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Cabarrus Magazine

The Midterm Elections: Meet the Candidates

Oct 01, 2018 08:30AM ● By Jason Huddle

The Midterm Elections: Meet the Candidates

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”


- Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

From gun control, to immigration, terrorism, health care, opioid abuse, sexual harassment and more, it’s a divisional time in the U.S. After a May 8 primary election that decided whose names will appear on the ballot November 6, it’s more important than ever to exercise your right to vote.

Once again, Cabarrus Magazine has reached out to local and state candidates running for positions that impact Cabarrus County. These Q&A sessions make for valuable tools in familiarizing each of us with who will potentially run our state and local government, school system and sheriff’s department before we place our vote. To view the Candidate Filing List, visit cabarruscounty.us, then click on the Government, Departments, Board of Elections and Candidate Information tabs.

Please note, Cabarrus Magazine did not interview candidates running unopposed or those running for Soil and Water Conservation due to space constraints. In addition, some editorial had to be edited for length. We thank everyone who took the time to participate in this special election issue.

 

UNITED STATES CONGRESS

District 8 | Two-Year Term

 

Richard Hudson

Party Affiliation: Republican | Incumbent

Q: We asked those running for state offices about their stance on illegal immigration. We ask you the same question, along with your plan to address this complicated issue.

A: Working with President Donald Trump, I’ve made it a priority to strengthen border security, stop illegal immigration, better enforce immigration laws and target dangerous gangs like MS-13.

I have also voted for billions of dollars in border security for things like more boots on the ground, increased detention space, improved surveillance technology and a wall.

 

Q: The benefits to the president’s tax cuts (implemented in January 2018) have been debatable over the past few months. Do you stand in support of them? Is there any modification you’d like to see to them moving forward?

A: We’ve helped build a better economic environment by cutting unnecessary regulations and by passing the largest tax cut in American history. Consumer confidence is at an 18-year high. Unemployment is at an historic low of 3.9 percent. Here in North Carolina, we saw more than 100,000 jobs added in the last year alone.

I’ve visited countless businesses and manufacturers in our district and I’ve heard how they have already invested their savings from our tax cuts to expand, increase hiring, or offer more benefits or higher wages for their employees.

I’ve spoken with families and workers across our district who are seeing direct benefits, especially with more money in their pockets because of lower tax rates. A typical family of four in Concord will see a tax cut of almost $2,100. With more take-home pay and a greater sense of job security, households are on a better financial footing.

 

Q: Opioids are another major issue countrywide. Cabarrus County was recently named one of the worst places in the state of N.C. dealing with this epidemic. Do you have a plan to address this critical problem?

 A: As a leader on the Energy and Commerce Committee, I am on the front lines of the federal efforts to combat the opioid crisis. I’ve also worked closely with the Cabarrus County government, Cabarrus Health Alliance, local officials and first-responders to ensure they have the resources needed to help families impacted by opioid addiction.

In June, the House passed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act.

Included in this critical package were two of my bipartisan bills: the Safe Disposal of Unused Medication Act and the Securing Opioids and Unused Narcotics with Deliberate (SOUND) Disposal and Packaging Act. SOUND is a bipartisan measure to encourage and promote improved packaging and disposal methods with respect to opioids. This is a small – but critical – step in combating the opioid crisis.

 

Frank McNeill

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Q: We asked those running for state offices about their stance on illegal immigration. We ask you the same question, along with your plan to address this complicated issue.

A: I support finding a legal pathway to citizenship for those people who want to escape hardship and find a better life in the United States – that’s the American dream. However, we also have to punish those illegal immigrants who break our laws and take advantage of our system.

 

Q: The benefits to the president’s tax cuts (implemented in January 2018) have been debatable over the past few months. Do you stand in support of them? Is there any modification you’d like to see to them moving forward?

A: I’m a small business owner. I support tax relief for small businesses and for working families. Unfortunately, the recently passed tax bill prioritizes wealthy Americans by granting permanent tax cuts to them and raising taxes on the working class. While the corporate tax cuts are permanent, the tax cuts for average, everyday Americans like us in the 8th District expire in just six years.

 

Q: Opioids are another major issue countrywide. Cabarrus County was recently named one of the worst places in the state of N.C. dealing with this epidemic. Do you have a plan to address this critical problem?

 A: Our 8th District has been the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic of any district in the state. Fayetteville was rated one of the most affected cities in the nation, and Stanly, Rowan and Cabarrus counties have all been at the top of the charts for opioid overdoses. We have got to stop this mess with real solutions. That’s why I am proposing prosecuting drug manufacturers who lie about addictive qualities in their drugs. I support the president’s initiative to curb opioid addiction. Unfortunately, the very day after he announced his initiative, my opponent, Richard Hudson, took thousands of dollars in contributions from drug manufacturers. There are real solutions, but we’ll never fix the problem and save lives as long as money keeps influencing our representatives.

 

 

 

N.C. STATE SENATE

District 36 | Two-Year Term

 

Paul R. Newton

Party Affiliation: Republican | Incumbent

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing your district? What is your plan to address that issue?

A: School construction. Our population is growing and the demands on our school systems continue to increase – a great problem to have, but a problem nonetheless.

As a Tier III county, Cabarrus does not enjoy many of the tools Tier I and Tier II counties have to facilitate new school financing. I do not like taxes, and will not vote to increase taxes on Cabarrus or Union County residents. However, I am supportive of allowing Cabarrus County the flexibility, should it choose to do so, to reallocate ¼ percent of our existing sales tax from transportation to new school construction, but ONLY if the voters decide to support that in a referendum.

Taking this approach should mitigate an increase or eliminate any increase in property taxes. Remember, much of Cabarrus County’s sales taxes are paid by visitors, not residents, so this plan further eases our residents’ burden.

Because we live in a great place, our need for new schools will continue to increase. My proposed approach helps Cabarrus County leaders find the resources they need while minimizing our tax burden.

 

Q: Illegal immigration is a hot topic in N.C. and Cabarrus County specifically. What is your stance on this issue and do you have plans to address it on a state level?

A: I believe that if we can assure our nation’s sovereignty through effective border control, we can work together to ensure reasonable, compassionate treatment for those already here and for those wishing to immigrate. Immigration laws and policy are set at the federal level.

 

Q: How do you feel about the proposed plans to redistribute sales tax monies earned by some areas within the state to more rural counties?

A: I have opposed the idea of redistributing sales taxes from Tier III counties to our more rural counties.

We should not punish prosperity. Instead, we should think of innovative solutions to grow the economies of our rural counties. A great example is the work being done right now at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis to develop a pilot plant to scale up laboratory research that demonstrates our ability to extract nutrients at the cellular level for greater nutrition. This work could lead to small manufacturing facilities being placed in the fields of more rural counties to extract these nutrients from vegetables that would otherwise have been thrown away because they were not suitable in appearance for store shelves…but, inside, the nutrient content is exactly the same!

 

Mark E. Shelley

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing your district? What is your plan to address that issue?

A: Education, in general, but the immediate issue we face is whether we will continue to raise taxes to fund school construction or if we will adopt a 21st century approach.

We need new legislation in Raleigh, allowing growing counties like Cabarrus and Union to ask the people who are creating the demand for more classrooms to share in the costs for building them. Developers need to pay their fair share of these costs. This is why I favor an impact fee for school construction instead of Senator Newton’s tax hike.

