Antoine Marshall—N.C. House, District 33 (Democratic Primary) | Candidate Questionnaires - Statewide | Indy Week

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Antoine Marshall—N.C. House, District 33 (Democratic Primary)



Name as it appears on the ballot: Antoine Marshall
Campaign website:
Phone number: 919-436-5997
Years lived in the district: Raleigh native for 20 years, 5 years within the district

1. In your view, what are the three most pressing issues facing North Carolina? If elected, what will you do to address these issues?

I believe that three institutions that are the fundamental pillars of our society, namely our justice/political/and education systems are being slanted in favor of the wealthy.

Closing the civil justice gap is a driving mission of my campaign. While most know that you are entitled to an attorney if you cannot afford one, that constitutional provision only applies to criminal cases. Low-income individuals facing civil cases, which can affect whether or not you’re homeless, whether you can keep custody of your children, whether you qualify for public benefits like food stamps or Medicaid, have to be navigated without legal assistance. I would reinstate and expand the Access to Justice Act funding legal service programs. As a former legal aid employee, I knew that the organizations budget did not match the needs of the community as we had 1 legal service attorney for every 19,000 North Carolinians who live in poverty… that was before the budget cuts to Legal Services in 2015 and again in 2017. Combine that with the UNC Board of Governors removing the UNC Civil Rights Clinic from being able to litigate cases, as well as the ~30% budget cut from the Attorney General’s Office, limiting work that can be done on consumer protection work, we are preventing many North Carolinians from being able to see justice.

Our political system allows an outsized voice to be given to deep-pocketed ideologues and special interest groups. I am in favor of public financing of campaigns to ensure that voters voices aren’t drowned out by dollars. I also believe it is past time that we reflect on barriers in individuals running for office. There is a reason that the most common profession in the General Assembly is ‘retired.’ Our system is set up in a manner that has a financial barrier for dedicated citizens to serve. To get the qualified candidates from all stripes to consider running we need to eliminate that barrier by either making our legislature a full-time legislature with full-time pay and full-time staff. Or making our part-time legislature truly a part-time legislature so that individuals can maintain their jobs while serving.

The third issue I would advocate for is to combat the affordable housing issues going on within many of our cities. While affordable housing issues are typically solved by cities or counties, under the NC Constitution, local governments only have as much power as granted to them by the NC General Assembly. I would give local leaders the tools they need like the ability to institute impact fees, inclusionary zoning, or anti-NIMBY laws to solve home affordability in their areas.

2. If you are challenging an incumbent, what decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with? If you are an incumbent, what in your voting record and experience do you believe entitles you to another term?

I am challenging an incumbent. While I would never demean or besmirch the years of service by my current representative, I am running because I believe I bring a different skill set, core beliefs, and vision for the state. While I agree most of her voting record, I believe that my main disagreement would be in her activity level, or a lack thereof. During the 2017-2018 session, she has only introduced 6 bills.

I would also be more engaged with constituent outreach, establishing a monthly newsletter and quarterly town halls within the district to keep my constituents up to date on what is going on in the general assembly.

3. The state’s economy seems to be humming along nicely. How much of that do you attribute to the tax cuts enacted over the past several years? What policies would you like to see put in place to ensure growth going forward?

I believe the state’s economy is in spite of the tax cuts, not because of it. North Carolina is part of an improving economy nationally and I believe the tax cuts have very little to do with it. I would like us to look for more progressive revenue streams and investments in infrastructure and education to ensure continued growth.

4. On the other hand, much of the wealth has gone to the state’s urban centers, whereas many rural areas are struggling. While this is in many ways a national phenomenon, what can North Carolina do to address the disparities in prosperity within its borders?

I believe state grants to rural areas to revitalize downtown districts, expand infrastructure and high-speed internet will help keep businesses viable in our rural areas.

