Karrie Louise Mead | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Karrie Louise Mead

Candidate for N.C. House District 56


Name as it appears on the ballot: Karrie Louise Mead

Date of birth: 1963

Campaign website: www.karriemead.com

Occupation & employer: Office Administration

Email: karrie@karriemead.com

1. What do you see as the most important issues facing North Carolina? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?

Jobs and Education.

1. Government does not create jobs, but government provides infrastructure that allows the private sector to flourish. Roads need paving. Bureaucracy needs streamlining. Courts need to be accessible and fair. Budget needs to be spent wisely.

2. Tuition free public education through bachelor's degree has got to be a long term goal—competiveness in the world market demands it. Curriculum needs to be modernized—this isn't the '50's and we aren't in a space race anymore.

3. Tax incentives need to focus on viable homegrown business, not low-paying outside companies. Tax breaks for new businesses, allow long-term unemployed to draw benefits while starting business if enrolled in entrepreneur programs, support for home-grown high tech.

2. What issue or issues made you want to run for this office?

Frustration with the partisan deadlock at both the federal and state level: the demagoguery, the negative campaigning, the divisiveness that has come to be American politics over the last decade or so. If reasonable people don't run (or can't get elected), we will be in a bad place for a long time.

1. The purpose of a representative is to represent their district—not their party, not their own views.

2. The legislature is intended to be a deliberative body—not that it has been functional well that way. Where representatives represent their own views rather than act as advocates for their district, when their arguments are not understood, only know how to yell louder. Advocates need to be able to explain perspectives on issues in terms that the other side can understand and respect. If you can do that, you are left with power politics, with demonizing those that disagree with you, with bad government.

3. District 56 is unique as both the most liberal and most educated district in North Carolina. It can either be written off as an outlier to North Carolina politics. Or, it can be a positive, intelligent voice in the state legislature.

3. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective in the U.S. House? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.

(Noting that this is an NC House seat, not a US Congressional seat).

My background is in Business Administration, particularly small business administration, though I have worked at various times in the public and quasi-public sector as well. I think that I have a sense of what it takes to rebuild small business in North Carolina. I currently work with an small business that provides mental health services for the poor, which additionally gives me first hand experience with the Medicaid system and directly daily interaction with some of the poorest people in our community.

4. District 56 spans from Carrboro to Hillsborough, which includes a large UNC student population. How do you plan to connect with and represent its residents? As you've campaigned, what common themes are you hearing from voters?

District 56 is exceptionally diverse in its political leanings ranging from back woods conservatives to free thinking academics, families that have lived here since before the Revolution to students who are just settling into the dorms. Of course, District 56 is dominated by the UNC community, but the function of representative is to understand and the entire range of needs and perspectives of the district.

On a personal level, for most non-university residents (and seniors), jobs and the economy are clearly among the top concerns. Tuition and fees are a very direct concern of students.

Students, in particular, also want this seat to be a conduit for new ideas and a vehicle for getting programs they care about before the legislature. As a seat that represents the most educated district in the state, it shouldn't be just a safe partisan vote, but rather should take the lead in presenting real and innovative solutions. One of the proposals that I have made in this campaign, for instance, is for the North Carolina Workers and Social Welfare Corporation, which would allow corporations that wished the ability to place social conscience and worker's rights into their articles of incorporation.

5. Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

I think that my positions supporting social justice have raised some eyebrows. Also, I oppose fracking, which may hurt me we some of the business vote.

6. What do you see as the primary sources of our state's budget problems? What measures should the General Assembly use to address them?

The obvious immediate cause is the reduction in tax revenues as a result of the contraction of the economy and increase in expenditures due to increased joblessness and poverty. A partial contributing cause is the lack of planning that would have saved money during better economic times so that there was flexibility now—but that didn't happen and it can't be fixed now. The larger view of the problem is that at both a state and national level, money has been leaving consistently over a long period of time. With real wages peaking in 1998, our economy has been founded on increasing debt—personal, corporate, and governmental—for many years. While there were several triggers to the 2008 meltdown, the underlying cause was that our consumer oriented society had increased its debt to the point where a significant part of society couldn't afford the payments.

The reason that it is important to understand this is because the mathematics says that any attempt to balance the budget by either raising taxes or cutting spending will force the economy to contract further. The need to grow the economy is obvious.

I have not signed a "no tax increase" pledge. While I believe that generic attempts to increase revenue by raising taxes will cause corresponding contraction of the state economy, I am open to specific targeted proposals and to re-examine the allocation of tax burden—something that I know is of interest to this District.

7. If you want to decrease state education spending please explain what you would cut? If you want to increase state education spending tell us what areas would see more money?