We also suffer from uncompetitive teacher pay. We ranked 39th in the nation in education funding.

Education is the biggest jobs program anyone could dream of. We need to address the escalating costs of our private colleges and universities and the burden of student debt. We grant these institutions tax-exempt status and they need to deliver on their end if they wish to remain tax-exempt. 

I want to put education back on the top of North Carolina’s to-do list. We need to recover our focus to do it well again.

 

Q: Illegal immigration is a hot topic in N.C. and Cabarrus County specifically. What is your stance on this issue and do you have plans to address it on a state level?

A: We have cultivated a hospitality industry in Cabarrus County and immigrant labor is a fact of life in that industry. Recent reports put employment in this industry at 4,580 people just in Cabarrus County. The industry generates enough tax revenue such that, without it, our taxes would increase $515 per household.

Neither Cabarrus County nor North Carolina, acting alone, can address this problem without doing disproportionate harm to ourselves. This has always been the case and that is one reason immigration policies have always been addressed at the federal level. North Carolina’s agriculture industry would also be crippled if we acted alone.

Obviously, if serious crimes are committed by immigrants they need to be prosecuted and deported, if possible, but we don’t need to duplicate the federal government’s general responsibilities and we don’t need to self-inflict economic wounds.

 

Q: How do you feel about the proposed plans to redistribute sales tax monies earned by some areas within the state to more rural counties?

A: It is the wrong approach. Cabarrus County needs stability and predictability in its revenue stream to budget in a reasonable manner. Our state constitution guarantees all North Carolinians a sound education, but many areas of our state are so poor they resemble second- and third-world countries.

A lot of people in Cabarrus County do not know how fortunate we are. The state lottery was supposed to solve the school-funding problem, but the lottery has been mismanaged. Of lottery proceeds, 40 percent was supposed to go to school construction, but only 17 percent is actually getting there.

 

 

 

N.C. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

District 67 | Two-Year Term

 

Michael Finn

Party Affiliation: Libertarian

Every effort was made to offer Mr. Finn an opportunity to participate in this issue. There was no reply to our requests.

 

Wayne Sasser

Party Affiliation: Republican

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing your district? What is your plan to address that issue?

A:  The opioid pandemic. Having been a pharmacist for over 40 years, there are many components that must be properly addressed to provide realistic solutions to the addicts and the families that are being devastated by this disease. 

Currently, at state and local levels, we have the STOP ACT, HOPE ACT, Detox and Bridge To Recovery programs, just to name a few. These programs are designed to help an addict detox and get into one of the rehab facilities available. Statistics show that these programs are extremely successful, but the demand is far exceeding both the financial and physical thresholds.

The next key component are programs such as Serenity House in Cabarrus County. This program takes individuals that successfully complete detox and rehab programs and assists them in rejoining the community.

I feel if we do not take drastic measures to correct this issue, the emotional, physical and financial burdens will continue to spin out of control, costing taxpayers millions of dollars annually.

 

Q: Illegal immigration is a hot topic in N.C. and Cabarrus County specifically. What is your stance on this issue and do you have plans to address it on a state level?

A: We must continue to support the efforts to secure our borders and ensure the safety and protection for all citizens. We must enhance and continue to improve our vetting process to give people of goodwill the opportunity to earn citizenship the right way.

Illegal immigrants that commit crimes must be deported immediately. We must continue to address and implement an effective and humane alternative for people that may have entered illegally but have proven themselves as decent and hardworking people. If they truly want to remain in our district and our country, they must be held accountable to abide by our laws and must also be made to participate in all tax withholding programs.

 

Q: How do you feel about the proposed plans to redistribute sales tax monies earned by some areas within the state to more rural counties?

A: The proposed plan has been in legislation for over two years. Although much discussion and many adjustments have been made concerning this proposal, I have not been presented a detailed plan for the redistribution of tax monies from one district to another, so I will refrain from commenting on this proposal directly until more information is available.

 I do feel that oftentimes urban counties have the opportunity to create more jobs and provide other opportunities that rural counties may benefit from. Rather than taking away from areas that are creating jobs and making good business decisions, I would propose to see state tax money allotted to rural counties for programs that have proven to boost rural economics.

 

Karen Webster

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing your district? What is your plan to address that issue?

A:  My district runs from Harrisburg out to Albemarle, and up to Mt. Pleasant, so it’s wonderfully diverse. If there is one issue that every area faces, it’s matters of K12 education. In Raleigh, I would be in a position to help with the challenges which face our schools.

Our towns and cities need the right to levy impact fees if it is decided, at the local level, that it is best for that community. To interfere with local government while not providing additional funds for schools is overreaching and unfair.

 

Q: Illegal immigration is a hot topic in N.C. and Cabarrus County specifically. What is your stance on this issue and do you have plans to address it on a state level?

A: Illegal immigration must be discouraged. We need to have a strong guest worker program that provides the labor that our farmers need and addresses the security of those who come to do the agricultural work that our state requires.

 

Q: How do you feel about the proposed plans to redistribute sales tax monies earned by some areas within the state to more rural counties?

A: My concern would be how the sharing would be determined. Until we can have a bipartisan, statewide committee look at distribution, it would be ill-advised to undertake such a plan. Equity must be assured.

 

 

 

N.C. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

District 82 | Two-Year Term

 

Linda P. Johnson

Party Affiliation: Republican | Incumbent

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing your district? What is your plan to address that issue?

A: I believe the greatest need of our community to be education of our K-12, community college and university students.

The state has addressed many of these issues, such as teacher pay – giving a raise in all eight of the last budgets and bringing average pay to $55,000 – and increasing education funding by $1 billion. Currently, we are using 57 percent of our state budget to implement that education and millions of dollars from other departments’ state budget line items, which I believe equates to approximately 60 percent of your state tax dollar.

Our county does well in their local budget in supplying the local education tax dollar, and ranks average. Some counties do not and recovery has been slow, which leads us to a need for school buildings here and across the state.

I do agree that my constituent’s property tax is an economic issue and should be as low as possible. My solution to this problem is a state school bond to give help to our communities to recover from the 2008 recession. I have and will again enter a bill for a state school bond. North Carolina has been great in subsidizing with hundreds of millions of extra dollars for construction, but the need from the recession is much larger.

The other issue is the gap in education and workforce needs. I have been a primary sponsor of several workforce education bills and will continue to do so. I also was the primary on the articulation legislation that helps fill the education needs of our health care workforce, and know that this type of education works locally and statewide.

 

Q: Illegal immigration is a hot topic in N.C. and Cabarrus County specifically. What is your stance on this issue and do you have plans to address it on a state level?

A: This is a federal issue and federal law supersedes state law. I have contacted our federal delegation on the need to expedite this issue. Currently, the state is servicing the education, health care and social services needs for the illegal immigrant population as we wait for federal legislation.

 

Q: How do you feel about the proposed plans to redistribute sales tax monies earned by some areas within the state to more rural counties?

A: I believe this to be a band-aide solution and do not agree. I believe in solving a problem at the root source – the root source being no tax base in our rural areas and agriculture industry which lacks food processing. Food processing is the largest dollar part of the agriculture industry.

