnership with and reflects the values of our community as a whole.

 

I’m a strong believer in quality teachers and will continue to support arts education, career and technical education programs (language immersion, academies, STEM, ROTC, FFA), and extracurricular leadership development or service activities for students and athletes.

   

I would be grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve and make a positive difference for our students and community, and ask for your support and vote.


Interviews conducted by: Kim Cassell and Jason Huddle

Photos courtesy of the Candidates or Michael A. Anderson Photography

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