5. Republicans in the legislature have boasted in recent years of increased school expenditures and rising teacher pay, some local officials, particularly in urban areas, have complained that it’s not good enough. Do you think North Carolina’s schools are being adequately funded? If not, what taxes would you be willing to raise—or what services would you be willing to cut—to fund them better?

North Carolina schools are not being adequately funded. Republicans in the General Assembly have touted that the average teacher salary is $50,000, but they are taking credit for counties that have added local supplements to teacher wages as well as teachers who were grandfathered into advanced degree bonuses and longevity pay beyond 25 years. I believe that we need a tax on high-income earners (individuals who make over $100,000) as well as removing some of the state funding going towards charter schools and direct that money to our public schools

6. In a similar vein, there has been a movement in recent years toward “school choice” programs such as vouchers and charter schools. Critics say these programs detract from traditional schools and may even exacerbate segregation. Do you support these programs and believe they need to be expanded?

I do not believe these programs need to be expanded. While I believe there is some value of charter schools, I believe we need to reinstate the statewide cap on the number of charter schools, and we need to regulate them better. Best practices state that we should have at least one charter school regulator within DPI for every 6 charter schools. We are currently approaching one charter school regulator for every 50 charter schools. If these schools are receiving public dollars we should have rigorous standards and oversight to ensure they are providing the education our tax dollars are paying for.

7. Do you believe the state of North Carolina should expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act? If so, do you believe that expansion should come with the work requirements the Trump administration is now permitting?

I believe that North Carolina should have expanded Medicaid 5 years ago, and we should do it today. We have lost millions of dollars, and the lives of our fellow North Carolinians because the leaders in the General Assembly chose to play politics with people’s healthcare. I do not believe that expansion should come with work requirements.

8. After the Parkland mass shooting, Florida passed a law raising the age of all gun sales to twenty-one and requiring a three-day waiting period on all gun purchases. There have also been calls to limit magazine sizes or ban assault-style rifles. North Carolina has fairly permissive gun laws. Do you believe the state’s gun laws need to be changed? If so, in what ways?

I do believe that our state gun laws should be changed to promote responsible gun ownership. I believe that we need to have a licensing requirement to own a firearm, complete with a written and performance test, that has to be renewed every 5 years. We need to establish civil and criminal liability for gun owners who fail to report their guns lost or stolen. We should require all gun owners to purchase mandatory liability insurance so that actuaries and risk assessors can financially incentivize safer ownership, as well as protect families who are victims of gun violence from insolvency. And we need to ban assault-style weapons and large capacity magazines.

9. Currently, twenty-nine states have minimum wages above the federal minimum. North Carolina is not among them. Do you believe North Carolina should raise its minimum wage―or, alternatively, give municipalities the ability to raise minimum wages within their jurisdictions?

I believe that North Carolina should raise its minimum wage. The minimum wage was always designed to be a living wage. My plan is to create a county-wide minimum wage system based on a 5 tier structure. Each tier would consist of 20 counties ranked by cost of living. The living wage for cost of living in the most expensive county within a tier is the minimum wage for that tier. This way you account for the differences in living in a high-income county like Wake, Durham or Mecklenburg versus a more rural low-income county like Robeson or Bertie.

10. The replacement bill for HB 2 that passed last year prohibits local governments from passing living-wage or nondiscrimination ordinances until 2020. It seems likely that this legislature will set limits on how much freedom local governments will have. Did you support the HB 2 replacement? Why or why not? And what restrictions, if any, do you believe the legislature should place on local governments when that moratorium expires?

I did not support HB2, nor do I support the replacement. The GOP majority re-visited a sad chapter in American history invoking fear of sexual assault by a minority class in order to revoke rights from that minority class. We have been dealing with the fall out ever since. The replacement for HB2 limits local governments from reflecting the will of their local populace. I believe the state should set the floor as to their living wages and nondiscrimination ordinances, but local governments should have the right to exceed that floor as they and their voters see fit.

