Josh Stein | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Josh Stein

Candidate for N.C. Senate, District 16


Name as it appears on the ballot: Josh Stein
Party: Democratic
Date of Birth: September 13, 1966
Candidate web site:
Occupation & Employer: lawyer, NC Attorney General’s Office Years lived in North Carolina: I grew up in North Carolina, went away for ten years to go to college, teach in Africa, and attend graduate school. I have lived in NC since, except for a two year stint in Washington, DC with Senator Edwards.

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?

As state Senator, I will work to strengthen our public schools, expand access to affordable, quality health care, and make sure that Wake County remains a great place to call home today and in the future.

Over the past twenty years, I have dedicated myself to serving the public and to working for change in pursuit of a more just society. I want to be state Senator so I can continue these efforts. That’s why I will focus on bettering our children’s education, improving people’s health, and preserving our quality of life.


No public institution is more important than the public school system. Anna and I were both educated in North Carolina public schools; so are our children. I also taught high school English and economics in Africa for a couple of years. I know that no matter where you live, education is essential to a better future.

To provide the best education for our children, I will work to accomplish the following:

  • recruit and retain the best teachers by paying higher salaries;

  • make sure that every child comes to school ready to learn by expanding access to quality pre-Kindergarten programs;

  • make sure classrooms are not overcrowded so teachers can give students the attention they deserve;

  • tackle the racial achievement gap and reduce the drop-out rate by developing new models of high school connected to our community colleges and by supporting after-school programs to keep young people engaged and out of trouble; and

  • make sure no young person who is qualified for and wants to go to college is denied that opportunity because he or she cannot afford tuition.

Health Care:

In addition to strengthening our schools, I will work to reform our health care system. We must expand access to quality, affordable health care by making sure every child has health insurance, lowering health care costs while improving quality, and fixing our broken mental health care system.

One out of every six people in our state does not have health insurance – that is nearly 1 ½ million people. In Wake County alone, nearly 70,000 of our neighbors have no health care coverage at all, including thousands of children.

It is unacceptable that North Carolina has children without health insurance. As state Senator, I will fight to change that. Every child should have health insurance so that no parent hesitates to take a sick child to a doctor. I will work in the Senate to ensure that parents of every child in North Carolina can secure an affordable health plan for their children by supporting full funding for NC Health Choice and expanding eligibility for NC Kids Care.

I support the high-risk insurance pool adopted by the General Assembly last session as a way to offer coverage for those people with pre-existing conditions. We must make the pool more affordable so more North Carolinians can participate. I also support creating incentives for small business to provide health care benefits to their employees and expanding Medicaid coverage to parents of children enrolled in NC Health Choice.

A central challenge in health care – and one I’m prepared to tackle – is the explosive increase in health care costs. In recent years, health care costs have increased by double digits, four times the increase in wages since 2001. This trend is unsustainable.

For those of us fortunate enough to have health insurance, we worry every year how much more in co-pays, premiums, and deductibles will we face and at the same time how much our benefits will shrink. And our greatest fear is that we’ll lose our coverage all together.

Health care costs must be contained.

  • We must prioritize preventive care, primary care, and disease management. For instance, it is more cost effective and better for health to prevent obesity than to treat diabetes. A visit to the emergency room costs 10 times more than a visit to a primary care doctor.

  • We should promote evidence-based medicine to see that our health care dollars are wisely spent and not wasted on treatments that do not help, or worse, harm the patient.

  • We have to eliminate administrative waste by insurance companies.

We can control costs and improve quality at the same time. The Governor recently appointed me to a panel to make sure that hospitals report infection rates properly. Once hospitals report statistics in the same way, we will know how they are performing and they can focus on improving their quality of care and reducing unnecessary deaths and disease.

Just as critical as physical health is mental health. We must fix our broken mental health care system. The deterioration of our mental health system with its move toward privatization without adequate accountability is tragic. News Commentators estimate the amount of waste in the new system at $400 million. The legislature must fix the mess it created, and the state must take responsibility for the decline in mental health care. Patients and their families deserve no less. See my response below to question #6f for more information.

Growth and Quality of Life:

Wake County is a great place to call home – we have a strong economic base, great weather, competitive cost of living, and more.

Our secret is out. Fifteen years ago, Wake had 460,000 people. Today, we have more than 800,000. In 20 years, our population is projected to double again.