I ask myself how I could help my constituents and the agricultural part of the state. Adding our resources (N.C. Research Center, N.C. State University Agriculture Research and our community college, RCCC, all based in Kannapolis) and the need in eastern North Carolina gave birth to the N.C. Food Processing Innovation Center. The NCFPIC is poised to revolutionize food processing and manufacturing in North Carolina. This initiative has already added jobs in Cabarrus, but in the agriculture areas it is projected to bring tens of thousands of jobs and a local tax base in less than 10 years. 

 

Aimy Steele

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing your district? What is your plan to address that issue?

A: One thing I have heard time and again across our district is that health care costs are continuing to rise, and with no relief in sight. Right now, our state has one of the 10 highest premium rates in the country.

The general assembly has refused to work with our governor to allow the Medicaid expansion into our state, which would cost North Carolina nothing and provide health care and cheaper rates for hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians immediately.

 

Q: Illegal immigration is a hot topic in N.C. and Cabarrus County specifically. What is your stance on this issue and do you have plans to address it on a state level?

A: I’ll preface this answer by saying that most of our immigration problems are the responsibility of the federal government and not the state. That said, here in Cabarrus County our citizens are aware of the ongoing problem our country faces with this.

The current immigration system is broken and this is something that deserves a bipartisan, state and federal approach to it. Here in North Carolina, we have anti-sanctuary city laws in place, passed in 2015, and several of our counties, including Mecklenburg, participate in the 287-g program. I will do everything in my power to promote a federal solution while working within our current state laws.

 

Q: How do you feel about the proposed plans to redistribute sales tax monies earned by some areas within the state to more rural counties?

A: Our state is better when every county and town is prospering, not just larger, metro areas. Right now, we have no real plan in place to promote our rural counties. Our economy is changing and we need an economic plan for our rural counties that creates jobs, boosts local economies and improves the education systems.

As a former principal, I have seen the tremendous value that job training programs for our K-12 students can provide, which is an immediate first step we could implement before deploying our students into the workforce.

 

 

 

N.C. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

District 83 | Two-Year Term

 

Larry G. Pittman

Party Affiliation: Republican | Incumbent

Every effort was made to offer Mr. Pittman an opportunity to participate in this issue. There was no reply to our requests.

 

Gail Young

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing your district? What is your plan to address that issue?

A: It’s difficult to narrow a district’s concerns to one single issue. But I will say that when talking with voters, educational funding is probably the issue I hear most about.

During this session, local elected officials across the state, including leaders in Cabarrus and Rowan counties, hoped to see a school construction bond referendum added to the election ballot.

I personally find it frustrating that the state legislature focused on adding six unnecessary constitutional amendments to the ballot, but ignored requests to give local leaders the tools they need to build schools. Interest rates are relatively low, which makes it a good time to borrow money, and these construction funds are needed here in our community.

At the very least, we need to raise teacher salaries to the national average so we can retain qualified, dedicated teachers here. Making sure our children have the support and resources they need to get a quality education is vital. That’s what brings industries and high-paying jobs to our community.

 

Q: Illegal immigration is a hot topic in N.C. and Cabarrus County specifically. What is your stance on this issue and do you have plans to address it on a state level?

A: While immigration is a federal issue and there is not much to be done at a state level, I understand the concern many in our community have.

America is a nation of immigrants. We are a land of freedom and opportunity, which is something we all take pride in. If you come to this country and work hard, the sky is the limit and we should encourage immigration policies that recognize our heritage.

We need to advocate for compassionate policy to allow the thousands of undocumented immigrants to continue working and contributing to our state’s economy. We need to push our elected federal representatives to work for solutions that are both in the best interests of North Carolina and protect our immigrant workers.

 

Q: How do you feel about the proposed plans to redistribute sales tax monies earned by some areas within the state to more rural counties?

A: Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question. I recognize one of the responsibilities of a legislator is to proportion revenue and resources to do the most good, for the most people. I believe that for the state to prosper, all must prosper.

At the same time, the voters of this district rightfully expect their legislator to protect their interests and fight for their share of the resources. If elected, I will do my best to find approaches that work equally well for the cities and towns of my district.

 

 

CABARRUS COUNTY COMMISSION

Four-Year Term

 

Thomas Hill

Party Affiliation: Libertarian

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing Cabarrus County? What is your plan to address that issue?

A: The opioid crisis. I call for the county to declare a public health emergency and immediately decriminalize cannabis (marijuana) in the county. In states with access to safe, legal cannabis, opioid-related deaths have dropped at least 25 percent. Cabarrus County should be on the cutting edge of compassion and defend its citizens’ God-given right to self-medicate safely.

 

Q: What is your stance on utilizing incentives to bring in companies to this area or keep existing ones?

A: Based on equality under the law and my interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, I morally oppose using economic incentives to favor certain, politically connected companies at the expense of other local businesses.

It is not the role of government to pick winners and losers in businesses which are private in nature. I realize my stance may cost me votes in the business community; however, I cherish standing on my own principles more than I do winning popularity contests. Somebody should take a stand – might as well start with me.

 

Q: What is something the county is not doing that it should be?

A: The county should do a better job of remembering the first charge of any government, at any level, which is to protect the life, liberty and justly acquired property of its citizens. This includes protecting the environment and our natural resources as we experience explosive and record growth. Our water supply is under duress from overconsumption and pollution run-off. The state government has failed in its duties and this places more responsibility on us, the folks who actually live here.

 

Diane Honeycutt

Party Affiliation: Republican | Incumbent

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing Cabarrus County? What is your plan to address that issue?

A: It comes as no surprise that managing the growth is a big challenge.

As a commissioner, finding the balance between providing services that our citizens want and deserve, providing mandated services, funding the capital needs of our two school systems and maintaining the capital needs of the county while maintaining a low tax rate is extremely difficult.

We all know in our personal lives that cost of living goes up every year, but for many taxpayers the expectation of the local government is that taxes should not go up. Of course, costs go up for the county government also. On the other hand, I have citizens tell me daily that we should raise our taxes so that we can meet all of the county’s needs.

 

Q: What is your stance on utilizing incentives to bring in companies to this area or keep existing ones?

A: Having served on the Cabarrus County Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors prior to becoming a commissioner, I had the opportunity to get an inside look into the world of economic development. That experience taught me to be open to hear what is important to the needs of companies that are considering relocating to Cabarrus County. Then, once we know that, evaluate the impact this company could have on our community and make the decision that is best for our citizens and county.

So, absolutely, I am open to incentives where it makes sense. When a tax incentive is granted, the company must pay its taxes prior to receiving the incentive. So the county makes money from day one, knowing at the end of the incentive we have 100 percent taxes coming to the county. Since coming on board as a commissioner in December of 2013, we have had 30 companies relocate to Cabarrus County, 3,700-plus jobs as well as over $800 million in investment.

In addition, our citizens have access to quality jobs. With these jobs, our citizens now have disposable income to support their families as well as our local businesses. These companies, in many cases, prove to be good corporate citizens, supporting local non-profits and contributing to meeting our community’s needs.

 

Q: What is something the county is not doing that it should be?

A: We must provide the capital needs for our schools, provide all mandated services and keep the county government running smoothly, which obviously takes a significant amount of funding.

Meeting these needs can make it difficult to provide the desired needs. With the growth in the county, we are in need of parks, libraries and human services (in other geographic locations in the county), just to name a few.

 

Blake Kiger

Party Affiliation: Republican | Incumbent

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing Cabarrus County? What is your plan to address that issue?

A: Currently, Cabarrus County has 39 openings in the public safety arena. This is a problem because, at its very core, government exists to protect the rights of its citizens. To live in a safe community is of paramount importance.

