Jeanne Milliken Bonds | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Jeanne Milliken Bonds

N.C. House District 39


Download PDF of completed questionnaire

Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Jeanne Milliken Bonds

Party: Democratic

Date of Birth: 11/14/1962

Campaign Web Site:

Occupation & Employer: Executive Director for two non-profit organizations and self-employed consultant for issue management/pr/grantswriting

Years lived in North Carolina: Born and Raised in NC; lived here my whole life except for work in Washington, DC

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?

Funding for Public Education, Tax Restructuring, Business Development, Living Wages/benefits for Teachers and State Employees

Funding for public education (K-12) – We simply cannot lay off teachers in an economic down cycle. Public education changes lives, makes a lifelong impact on individuals. Public education ensures a flexible and well-trained future workforce and is an investment in that future workforce. We have to be able to provide education that prepares our children for any economy and flexibility in their livelihoods. The single biggest investment a society can make is in their children's education. It is the determinant to a better world.

State Employees and teachers – Providing living wages, benefits, retirement – We simply have to provide the wages and benefits for these public servants to care for their families. We can't expect excellent service delivery if we do not take care of these public servants. Policy is only as good as the delivery of the services to the public and that depends on qualified, productive public servants.

Tax restructuring – Reassessing our tax structure to ensure progressivity; dedicating revenue streams to public education. Every government needs to reassess its revenues and expenses. I believe we are past time for that in NC. We need to ensure a progressive tax system and fairness. There are loopholes to close and adjustments to make and then we must commit resources to education and other areas where we can fall behind. We have to take this on in order to generate new revenue and lessen the burden on working families.

Business Development – Small and mid size businesses are the backbone of the economy in NC and US. They generate innovation, provide stability for employees. Our State owns intellectual property, technology, processes in our Universities and instead of incenting out of State corporations to come here, when they have no vested interest in our State, we need to incent the commercialization of new processes, technologies, invented here. We can create new jobs, new businesses and become the leader in new manufacturing in this country.

2) Are there specific needs in your district that you would add to that list? How do you propose to address them?

Generally the above issues are the same ones facing District 39. Small to mid size business development, care of teachers and state employees (this District has the second largest concentration of state employees in NC), public education. But in addition, District 39 needs to be included in alternative transportation plans and expansion of transportation plans. When I was Mayor I promoted EastTrans, a commuter rail project. We can create jobs but if people cannot access them because of lack of public transportation, we will not succeed. District 39 can be the gateway to eastern NC and can be the manufacturing hub for the RTP research and development hub. We have the land, labor, roads, access to make this happen which is why I want to focus on commercializing new technologies.

3. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you've identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.

I served on the Knightdale Town Council for nine years. I was appointed and successfully elected twice by the people. I served as Mayor Pro Tem for seven years and Mayor. I developed budgets the entire time that focused on community priorities. I was part of a Council that developed a successful Public Safety Department and added officers, developed a Business Expo that is ongoing, brought in new development and new business, developed excellent planning standards with interconnection between neighborhoods, built an Environmental Park with dedicated revenue streams, expanded water and sewer infrastructure and advocated for transportation. But I am most proud of the support I provided to the Town employees. I held an Employee Appreciation Day to recognize their efforts on behalf of the residents. I know how to advocate for employees. I have been a mentor and tutor and understand the importance of education and the needs of the public schools and what it takes to help a child achieve.

In addition I was Deputy Director at the Courts serving under Chief Justice Burley Mitchell where I was tasked with Judicial Branch of Government Appropriations and successfully acquired $30 million in additional appropriations for the Courts focused on technology and personnel, as well as a provision for generating revenues to support future technology. I understand the State budget, the appropriations process, and how to advocate for resources. I will be seen and heard in the NC General Assembly on Day One on behalf of the residents of Wake County and the State of NC.

I also worked at the NC Rural Economic Development Center where I worked in low wealth communities to empower residents and leaders to create jobs, develop new technologies for natural resources, develop new crops for farmers. I have experience helping communities acquire resources, overcome obstacles and create jobs. I understand how to provide incentives for innovation and rebuild communities, and my experience statewide is beneficial in understanding where the successful models are on which to build success.

My first job out of UNC Chapel Hill as an undergraduate was lobbying in the US Congress on the 1986 Tax Reform Act for small businesses. As one of the youngest female lobbyists in DC, I learned the system as well as the complexity of tax issues so I believe I have the experience to take on tax restructuring. I returned to UNC to earn an MPA where I focused on policy analysis. My ability to understand both federal and state policy-making and appropriations on both levels, combined with my service at the local level make me uniquely qualified for a role as a State legislator.

