Name as it appears on the ballot: Gil Johnson
Campaign website: www.GilJohnsonSenate.org
Phone number: (919)608-0662
Years lived in the district: 24
1. In your view, what are the three most pressing issues North Carolina faces? If elected, what will you do to address these issues?
I feel that the three most pressing issues that North Carolina faces are fully funding public education, promoting the growth of our economy and continuing to bring good jobs here, and wisely investing in a long term plan for our infrastructure so that we can maintain growth well into the future.
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 Chad Barefoot, and I most disagree with his track record of recklessly passing legislation alongside his party, without thinking them through. They have pushed through 13 bills that have been found to be unconstitutional, including the purely partisan redistricting of Wake County, and an attempt to strip our veteran teachers of their due process rights.
3. The most contentious issue of this year―and this election―has been HB 2, especially in light of the NCAA’s decision to pull its championships from the Tar Heel state. Do you believe that the law has provided any benefits to North Carolina? Do you believe it should be repealed root and branch? If not, in what ways would you like to alter it?
House Bill 2 has not benefitted North Carolina, and should be repealed. I care about the safety of our families, and there are already laws to protect against sexual predators. House Bill 2 does not strengthen these laws, or help in their enforcement. It has damaged the reputation of our state throughout the nation, and has cost us hundreds of millions in revenue.
4. 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 support an incremental increase of the minimum wage to help our hardworking families make ends meet.
5. In a similar vein: beyond the bathroom issue, HB 2 also overrode local antidiscrimination ordinances, which has become something of a pattern in recent years, with the legislature preempting local governments from passing laws it doesn’t like. Do you believe the state too often intrudes into local affairs? Why or why not?
The current leaders of the General Assembly have a created a dangerous pattern of intruding in local affairs. It can be seen in their reckless, unconstitutional redistricting of Wake County and other localities across the state, and their attempt to takeover Asheville’s water supply.
6. What, in your view, is an ideal salary for a beginning teacher? If it is more than the $35,000 currently being earned by beginning teachers in North Carolina, how would you work with your colleagues to increase teacher pay?
An ideal starting salary would be one that attracts the best students to the field of education, and is competitive with starting salaries in other states. I would work with my colleagues in the Senate to ensure that Public Education funding and teacher pay becomes a priority again.
7. A federal appeals court struck down the state law requiring voter ID and containing other voting restrictions. Do you agree or disagree with that decision? Please explain your position.
I agree with the court’s decision. The voter ID law was found to disproportionally affect minorities and the elderly, restricting their access to the ballot box. We should be making it easier to vote, not harder.
8. In recent months, two public servants in the Department of Health and Human Services have accused administration officials of minimizing the risks that Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds pose to nearby water wells. Do you believe the state has taken the proper safeguards to protect drinking water?
I think that the current administration did a disservice to the public by attacking career state employees who were trying to do their jobs and protect the safety of our drinking water. I am happy to be endorsed by both the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters. I know the importance of protecting our state’s clean air and clean water.
9. The current administration has been frequently criticized by environmental advocates over things like, for instance, the cleanup of Jordan Lake. Do you believe these criticisms are warranted? In what ways do you believe the state’s current environmental policies have succeeded or failed? What would you like to improve?
The criticisms are completely warranted. My opponent voted to spend taxpayer money on unproven methods like the Solar Bees on Jordan Lake, while ignoring proven methods to protect our water supply like natural buffers.
10. Democrats have called for an expansion of Medicaid, which would provide health coverage for 244,000 North Carolinians. Would you support such a move? Why or why not?
I would support the expansion of Medicaid. Too many people have been left with no access to healthcare for petty political points. Rural hospitals have suffered. In my district, we lost our hospital in Louisburg. Patients that would have once had easily accessible healthcare are now being sent to hospitals in neighboring counties. Chad Barefoot’s refusal to expand Medicaid has put lives at risk.
11. Similarly, in recent months two large insurers have decided not to issue policies on North Carolina’s Affordable Care Act exchange, which puts those on the individual market in something of a precarious situation. What do you believe the state can or should do to improve its citizens’ health care?
Access to affordable healthcare should be a priority for our State’s leaders. Because of our current leaders’ refusal to expand Medicaid, North Carolina citizens are not able to take advantage of a program their tax dollars are already paying for. Access to affordable healthcare is important. Someone’s health should not be put at risk for political points.
12. Name three things you would change in the current state budget and, if your changes would free up money, what your spending priorities would be.
I would eliminate the expansion of school voucher funding that will send over a billion dollars of taxpayer money to unaccountable private schools. I would eliminate the new sales taxes that have been put in place on everything from car repairs to healthcare that shift a larger burden onto our hardworking families. I would cut the special interest giveaways, like the $265 Million given to Duke Energy as they put our drinking water at risk. I would prioritize investing in our public education system, making sure that our kids have access to current textbooks and that our teachers are paid what they deserve.
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.
I am a strong supporter of expanding early childhood education, but in my early years on the School Board, I did not hold that view. I was skeptical of efforts to expand Pre-K education in North Carolina. I felt that it would have been more appropriate to use any additional funding in our K-12 system. After looking at data proving its effectiveness, I realized the importance of Pre-K, and the effect that it can, and has, had in our K-12 Classrooms.