We are working on increasing pay, improving the work environment and providing training sessions to improve our competitiveness in a difficult hiring environment. The legislature has provided more state personnel than our courthouse will support. We currently have five judges and four courtrooms. State law requires we provide the building; therefore, the current board has hired an architect to begin construction on a new courthouse.

 

Q: What is your stance on utilizing incentives to bring in companies to this area or keep existing ones?

A: Our current board has dramatically improved the business climate in Cabarrus County and, as a business owner in Cabarrus County, I would like to continue this trend.

In 2014, the Charlotte Business Journal had a headline that read, ‘Cabarrus County is Closed for Business.’ This was due specifically to the policies of the previous board. By contrast, our current policies have spurred economic growth and, since 2014, have led to 32 companies, 3,700 new jobs and $800 million in new investment.

My goal is for us to continue to move forward with a favorable business climate. When we attract business, we attract jobs that have higher wages than our current county average. Higher wages also allow us to better provide important services that many citizens enjoy, such as parks and libraries.

 

Q: What is something the county is not doing that it should be?

A: I think Cabarrus County is doing a good job of identifying programs that the local citizens want while balancing keeping the tax rate down in fairness to all the property owners that pay the lion’s share of the bills.

The county is an administrative agent of the state legislature, so we are given parameters in which to operate and services we are to provide. The county must then prioritize. There are areas that need attention, such as early childhood development.

What makes Cabarrus County great is that instead of just funding a new program, the leaders of the community work in collaboration to assess the situation and try to determine the best course of action. A new Early Childhood Development Task Force was recently created with a broad spectrum of participants to help provide leadership and solutions.

 

Amos McClorey

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing Cabarrus County? What is your plan to address that issue?

A: Cabarrus County’s single biggest issue won’t subside, nor will it be fixed, in the near future when faced with increasing needs for reinvestment in resources and services – ranging from health and social care, to education and fixing infrastructure – when current sources of revenue are mainly based on regressive taxation: property tax, sales tax and user fees.

Not to mention, Cabarrus is saturated with pockets of poverty-laden communities. Yet we see spending on building and parking places, quickly changing Cabarrus to north Charlotte. My plan when elected is to rethink these sources of income and take a serious look at where Cabarrus County’s needs are not being utilized – on communities without timely fire protection, communities without police protection, neighborhood schools, etc.

 

Q: What is your stance on utilizing incentives to bring in companies to this area or keep existing ones?

A: Company incentives are necessary to stay competitive for local government. I don’t know any specific incentives; however, I understand and agree with the incentives as long as they stay within reason.

 

Q: What is something the county is not doing that it should be?

A: Cabarrus County, in all its growth, continues to be a county that shies away from monitory leadership within county government and appears to have no plans to change.

Left out of the ‘America Thrives Here’ and substandard housing – nothing is being done about that. If there is a plan, who knows because communities within the county look the same way they did 50 years ago.

This county continues to have five commissioners, just as it did in the 1790s when 5,000 was the population. Why not increase the commissioners to seven?

 

Jeffrey W. Phillips

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing Cabarrus County? What is your plan to address that issue?

A: It’s the growing pains that Cabarrus County is experiencing at this moment. Our highway infrastructure and our schools have not been able to keep up with the growth in the last eight years.

Being a former member of the Rowan Cabarrus Transportation Authority Commission and a Harrisburg councilman for eight years, I have formed relationships with NCDOT and town leaders, and I think I can cut through some of the red tape with NCDOT to get roads developed, bridges built, traffic lights installed.

I helped build the bridge in Harrisburg. I experienced eight years of that. My first month of being a councilperson, that’s when I found out they were going to expand the railroad and close five roads. Growth is good, but we need to take a deep breath and just think a little bit about what we need to improve and let our highways, infrastructure and schools catch up.

 

Q: What is your stance on utilizing incentives to bring in companies to this area or keep existing ones?

A: I believe we need to just keep the existing ones and, possibly, temporarily halt tax incentives and grants to large companies coming to Cabarrus.

I truly believe the two-cent tax increase that the county commissioners put on the residents this past year, they blamed it all on schools, which is true, but if Amazon and all these large companies would have paid their share of taxes, there would not have been a tax increase.

If we’re going to halt the tax incentives to large companies, we can provide facade grants to large and small businesses so we can make their appearance more attractive within the county and we can draw smaller businesses and corporations to these buildings.

A facade grant is for the front of these buildings…paint, new roof, new parking lots. We did that in Harrisburg and it worked nicely. It helped spruce up a lot of the older buildings on 49.

 

Q: What is something the county is not doing that it should be?

A: We need to better understand and patrol and prevent the opiate epidemic. Unfortunately, we’re number one in the state in opiate abuse, and we need to do a better job of preventing this and talking to residents and the drug companies that provide all this opiate medicine. Unfortunately, that’s a big item here in Cabarrus County.

Another thing I worry about is mental health, not only here in Cabarrus County but nationwide. It’s one of those things that I don’t think we have a good understanding of…the impact of that. We need to work with our mental health folks.

 

Lynn Shue

Party Affiliation: Republican | Incumbent

Every effort was made to offer Mr. Shue an opportunity to participate in this issue. There was no reply to our requests.

 


 


Horace Stainback

Party Affiliation: Democrat

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing Cabarrus County? What is your plan to address that issue?

A: Gentrification. Our county is having a population increase that is both large and sociologically diverse. How to value both the more and less wealthy population will be a challenge for this area. Harrisburg had the first highly publicized test. I believe they failed that test. Extreme foresight for the future of Cabarrus will be key to this area’s success for all.


Q: What is your stance on utilizing incentives to bring in companies to this area or keep existing ones?

A: I believe in very limited use of incentives because taxpayer money is other people’s money. Any incentives granted should have solid, monitored requirements with penalties if agreements are not kept.

 

Q: What is something the county is not doing that it should be?

A: Education should be fully funded. The detention operation should be fully funded so as not to rely on commercial funding and practices that unfairly, financially penalize the family members of detainees.

 

 

 

CABARRUS COUNTY SHERIFF

Four-Year Term | Non-Partisan

 

Gary L. Rodgers

Every effort was made to offer Mr. Rodgers an opportunity to participate in this issue. There was no reply to our requests.

 

Van Shaw

Q: Law enforcement relations with communities across the county have been strained in recent years. How do you plan to address this within Cabarrus County?

A: During the 31 years of my law enforcement career, I have engaged with a broad spectrum of community groups and their leadership. I will continue to reach out to our community and faith-based organizations and special interest groups.

Currently, at the sheriff’s office, we have outreach programs such as the Community Watch Program and our Community Police Division that provide for meetings to allow for Cabarrus County citizens to have their concerns heard.

Open communication and transparency need to be occurring on a daily basis, and not only when there is a crisis in the community. Working together and communicating effectively will not only help to address the concerns of the community, but will also create better relations with law enforcement and provide for a safer Cabarrus County.

 

Q: What approach to law enforcement separates you from your opponent?

A: I started my law enforcement career with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and worked my way through the ranks to become the deputy director. Since retiring from the SBI, I have worked at the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office; I currently serve as the chief deputy. These years of experience allow me to have an approach that not only focuses on the daily delivery of law enforcement services to our citizens, but also to have a vision for the future for the agency and the county.