4. How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform? I am a realistic, problem-solver who focuses on results and progressive and innovative policy. I believe elected officials should be judged on their performance, from Day One, to their constituents and because of that I focus on finding solutions to problems. I live my life and make decisions by considering others who have different lives from my own. My first grade teacher taught us to think about another person's experiences, history, perspectives and this is what I do when considering any decision as a policy-maker or elected official. My present platform is progressive and focuses on achieving good policy that invests in the priorities of a State Government. It is a true reflection of my values and priorities and my concerns for the future generations of North Carolinians. My past achievements at the Courts, the Rural Center, Town of Knightdale also reflect my philosophy of progressive innovation – new approaches, successful solutions. At the Courts, we focused on new approaches, testing new ideas – drug treatment courts, family court, creating a juvenile justice department in the Executive Branch for focus and cohesion of services. At the Rural Center, I was involved in innovation in businesses, agricultural crops, and produced a rural telecommunications forum that tied together technology and showcased its applications. I have been around progressive and innovative policy makers in my career – Billy Ray Hall, Governor Bob Scott, Governor Jim Hunt, President Bill Friday, many community leaders, teachers, leaders of non-profit organizations so I bring the sum of those experiences ands successes to this campaign which is about serving the people of Wake County and NC.

5. The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.

To me, a "just community" is one which ensures the dignity of individuals and mutual respect for diversity. My campaign team is grassroots based, diverse and inclusive. I started school in New Hanover County in 1968 as segregation ended and my entire life is reflective of the benefits of diversity in schools. My lifelong friends are the ones I met on this road to discovery. My values and principles are the ones I learned from diversity. This was re-enforced in my work at the Rural Center and at the Courts and I carry with me the resolve to always consider others with different experiences, different history, different perspectives. Every issue I take on in my campaign and as a legislator will reflect the value of all people and my personal commitment to diversity. My advocacy on behalf of teachers and state employees will further the building of a just community because I want these individuals to be proud of their roles as public servants, be committed to public service but also be able to take care of their families with proper benefits and salaries. A productive public service corps of employees who are motivated with spirited morale will contribute to ensuring the Triangle is a just community. My support for public education and teachers will ensure that we keep our focus on the most fundamental role of Government – educating future generations with passion and vigor. Respect for all public servants and focus on education of our children will have tremendous impacts on society and our future.

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

I support collective bargaining for public employees to ensure that they are buffered from political retribution, have a seat at the table. The provision against collective bargaining is a left over provision from the past that is destructive to morale and productivity. Accountability and performance will increase with the removal of this provision. This will be unpopular with my former local elected colleagues but I am running for people, not elected officials. I was a state employee while a local elected official and that is my priority. Unfortunately the term "collective bargaining" evokes many responses and is largely misunderstood but with education and accountability, this will be positive for public servants and the quality of the services they perform on behalf of the public. An elected official's policies and ideas are only as good as the public servants who deliver the services so we have to invest in those public servants.

I want to ensure the employees are treated fairly, are afforded good working conditions and processes, and are valued. As an elected leader I want services to be delivered by a productive workforce. If the employees believe they are not treated well, how could I expect the services to be delivered in a productive manner to the taxpayers? Morale and productivity suffer when large groups of employees are insecure, unhappy, worried, concerned.

If a private business, corporation, industry treats its employees with respect, offers fair and just working conditions, provides benefits and a safe workplace, there is no reason its employees should need or want to organize for purposes of negotiating because they are likely to be happy so I see no need for this to be used to frighten the private sector.

7. The current state budget was balanced with approximately equal amounts of spending cuts (primarily to human services and local school districts) and tax increases. Another very tough budget battle looms ahead next year. Will you support: (a) deeper spending cuts? (b) greater tax increases? (c) another mix of the two? Please tell us what you'd cut and which taxes should be raised, if any.

Deeper spending cuts simply cannot come from basic human services and education. Education is the critical service our State Government provides and cuts to it will cause repercussions in our future. We have to invest in teachers and children. I support tax restructuring to ensure progressivity in the tax structure we have to relieve the burden and appropriately and proportionately tax. We are not closing loopholes that exist, enforcing certain areas and collecting on services where we can generate revenue. I suspect there will have to be a mix of the two but we have simply got to generate additional revenues in a progressive manner and stimulate new investments. I am confident there are cuts that can be made, having worked through the Appropriations process for the Courts, with more deeply affecting those critical human services and education. We have waited too long to assess our revenue base.