11. Over the last year, the state has frequently found itself in court over its legislative and congressional districts, which courts have ruled racial and, in the latter case, partisan gerrymanders. Do you believe the state’s legislative and congressional districts have been drawn fairly? Do you believe the process itself is fair? If not, how would you suggest changing it?

“With surgical precision” is the language used by the courts and it is an accurate depiction of the North Carolina redistricting process. The maps are not fair. The majority in the General Assembly have admitted as much in redrawing the congressional districts, stating that their goal was to maintain the 10-3 Republican majority of representation to Congress, despite our state is relatively purple.

Technology has allowed for this fine-tuned line cutting and map drawing, and it is my belief that we can utilize technology to create fair maps. Algorithm redistricting takes out any partisan or personal leaning to skew the maps in favor of one group or another. We can craft an algorithm focused on compactness, keeping together municipalities and precincts in order to create fair maps.

I also believe that I am the only candidate in NC talking about the issue of census disenfranchisement. It is the practice of counting incarcerated individuals at the location of the facility they are incarcerated in, rather than the community they came from and would likely return to upon release for the purposes of the Census. Because we use that data in delivering government resources and dividing representation, it has the effect of diluting representation from high crime communities and giving undue power to communities with jails and prisons. The Census Bureau has stated they will work with states to count incarcerated individuals at their home residences provided the states ask for such information. To ensure that communities are given the representation they are entitled to, this is a change that needs to be made.

12. While other states have relaxed their prohibitions on marijuana and raised revenues by taxing either recreational or medicinal cannabis, North Carolina has not. What sort of reforms, if any, would you support with regard to marijuana policy?

I would look into relaxing prohibitions and legalizing medicinal cannabis. I am leaning towards legalizing recreational cannabis, but I would like more information first.

13. Give an example of a time, during your political career, when you have changed your position as a result of a discussion with someone who held an opposing view.

In the gun debate, I had my own pre-existing notions of firearms. I never understood gun culture or the hold that owning a firearm had on some people. I was squarely in the ‘ban them all’ crowd. After a discussion with a friend, who was a veteran, I discovered my understanding was limited. I learned the difference between a semi-automatic weapon and a fully automatic, what does and doesn’t constitute an assault rifle. While it is still a culture I don’t necessarily understand, I recognize that it is a deeply held one for many North Carolinians and many Americans and I believe we can balance how we can enact regulations to keep us safe, while allowing those who participate to get the full enjoyment and benefit of their firearms.

14. What would you do to address the partisan rancor in the General Assembly? In what ways do you believe you can effectively work across party lines?

I believe that the partisan rancor is keeping our leaders from solving the problems our state is facing. I believe that breaking the supermajority will yield some movement towards bipartisanship regardless of which side gains the majority. But I also believe fair districts will create a system where members of each party aren’t running to the ideological extremes to prevent primary challengers, and campaign finance reform will move away from the incentives of adopting the views of deep-pocketed donors.

I believe that you can work across the party lines by finding solutions to issues that affect red districts and blue districts and working in a manner where legislators trust you and no one cares as to who gets the credit. Call me naïve but I believe that elected officials are there to represent their constituents even if they don’t get credit.

15. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some points with voters.

I believe my push for a full-time legislature is not a very popular one. Our General Assembly is deeply unpopular and the idea they should be paid more is one which will draw ire. I am sure that I will get more than one attack aimed in my direction that I am only trying to make money off of my position. But I believe it is necessary to ensure that we get the best quality candidates. A number of popular, effective elected officials have left office because they could no longer afford to serve. With the increase in special sessions, it is nearly impossible to maintain a sufficient full-time job while serving, and the idea of how one will pay their mortgage or support their family off of $14,000 a year is a barrier for a number of smart, selfless candidates. Just from the standpoint of creating a stronger democracy, it is imperative that we ensure that the best and brightest North Carolinians can serve if they choose to.

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