 

Q: What experiences do you have that make you the best qualified candidate for sheriff?

A: My law enforcement career began in 1987 with the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation as a special agent. I was assigned to Cabarrus County and have resided here since that initial assignment. I served in various positions that dealt with an array of law enforcement issues, including criminal and drug investigations, special operations, budgeting and finance, and administration.

In 2015, I came to the Cabarrus County Sheriff’s Office and supervised the Criminal Investigation Division, Vice, Narcotics and Gang Enforcement, Crime Scene Investigation, Sex Offender Enforcement and the Warrant Service Section.

My opponent is a detention supervisor with the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office. He is not certified as a law enforcement officer by the State of North Carolina and does not have arrest powers. This experience and certification is critical.

 

 

CABARRUS COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION

Four-Year Term | Non-Partisan

 

Laura Blackwell

Q: There is an obvious need for more schools in Cabarrus County, but how do you justify $72 million for one high school, knowing we need several more?

A: Unfortunately, $72 million was just the initial bid. The final bid accepted was $77 million. Problems with the soil on the site have meant that we have had to take an additional $860,000 from the contingency fund. We have now had to delay the opening to 2020. In addition, there will be multiple work orders and other technology expenses that will inevitably come along with West Cabarrus High School. We have had to finance approximately $59 million.

Knowing that most of the other high schools are either at or above capacity, spending so much money on one high school is completely unacceptable.

Cox Mill was built in 2009 for $44 million. The information available regarding price and square footage on the Cabarrus County Schools’ website of the new high school indicates that we are spending about $320 per square foot on West Cabarrus – 54 percent more than the average.

Being on the school board means being a good steward of taxpayer dollars.

 

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing our students today and how would you address that issue?

A: The biggest issue facing the students is the curriculum. Parents that I’ve spoken with are losing confidence in the education that their children are receiving in the public school system.

It is estimated that there are 1.69 million students that are currently homeschooled and, according to research, is set to increase an average of 4 percent every year.

As a parent of two children in the school system, I have firsthand knowledge of the struggle that is ‘common core’ mathematics. Worse, tangible textbooks have become obsolete. Children with real books are retaining much more information than those with online sources only.

Are we preparing our children to be productive members of society by giving them a free pass on homework and grading? Are we doing our children a favor by teaching them how to score on a standardized test rather than real-life problem-solving skills? Have we lost sight of their comprehension and what education should be?

Teachers need the freedom to teach and be dynamic in their classrooms for the betterment of our students, not provide process-driven instruction to fill in circles with a pencil on a state exam.

 

Q: Safety in our schools is a big concern. What would you propose to make our schools safer from gun violence?

A: After speaking with Van Shaw, we believe that Cabarrus County would benefit on multiple levels from basing the number of SROs on the layout of the school and the number of children that attend.

We do have a current School Safety Task Force that I intend on participating in if elected to the school board. We would like to individually assess each location with members of the task force that include school administration, sheriff’s department and school board members. Through this assessment, we would determine how many SROs would adequately serve that location.

School resource officers are also supposed to be a ‘resource’ to the children and parents of that school. It is extremely difficult for one officer to be able to be an accessible resource when there are so many students at one location.

Our mission in Cabarrus County is to raise the bar. We need to be doing that by not only providing one SRO per location, but by what is most effective and in the best interest of our students and their safety.

 

Richard L. Bovard

Q: There is an obvious need for more schools in Cabarrus County, but how do you justify $72 million dollars for one high school, knowing we need several more?

A: I also have a concern about the level of costs for a $72-million new high school facility, particularly when the school system has projected $400 million of additional school construction needs over the next 10 years. 

The school system does not have taxing authority and relies on Cabarrus County to provide the funding for construction costs. Accordingly, it is important for school and county boards to have ongoing discussions about the status of construction projects. Projects should also be designed with flexibility so costs can be reduced in certain areas if budget overruns are experienced.

The school system has been using a 10-year long-term planning time horizon; however, considering it can take several years from the initial decision to actual construction, I believe a longer planning period should be used, perhaps a 15-year plan. 

Finally, future new school projects should incorporate areas for the potential future installation of modular/mobile units. Cabarrus Schools’ experience has been that there will be a need for such additions to accommodate growing enrollments that outpace our ability to add new schools.

 

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing our students today and how would you address that issue?

A: Students need to see a link between how they perform in school today and having opportunities to be successful in their adult lives. I believe there are two key steps to helping students see how their education has a direct impact on their future success.

First, we need to ensure that all students are receiving effective counseling and mentoring. Some students are receiving the support they need at home from their parents and other mentors. However, some students are not getting that same level of support at home and need additional guidance/advice as they try to navigate our education system.

Second, we need to realize that approximately 70 percent of our students are not going to attend college. However, currently, Cabarrus Schools has only about 25 percent of its students participating in career/technical education classes. We should seek to expand career- and vocational-related education opportunities to 50 percent or more of our students. This will help them get a better start in the workforce after high school graduation.

 

Q: Safety in our schools is a big concern. What would you propose to make our schools safer from gun violence?

A: On a system-wide basis, continued training should be provided to school administrators and staff on school violence prevention, threat assessment to detect potential risks and how to effectively respond to incidents. At the individual school level, periodic independent reviews should be conducted of security measures and emergency preparedness plans.

Cabarrus County schools are fortunate to have school resource officers assigned to every school. However, we should continue to look for ways to strengthen our working relationships with local law enforcement.

With respect to potential internal threats, teachers should receive continued training related to early identification of potential threats, including mental health concerns.

Schools are most vulnerable at the beginning and end of the day when students are coming and going. We should consider obtaining additional resources from local law enforcement for these parts of the days.

Finally, I do not support any mandatory requirements for staff at schools to be armed with firearms. Rather, all staff should be trained on how to more effectively work with the school resource officer.

However, if a school staff member (for example, a former member of the military) has a voluntary interest in being armed while at school, then I would be supportive of that with certain conditions being met. School staff members who volunteer to be armed would need to be subjected to rigorous background checks, complete extensive training that would be developed in conjunction with our local law enforcement agencies, and local law enforcement needs to be informed of all such voluntarily armed individuals at our schools.

 

Carolyn Carpenter

Incumbent

Q: There is an obvious need for more schools in Cabarrus County, but how do you justify $72 million for one high school, knowing we need several more?

A: I wasn’t happy, but we had the cost of steel being a real factor, the high cost of construction and the cost of timing…other construction going on at the same time. With new sites, we’ve had rain and soil drainage problems.

Knowing we need a lot more, we might look into cloning schools. Cloning is where we have built a school and we rebuild the same school (floorplan). We’d have to get legislation for that. We’ve done it before with elementary schools. We could also look at trying to get COP (certificate of participation) bonds or pay-as-you-go – get the lowest possible rates.

More than four years ago, I suggested land banking. We are purchasing land now; it’s cheaper to buy now. 

We’re trying to find a builder to build and we lease it back from them…pay them to build to our specs. We looked at commercial property but it’s very expensive. So we’ve gone back to old sites, like Odell. We look at all options.

 

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing our students today and how would you address that issue?

A: My biggest issue is making sure our students are job-ready when they go into the job market. We’ve already done some of this by adding our academies to all our high schools. The CTE (Career & Technical Education) program offers internships that we’re hoping to expand. Students can graduate and get a job immediately.