Since NC is taxing 1/3 of the available services, we can raise additional revenue by assessing these services and taxing more of them which a joint Finance Committee is doing now. Public officials have to stand up for the people and take on the interests that have fought this in the past. It is more important to act morally and with conviction for our communities than worry about support in the next election.

8. North Carolina is sending record numbers of people to prison, and when they're released, they're often lost and get in trouble again. The Governor's StreetSafe initiative is aimed at breaking this vicious cycle and reducing the recidivism rate. As a legislator, what would you propose that she and the General Assembly do to help?

At the NC Courts, we focused on special programs like family court and drug treatment court which get at the root cause of people being imprisoned. Many of the inmates have addiction issues and pre and post sentence drug treatment courts have been successful by using a "carrot and stick" for treatment of the underlying causes. Likewise family court is a more therapeutic and comprehensive evaluation of a total family.

Partnerships with community organizations, faith based organizations, non-profit organizations who are already doing tremendous counseling, outreach work can be partnerships that work. Better coordination and communication is needed. Understanding of the range of services offered and the role of partners is needed.

The cycle of crime, prison, crime is absolutely connected to addiction and wages. Just like when children achieve, their self-esteem improves and their behavior changes, so do many adults. We have to focus on the root causes and that includes wages and benefits. When families can stay together and take care of themselves by earning living wages, the family unit is stable. We have too many people falling behind due to wages so we have to expand training opportunities, incent new businesses to create new jobs, help businesses retain jobs and generate entrepreneurship where possible.

We need to focus on partnerships because government cannot do it all, community programs, training programs, therapeutic approaches that reach the root cause and support for working families to earn a living that makes stability possible.

9. Health care: What should the state do next to address the problem of adults and children without adequate health care or insurance? What do you propose to do to address the mental health crisis?

Fortunately we have new health care legislation in this country. Preventive care is less expensive than reactive care. Now, we need to address the costs new drug development, health care provider rates, services. We are in a vicious cycle where costs have spiraled out of control and are passed onto adults and children and have made affordability out of range. So, we have to look at wages, new business and job creation, affordability of services with a closer scrutiny of health care providers. We cannot let providers straddle the fence of non-profit for-profit status which is directly related to costs. If we can address the cost side of the equation, we can improve the affordability for families.

Mental health services are critical to the well-being of communities. I believe we already have sound partnerships but we can possibly look at creating a "mental health service corps" where we get professional to get training and donate time to the community, modeling after the peace corps or service corps. At this point, the needs are so great compared to the funding available that we need to evoke a sense of community commitment to well-being and call on professionals to volunteer services to the community.

10) What is your position on capital punishment in North Carolina? If in favor, will you support a moratorium on executions while the question of whether the death penalty can be administered fairly is studied by the General Assembly?

I support a moratorium on executions. I have personally never felt comfortable with the death penalty and never will because of questions about the administration of it, questions about the fairness of the administration of it, and I personally would rather see life sentences with work as restitution. I understand the pain and lifelong suffering of victims' families and am heartbroken over their losses and I am realistic to the point that I understand that not everyone can be rehabilitated, but it is ultimately not a solution.

I personally want to focus on justice through redemption. Even the slimmest margin of error is irreversible. I personally want to live in a community that has compassion, optimism, restoration. Restitution can be accomplished through work in the present but not death.

11) What is your position regarding LGBT rights? Please address whether gay marriages or civil unions should be made legal in North Carolina; also, whether sexual orientation and identity should be added as a protected class under state anti-discrimination laws, including state personnel laws.

I believe state anti-discrimination laws should be inclusive and that any community that believes it is being harassed or discriminated against should be added as a protected class, without having to battle for that protection. We make our society too complicated by not recognizing communities for discrimination and proactively including those communities in our laws instead of isolating communities and debating their worthiness for inclusion. Employment, housing, public accommodations should be afforded to any and all equally. We need to improve society to inclusion not exclusion. The same applies for harassment and hate crimes. All communities with potential to be victims should be afforded protection under the law equally.

In NC, we have religious and civil marriages. In some countries, there are only religious marriages and people of different faiths leave to marry (i.e. Israel). We are confusing the two types of marriage and combining religious views with legal recognition. If two people are committed, share their lives and their resources, they have a civil marriage and it should be recognized for tax purposes, all legal and social purposes available. We should afford the protections and advantages under the law to any couple that has a civil union.