State educational spending per student is lower than the national average and it is in the state's best interest to make additional investment in education while balancing other budget priorities. A recent study by the OEDC suggests that government, on average, receives back in additional taxes 400% of its investment in education—and that is particularly true of investments in university education. Cutting back in education is a false economy; however, as an investment in the future, it has to be balanced with the realities of today and that probably means a relatively static education budget with a bias towards increase.

I do believe that North Carolina should adopt a funding model for new schools, common in other states, that places the costs of new infrastructure (including classroom space) on developers rather than the existing tax base. Part of the cost of buying a home in a new development is paying your share of the costs. That money would be freed up for classroom use.

I think that within the legislature, there are many who question whether enough of the current education expenditures are making it to the classroom. That is a separate question. Obviously everybody wants the most effective use of the money that is available.

8. What was your position on Amendment One?

I did not take a public position on Amendment One.

Amendment One was strongly opposed by this district and part of the job of the representative of this district is to represent that opposition within the legislature, both the concerns related to potential impacts on heterosexual unions as well as the gay marriage issue. As proponents of Prop 1 frequently said that it wasn't about heterosexual relationships and, in part, sold the proposition on that basis, that understanding needs to be made clear and explicit.

9. Do you support women's reproductive rights, including the "right to choose" as set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade? Do you support the recently passed state requirements on ultrasounds and waiting periods for women seeking an abortion? Do you support attempts to eliminate funds for Planned Parenthood?

This district strongly supports reproductive rights and anyone who represents this district needs to represent that conviction. That said, abortion has been the single most divisive issue in our country since slavery—largely because it came as an edict of the Court, not as a consensus of the people. The result has been 40 years of screaming. The result has been that the only way to maintain reproductive rights has been by furious defense of the Presidency and the Senate to protect a 5-4 majority. An entire generation has grown up in a political environment where Roe has been the single dominate issue. I think people are tired of it and want it to be resolved—but only on terms that they can live with.

For all of the yelling, Roe v. Wade itself is a fairly moderate decision. Blackmun went to great lengths to take into account religious, philosophic, and scientific evidence as well as contemporary morals. People should actually read the decision. However, balancing religious, philosophic, and scientific evidence is what legislatures do, not courts. Ultimately, abortion is going to have to be decided by Congress and the state legislatures and that means talking, not screaming.

I have difficulty with any advocacy group receiving government funding whether it be Catholic Charities, a Baptist Hospital, or Planned Parenthood. Government support for their charity work strengthens their advocacy work. There is nothing wrong with state funding for women's health programs. The programs just need to be politically neutral.

10. Would you support Gov. Perdue's call for a 3/4 cent increase in the sales tax or another revenue measure to restore cuts or cover other costs? Would you support a revision of the state tax code that led to an increase of revenue?

I am committed to a fair and economically sound tax and revenue system and I do not rule out tax hikes. Sales taxes have certain advantages over income taxes in terms of their economic impact on jobs; however, as currently implemented in North Carolina, have an unfair impact on the poor because a higher percentage of their income is spent on taxable items. That needs to be addressed before a sales tax hike should be considered.

11. What is your position on capital punishment and the Racial Justice Act?

I support capital punishment. I am also sensitive to the racial history of North Carolina and firmly believe that your actions should determine your punishment, not the color of your skin or your economic status. The first substantive content I posted on my website dealt with the ability of the poor to obtain justice in the criminal system. The principles and expressed goals of the Racial Justice Act are sound and perhaps even need to be enhanced. The process needs to be streamlined for the benefit of both accused and victim.

12. Both parties have been criticized for overreaching during redistrictings. Would you support an independent commission drawing the lines in the future?

Gerrymandering is a problem in American politics and the ability of a legislature to redraw its own districts in favor of one party has led to incredibly unfair multi-generational, anti-democratic domination of state government—not only in North Carolina, but in many states. Jim Crow era legislatures were entirely built around gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is a bad thing.

Independent commissions in other states have not proven to be the panacea that might have been hoped. Philosophic decision about what make "natural districts" when applied consistently over an entire state can produce results as unfair as purposefully gerrymandered districts. Consider Orange County as an example: If a commission chooses to base its House districting along the urban-rural divide (which corresponds to the political division which the country), you end up with a very liberal district representing Chapel Hill/Carrboro/Hillsborough and a more moderate district. If you divide North/South, you end up with two liberal districts dominated by the urban core. Both are defensible philosophies, but applied state-wide would lead to strong distortions towards one or the other party.

I think that it is a bit too early in the next redistricting cycle to commit to an approach. We need to see better the results of other states that have been experimenting with commissions before committing.

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