I want to add more trades for individuals who won’t be going to college. RCCC has been a wonderful partner.

 

Q: Safety in our schools is a big concern. What would you propose to make our schools safer from gun violence?

A: We are actually above the curve in school systems; we have a safety officer assigned to all our schools. We need more SROs (safety resource officers) in each middle and high school. We can apply for more grants to pay for that.

Every time a budget comes up, I talk about vestibules. We have them in our elementary schools. They give the people in the office the extra minute they need to check out who is coming in. We need to finish putting vestibules into the middle schools and two remaining high schools.

We need to make sure all staff knows what to do in the case of an event – not just shootings, but fires, tornados. They need to know the evacuation plan. There are safety teams. We interview principals and staff, asking them if they practice their drills. We grade them on it. One life is too many. I tell people to stay calm, know their surroundings and know their exits.

I have 182 hours of continuing education so I will be equipped in doing my job better and will be able to help in these situations. Remember the six Cs: Carolyn Carpenter Cares about the Children of Cabarrus County.

 

Cheryl Harris Curtis

Q: There is an obvious need for more schools in Cabarrus County, but how do you justify $72 million for one high school, knowing we need several more?

A: On the local level, funds for public elementary and secondary schools usually come from property taxes. Thus, depending upon the wealth of a community, the budget for major school construction may be in excess of the funding necessary to build, or, there could be a struggle to meet even minimum financial structural specifications that address community needs and desires.

This is what is known in education as a funding gap. To mitigate funding gaps in communities where the monies from property taxes might not be as lofty as some areas within the same district, the communities and its members must work collaboratively to ensure that there are equitable means to finance major school construction projects – regardless of the zip code or the property values and taxes of a particular district’s residents.

 

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing our students today and how would you address that issue?

A: One of the single biggest issues is students being prepared to be viable citizens who live in a world where the jobs that they will need to perform to support society do not yet exist.

Statistically, one of the single, greatest predictors of student success is the skillset of the teachers that are a part of that student’s educational career. Thus, professional development that affords teachers the supports and continued honing of their professionalism is necessary.

As we become a more diverse community with needs that are forever changing, teachers that feel supported and who are allowed the growth to obtain the fortitude to provide students with a toolkit that includes higher level thinking skills, critical thinking skills, sticktoitiveness and the adaptability to meet the demands of whatever the future holds are a necessity.

When teachers are better equipped to help our students, students will have the wherewithal to meet the challenges of a world unknown, but one in which they can thrive and prosper.

 

Q: Safety in our schools is a big concern. What would you propose to make our schools safer from gun violence?

A: Adequate training and hyper-vigilance are the keys to thwarting any destructiveness of those wanting to harm our students. All school stakeholders, to include faculty, staff, students, parents and community members, have to been trained in how to mitigate the potentiality of gun violence happening in our schools.

Additionally, we have to know what to do should gun violence occur in our schools. We all have to be hypervigilant in order to understand the signs that someone might want to do harm to students or commit acts of violence on a school campus. We all have to be aware of the steps we can take to make our environment safe and for all to feel protected.

The best way to prepare for gun violence is to make sure that it never happens. Thus, we have to be aware of what a soft target is and how we can prevent our schools from being one. It is unfortunate that we now live in a world where gun safety is an issue. Our preparedness will be the difference between having a safe school or having schools victimized by violence.

 

Carol Hampton Gray

Every effort was made to offer Ms. Gray an opportunity to participate in this issue. There was no reply to our requests.

 

Holly Grimsley

Q: There is an obvious need for more schools in Cabarrus County, but how do you justify $72 million for one high school, knowing we need several more?

A: My first gut reaction is that I don’t know if, as a school board candidate, we should be justifying that number. But, at the end of the day, I know that construction is definitely at an all-time high.

At the same time, when I was on the board, we had done construction standards. We did complete – from top to bottom – architectural profit, design profit, budget, how you select land...

I’m a general contractor so I was a part of that. That was very important to me because, if that’s not your area of expertise, that’s one area that can get out of control very quickly.

But then I found out they were not really using those construction standards when I came off the board in 2012. So I really want to see us reinstate those. I think that’ll put us back in line with the process of land selection and site development. I think there are a lot of areas in construction, especially in this new high school, that the construction standards would have benefitted.

 

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing our students today and how would you address that issue?

A: I think one of the most important, and it has been a problem for a long time, is this all-in social media/family factor. In today’s world – and I’m a working mom too and always have been – but the family unit works a little different. A lot of parents are headed to work and work a lot, and one of the worst things is that kids aren’t spending as much time as a family unit or not as much in the same capacity. So I would like to see more parents really chip in with their kids with the school system and to be more involved so there’s a good line of communication.

I feel like every time we’ve heard one of these stories about shootings, it’s always been with kids with some type of disconnect from family. Home life is the real foundation of a child – how they react, how they respond, their behavior.

We’ve got to get bullying under control. There’s got to be better enforcement, better reporting…I’m not sure exactly what the tell-all answer to that is, but I’m just thinking if we could get kids feeling better about school, get them to feel more involved. That’s why I’ve always supported athletic clubs, the boys & girls clubs.

There’s a disconnect and that’s definitely one area I think we need to concentrate on. I think if we can make a connection with those kids in some manner that reaches them on their level, with whatever’s going on, we can really get some good answers.

 

Q: Safety in our schools is a big concern. What would you propose to make our schools safer from gun violence?

A: I really feel like it’s time that we start putting some metal detectors in place. I am not for teachers being armed with guns, for all the right reasons – even trained teachers. That’s a possible chaotic situation and things could go really bad, really fast.

We have to keep the guns on the outside of that building. Once they’re in there, you have a very uncontrolled environment. You don’t know what you’d do until you’re presented with that situation.

So my thought is this: It might take a little longer to get them checked in for school, we might have to change that process, the day might have to work a little different but, at the end of the day, keeping the guns on the outside of that building is our answer.

 

Jeffrey King

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

 

Darek Lamar McCullers

Q: There is an obvious need for more schools in Cabarrus County, but how do you justify $72 million for one high school, knowing we need several more?

A: While it would not be prudent to discontinue the West Cabarrus High School project, the mistakes (in my opinion) that were made can be instructive for myself (if elected) and current school board members.

What I would like to see is more thorough vetting of potential sites upon which we build new schools, and whatever company we contracted for this project should not be used going forward, as their apparent miscalculations have been costly.

The problem with regards to the need for new schools is simple, though. There is not enough money in the treasury to meet the needs and, therefore, new money must come from somewhere. I favor working with what will hopefully be a new legislative delegation to get impact fees as a policy again.

Short of that, we could look at a school bond; however, all projects – even in the proposal stage – must have a thorough review process.

If elected, I will do everything to be sure that we, as a school board, do that and avoid debacles such as the problems with the West Cabarrus High School project.

 

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing our students today and how would you address that issue?

A: The single biggest issue, from my vantage point, is ‘teaching to the test.’ It is my position that we need to rely less on End of Course testing – in its state standardized form – and put more power back into the local school and the individual classroom teacher. The teacher knows the students best and should be allowed to make the assessments.

With this type of system, there could be standardized tests across the district at certain grade levels to give the kind of aggregate data that is needed to steer educational policies and procedures. Giving the teacher more flexibility to control the classroom is the better way the ensure that ‘no child is left behind,’ to use that program’s phraseology.