12) 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? Given that North Carolina has the ninth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, do you support medically accurate sex education that includes information about birth control?

Yes, I absolutely support women's reproductive rights. Women have an absolute right to define the parameters of their decisions with respect to their bodies without fear of intimidation, coercion, or ridicule and without regard to economic or socio-economic status. When I consider issues and how best to make decisions on behalf of the people I serve, I remember something my first grade teacher taught us to walk in another's shoes and understand their history, experiences, perspectives and situation in life in order to realize biases, discrimination, stress. This expands my thought with respect to decision-making and in doing so I am able to advocate for many and not myself. This is critically important with respect to women's issues.

Roe v Wade was written when I was 11 years old so I have been fortunate to live most of my life in a world where women and their decisions with respect to their bodies have been respected. The decision to end a pregnancy is one that should be made by the woman with consultation with those she deems necessary just as would be the case with any major decision in life. To restrict a woman's ability to make decisions about her own body, in any way, diminishes our equality as human beings, our individual liberty and right to privacy. Laws and actions that threaten Roe v Wade should be treated as impediments to our equality and intrusion on our personal liberty and right to privacy.

Yes, I absolutely support age appropriate sex education that includes education about contraceptives and sexually transmitted diseases. I was involved in the development of such a curriculum when I was a student body officer in High School. School is sometimes the only place for non-biased information, again considering different individuals' circumstances. I believe sex education should be taught by credentialed, trained educators who will not evoke bias, morally or otherwise. I support medically accurate and age appropriate information. We entrust our children to teachers for social, educational adaptation to society and I have confidence they can provide this as well.

13) Should public employees have the right to bargain collectively in North Carolina? While critics argue that the elimination of this provision has to increase costs to the taxpayers and apply layers of bureaucracy or that it is a threat to North Carolina jobs. That is just not true. If a private

business, corporation, industry treats its employees with respect, offers fair and just working conditions, provides benefits and a safe workplace, there is no reason its employees should need or

want to organize for purposes of negotiating because they are likely to be happy. The provision restricting it should be removed.

Further, critics say the removal of this provision against collective bargaining will "destructively pit Local and State leaders against

public employees." Elected leaders are responsible for the government that provides services to the public and the employees that work in the government so it is therefore incumbent on elected leaders to ensure the employees are treated fairly, are afforded good working conditions and

processes, and are valued. As an elected leader I want services to be delivered by a productive workforce. If the employees believe they are not treated well, how could I expect the services to be delivered in a productive manner to the taxpayers? Morale and productivity suffer when large groups of employees are insecure, unhappy, worried, concerned. As a local elected official, I served on the personnel and finance committee and was directly involved with Town employees' benefits, working conditions, pay scales, work conditions and I wanted to ensure they were appropriate and adequate for them to be valued and serve the public. I saw my role as Mayor Pro Tem and Mayor to be supportive of them as public servants since they were critical to the delivery of services to the public that I wanted

as an elected official. This is the role of an elected leader. A government is only as good as its employees. I believe that this prohibition on collective bargaining is a sad reminder of Jim Crow laws and it remaining in the Statutes is in itself destructive to morale and productivity because of the historical relevance. Since state and local employees have numerous and changing leaders in elected office and management that is appointed or hired by the changing elected leaders, it is quite different from the private sector. Politics certainly comes into play. As a former state employee and a former Mayor, I support state employees and teachers will live up to my concern for their well-being, work conditions and fair employment as I always have and will work with them on the parameters for future negotiations after this provision is removed, to include accountability on both sides and specific provisions. State employees and teachers do not want to drive up costs for the government in which they work; that would be counterproductive.

14) The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 11.2 percent of North Carolina's workforce is unemployed. Please state specifically what the state should and can do to create new jobs, describe the kinds of jobs the state should support and what your role will be in creating them.

The State should immediately reassess its incentives tools and look at incentives for thriving and stable NC businesses that can retain jobs and create new jobs. Lending for small and mid-sized businesses is difficult now and for some, unattainable. The State can work with the federal agencies for government-secured loans through our already excellent Small Business Technology Development Centers and Small Business Centers and partnerships with community development organizations, alternative lending programs. We can invest in additional assistance for these businesses. The State should assess its intellectual property, technology and processes it owns via the Universities to see what can be done to provide incentives for new manufacturing, new businesses that can create jobs. I want to completely reassess business development incentives and focus on the successful businesses that are growing here rather than engaging in competition for outside corporations that have no vested interest in our State or our people.

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