 

Q: Safety in our schools is a big concern. What would you propose to make our schools safer from gun violence?

A: One of the best ways to ensure safety in the schools is to procure as much parental involvement with their own children as possible. If we are being honest, that’s where much of the problems originate. Since, however, children spend a large chunk of their day in school, by law we function ‘in loc parentis.’ As such, we must see that adequate protections are in place.

Every school should have adequate equipment, such as shields in the administrative offices and doorstops in every classroom.

While this is a funding issue, I certainly support taking a look at the feasibility of having one or two security officers in each school to supplement the school safety officers that are already present, thus allowing a more coordinated and efficient response to crisis emanating from both outside and inside the school environments.

 

Catherine Bonds Moore

Q: There is an obvious need for more schools in Cabarrus County, but how do you justify $72 million for one high school, knowing we need several more?

A: I know there have been some unforeseen issues that have come about with the new high school. There are a lot of state guidelines that must be followed when building a school, and especially a high school.

Land cost in Cabarrus County is soaring and the state mandates construction standards with classroom sizes and number of students.

A high school requires more land for all athletic activities and events. If the local school board was able to be more flexible, then I am sure it would be more cost-effective to build new schools. It is a beautiful building and I know the community will also enjoy using the facilities

 

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing our students today and how would you address that issue?

A: Students deserve a quality education in a safe environment. We have so many children with different learning styles and individual needs to be met.

Teaching is a hard job with long hours, and our teachers need to be treated as professionals so we can retain qualified teachers. Sometimes teachers do not have the necessary staff and services needed to meet all the challenges in the classroom.

Every child is unique, with different abilities, and we need to make sure we are meeting their social, emotional and academic needs. We need to make sure appropriate resources are made available to help our students become successful in preparation for their future goals. We’ve got to meet children’s needs.

 

Q: Safety in our schools is a big concern. What would you propose to make our schools safer from gun violence?

A: All parents and school staff want to know their children are safe at all times. As a retired counselor from Cabarrus County Schools, with 35 years of experience, I know every school has a crisis management team that works closely with our school resource officers. We need the funding for more resource officers and mental health positions to help in training staff, students and community in dealing with crisis situations. We need to be sure we are having enough drills in the schools for staff and students to feel prepared for any crisis. A child must feel safe before learning can take place. 

 

Hunter Moore

Q: There is an obvious need for more schools in Cabarrus County, but how do you justify $72 million for one high school, knowing we need several more?

A: I’m not sure I can justify spending $72 million on one school with the needs that we have, but I certainly wouldn’t say that the project is full of waste. I view the school’s purpose in two ways. One is to address new growth in the county, the other is to alleviate overcrowding that is currently impacting schools in the area. This will be a large school with options for more class space when time demands such space.

My only substantial concern is the obstacles faced with the site itself that increased cost. It seems that some of the issues, such as the bad rocky soil, should have been noticed before we even decided on the property. To me, it shows that we as a system need to improve on doing our due diligence before purchasing a property.

I would also note that I believe we should always be looking at the designs of our schools to find ways to utilize space more efficiently, which would save on cost.

 

Q: What is the single biggest issue facing our students today and how would you address that issue?

A: I believe the biggest issue facing our students today is that they are being taken advantage of and being used as numbers, not recognized as individuals. Instead of focusing on students’ needs and development, the focus tends to be on testing.

It is time we focus on students as the individuals they are by expanding on our program choice options like STEM, IB and the academics we have at our high schools. Offering a wide array of programs allows students to choose what works for them and interests them. As a result, we have more engaged and equipped students who are overall happier and more successful in school and after graduation.

I would try to get the board to take another look at the MasteryConnect program. In multiple discussions with teachers they have indicated that this program is not good for students because it requires more testing and less instructional time. The state and federal government already mandate enough testing; we should not add to that burden for the sake of our students.

 

Q: Safety in our schools is a big concern. What would you propose to make our schools safer from gun violence?

A: When it comes to preventing a student from becoming a shooter, the teachers and school resource officers (SROs) I have talked to all seem to agree that increasing funding for counselors and social workers would be beneficial. We currently have social workers stretched between two or three schools where they are limited on the time they can spend or the impact they can make.

We need to make sure we have the people in place to identify students that need help, and that are qualified to help those students. Without that we will continue to have students fall through the cracks and encounter problems we could have avoided.

In the event of a shooter being from outside of the school, I believe having an SRO is a great first step; however, I will not profess to be an expert.

I would focus on working with our law enforcement community to discuss options that they as professionals feel will be beneficial, even if that would mean we need to take a new look at the way we design schools. I would not, however, try to force a narrative or idea without actually listening and learning from those who know much more on the topic than I do. The one commitment I can make is that I do NOT support arming our teachers.

 

Vince Powell

Incumbent

Q: There is an obvious need for more schools in Cabarrus County, but how do you justify $72 million for one high school, knowing we need several more?

A: I cannot justify spending what is being spent and I don’t agree with what we’re spending on high schools when we need so many schools.

We don’t need to spend so much on amenities. We have a growing population of mobile units and that’s fine, but it has a big impact on the students’ playing environment.

Each time we build a high school, we try to match it to schools we’ve already built. A lot of those schools have later been upfit with fundraisers. We don’t all of a sudden need to start with all those amenities. Northwest Cabarrus doesn’t have a track and their field house is very undersized.

 

 Q: What is the single biggest issue facing our students today and how would you address that issue?

A: I would say it’s school choice (open enrollment). Students have so many options and choices. Sometimes that can be a struggle if you don’t want to go to your home school.

Our students want for nothing. We have wonderful teachers, we have technology. There’s such a complex sort of plan, but all kinds of options. Even transportation is provided in some cases.

 

Q: Safety in our schools is a big concern. What would you propose to make our schools safer from gun violence?

A: We have SROs (student resource officers) in every building now. There should not be no-SRO accesses/exits.

We need an armed officer on every campus, period. If we can’t do that, then we need to talk about options, whether it’s an off-duty police officer. We have grant money to put SROs in place.

 

Scott Irving Wagner

Every effort was made to offer Mr. Wagner an opportunity to participate in this issue. There was no reply to our requests.

 

 

N.C. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE – SEAT 2

Four-Year Term | Non-Partisan

 

Juanita Boger-Allen

Q: What do you do when the law on the books conflicts with your personal beliefs?

 A: Sometimes when deciding the meaning of a statute/law and its application to a case, a judge is required to reach a result with which he/she does not personally agree. However, it should make no difference what a judge’s personal views are. Judges are charged to interpret the laws and to protect the constitutional rights of all citizens. Judges take an oath to support the laws regardless of his/her personal beliefs.

Everyone is entitled to a neutral judge who has no predisposition to the facts of a case or the law. Each day, when judges put on that black robe, it should be as though they are retaking their oath of office, which is to fulfill their constitutional duties and to support the laws as they are written and not as how they might wish they were written.

The job of writing and amending the law belongs exclusively to the legislature. As for amendments to our state constitution, I, as a judge, get to express my personal view alongside other registered voters at the ballot box and not on the bench.

 

Q: Do you lean more towards the “spirit of the law” or the “letter of the law?”

A: In general, I lean towards the letter of the law. However, after practicing law for nearly 20 years, I have learned that the letter of the law can be and is often interpreted differently for various reasons. In cases when the interpretation of the letter of the law is at issue, I believe that a judge should look at the spirit of the law.  The spirit of the law is the reasoning behind why the law was enacted and what it was trying to achieve.

 As a judge, when ruling on a case, I will carefully consider the facts of the case and the letter of the law when rendering a decision and, when necessary, I will take the additional step and look at the spirit of the law.

 

Q: Most judges claim to be “tough, but fair.” How do you define that term and how would you exemplify it?

A: I believe that most people believe that being tough means to be mean. I disagree. I would define being tough as a judge as being able to make difficult decisions with strength and grace. I would define being fair as a judge as being just in your rulings and treating people equally, without favoritism or discrimination.

Based on my definition, I would say that I am tough and fair.

 

James DeMay

Q: What do you do when the law on the books conflicts with your personal beliefs?

 A: A judge should fairly apply the law as it is written, even if that application is in conflict with the judge’s own personal beliefs. To quote Justice Scalia, ‘To be a good judge, you must resign yourself to the fact that you’re not always going to like the conclusions you reach. If you like them all the time, you’re probably doing something wrong.’

 

Q: Do you lean more towards the “spirit of the law” or the “letter of the law?”

 A: The law should be interpreted according to its plain language – not a hyper-technical interpretation, but an interpretation that comports with common sense and the ordinary usage of the words used by the legislature. To look beyond the plain language of the law exposes its interpretation to the preferences and biases of the individual.

 

 Q: Most judges claim to be “tough, but fair.” How do you define that term and how would you exemplify it?

 A: The notion of ‘tough, but fair’ implies that a judge should provide all parties with the due process guaranteed by the Constitution and with a full and fair opportunity to be heard, but that the judge should also strictly enforce the law without any leniency or exception.

As judge, I will treat all parties and attorneys with respect and courtesy, will give full and thoughtful consideration to all the evidence and arguments presented before me, and will firmly and strictly apply the law without any favor or bias.

 

 

Michael Knox

Q: What do you do when the law on the books conflicts with your personal beliefs?

 A: The laws on the books are the law. It is not the job of a judge to interpret or re-interpret a law of this state in order to bring it in line with his/her personal beliefs. Personal beliefs are just that: personal.

Every private citizen is free to have these personal beliefs and opinions, as is a judge in private life. However, a judge cannot and should not be allowed to force those beliefs onto others using the power of the office.  That being said, if a law were to be in conflict with my personal beliefs, as a judge I would be sworn to uphold the law and Constitution and would rule accordingly.

 

Q: Do you lean more towards the “spirit of the law” or the “letter of the law?”

A: I believe that the spirit of the law is always embodied in the letter of the law and you do not have to be entirely one or the other. In cases where there is inherent discretion in a judge’s ability to apply the law, I will do so with sincere consideration and appreciation for the unique people and circumstances of each case.

 

Q: Most judges claim to be “tough, but fair.” How do you define that term and how would you exemplify it?

A: Tough, but fair means different things to different people. Many think it means always giving the maximum allowed sentence in a criminal case. That is an easy way out for a judge.

Tough, but fair also has application in civil cases. Each person and each situation comes with a unique set of facts and factors, which should always be considered fully and objectively, and the judgment or sentence rendered should always take these things into account. After considering those facts and factors, if the situation warrants it, then the maximum sentence or consequence should be applied. Alternatively, in cases where lenience is warranted, that too should be given.

Tough, but fair means taking all the facts and circumstances into account and then making a decision without fear of reprisal or disapproval.

 

 

N.C. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE – SEAT 3

Four-Year Term | Non-Partisan

 

Darrin Gamradt

Q: What do you do when the law on the books conflicts with your personal beliefs?

A: While it is important to recognize that we are all human and our personal beliefs can play a role in how we operate, the ‘law on the books’ is controlling. A judge’s job is to enforce the law that the legislature has passed, consistent with the Constitution of the United States, the North Carolina Constitution and the North Carolina General Statutes.

The law allows judge’s discretion in certain areas, but not in others. Where the law allows discretion, I intend on being a fair and impartial judge, giving full opportunity to the parties to be heard and enforcing the law justly.

 

Q: Do you lean more towards the “spirit of the law” or the “letter of the law?”

A: I believe that a judge’s role is to enforce the law as it is written, and as higher courts have interpreted and applied it. In areas where there is ambiguity in the law, there is a process for a judge to determine how to apply the law.

Starting with the Constitution, the statutes, applicable federal court decisions and state court decisions, a judge has a wide body of information to lean on when interpreting statutes and applying them. In addition, there is either a burden of proof or a burden of particularity that a judge can apply to every situation in determining which way to balance the facts and the law. The legislature’s intention should not be a large factor for a judge to use when interpreting or applying the law.

 

Q: Most judges claim to be “tough, but fair.” How do you define that term and how would you exemplify it?

A: I believe that tough, but fair is an appropriate motto for a judge. While people are entitled to second chances, repeat offenders and habitual offenders should be treated appropriately.

As a judge I would use the discretion afforded to the office to show lenience and mercy when appropriate, and show fortitude and toughness when necessary so as to protect the community.

In a civil setting tough, but fair also applies, as some parties require a firm hand in recognizing the truly important issues in their cases, and assistance in preserving as much of a family unit as possible for the benefit of the family and children.

 

Steven Grossman

Q: What do you do when the law on the books conflicts with your personal beliefs?

A:  A judge must follow the law. All people have different beliefs, but the law is the foundation of an ordered society. Personal beliefs must not conflict with the application of the law in cases.

A good judge must apply the law equally, fairly and justly to all cases, no matter who is involved. To do so, one’s personal beliefs must give way to the application of the law.

 

Q: Do you lean more towards the “spirit of the law” or the “letter of the law?”

A: A good judge should follow the letter of the law and I would certainly do that.

In a criminal case, one could apply the spirit of the law to sentencing, perhaps. For example, in a larceny case, one would not likely sentence the same way for the person who steals a loaf of bread to feed his children the same way one would sentence someone who steals electronics to play games. That is more the spirit of the law and what it was intended to control. One still shouldn’t steal, of course, but there is built into the sentencing authority some level of compassion for circumstances.

The law must be applied equally to all, but the facts of each particular case must be considered as it applies to that person. More complicated are those domestic or family law cases where a judge has to follow the law as to how to decide the future of a family in turmoil. The law sets out the rules but the judge has to also apply the facts to that particular situation to do what is best to resolve those differences.

 

Q: Most judges claim to be “tough, but fair.” How do you define that term and how would you exemplify it?

A: I’m not sure ‘tough, but fair’ is not just a political label used in a campaign. The most important part of a judge’s job is to follow the law. Many times that leads to ‘tough’ sentences.

Each case must be decided on its own merits and the facts of that particular case. All judges are tough when needed, such as in a criminal case where one has multiple prior offenses. Their sentencing would likely be different than a first offender unless the case is particularly harsh. In family law cases, which make up a large part of the district courts, fairness is much more important than being tough, in that toughness or being harsh is not particularly a part of that aspect of the law.

 

 

The Cabarrus County Board of Elections is located at 369 Church Street N., in Concord, providing information about voter registration, precinct polling places, absentee voting, etc. 

Article compiled by: Kim Cassell with questions from Jason Huddle

All photos were courtesy of the candidates, except those of candidates; Steele, Carpenter, Gamradt and H. Moore, which were courtesy of Michael A. Anderson Photography, and Candidate Brannan, whose photo was provided by Cabarrus County.

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