This explosive growth is placing an intense stress on our schools, our roads, our water and sewer, our social services and open space.

As state Senator, it will be my responsibility to ensure that Wake County and North Carolina remain great places to live 10, 20, 30 years down the road. I’ll:

  • promote water conservation and find solutions to our water shortage;

  • clean our polluted sources of drinking water, most critically Falls and Jordan lakes;

  • preserve our open space;

  • improve public transportation and relieve traffic congestion;

  • clean our air; and

  • make sure North Carolina does its part to combat the climate crisis by promoting energy conservation, developing renewable sources of energy, and reducing auto emissions.

We must grow smarter. Forward thinking leadership tackles tough problems now so that we and our children have a better future. That is what I will do in the state Senate.

2. 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.

We face major challenges here in North Carolina, whether it is educating our children, reforming our health care system, or making sure that our region and state remain great places to call home. Therefore, it is essential that we elect progressive, effective leaders to the General Assembly.

Although I have had several fulfilling jobs, I have had only one career – public service. I know how to take on the special interests and get good things done for the people of this state. That’s what I do as the Director of the Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General’s office; that’s what I will continue to do as state Senator.

As the state’s top consumer lawyer, I’ve had success advocating on behalf of the public’s interest at the legislature. I helped to enact many of North Carolina’s progressive, anti-predatory lending laws to protect homeowners, laws that serve as national models. I helped enact North Carolina’s Do Not Call law. I helped to enact North Carolina’s Identity Theft Protection Act, another model piece of legislation.

These important victories did not just happen. Each was hard fought. When we rolled out the Do Not Call proposal, we had a meeting at the Department of Justice. There were 20-25 lobbyists representing a broad range of industries and corporations in the room. Not a single one of them supported the legislation.

My job was to draft the bill, take it to the General Assembly, and turn it into law. With each of these pieces of legislation, after dozens of negotiations over a period of months, we got it done.

In addition to my service at the Department of Justice protecting consumers and advocating on behalf of the public interest at the General Assembly, I served as Senator Edwards’ Legal Counsel in the U.S. Senate. There, I gained valuable legislative experience, helping him secure funding to redevelop eastern North Carolina devastated by Hurricane Floyd and to preserve open space around Lake James thus protecting vital watersheds from overdevelopment.

I have served as a teacher, an affordable housing provider for nonprofits, and a volunteer for Interact, Wake County’s domestic violence organization. I am also a husband and father. I believe that I have the legislative experience, broad perspective, long-term view of the future, passion, and proven ability to address effectively our most pressing challenges.

Bringing about change so that we do a better job educating all our children, expanding access to health care coverage while constraining heath care costs, and tackling quality of life issues related to growth will not be easy. There are powerful interests with a stake in the status quo. I know how to take on the special interests and get good things done for the people of this state at the General Assembly. I have done it successfully and repeatedly, and as state Senator, I will continue to do it.

3. How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I am progressive. I have strongly held beliefs about the kind of society we should form. It should be a society in which we provide fairness and opportunity for all, not to guarantee outcomes but to ensure that everyone has a real shot at achieving a life that is satisfying to themselves and their families; a society in which we plan today for the challenges of tomorrow; a society, in short, in which we secure the common good.This progressive vision has underscored my personal and career decisions at every step. In college, I helped lead the anti-apartheid movement at Dartmouth College, which ultimately culminated in the school divesting its holdings from South Africa. After college, I taught high school in Zimbabwe to veterans disabled during their war of liberation against the colonialists.

After graduating from Harvard Law School and the Kennedy School of Government, instead of joining a big law firm, I chose to work for two economic development non-profits building wealth in low-income communities here in North Carolina through home ownership and small business development. Through this work, I helped renovate abandoned rental properties into affordable, single-family homes in Durham’s Walltown neighborhood, as well as the historic former African-American Mercy hospital in Wilson into a small business incubator and office building for nonprofits. I also raised more than $1 million in capital for minority credit unions that then reinvested the funds in low-wealth African-American communities across the state by helping people build businesses and own homes.

In 1997, I was John Edwards’ first hire in his U.S. Senate campaign. I later became his campaign manager, helping to elect the only Democratic U.S. Senate challenger over a Republican incumbent in North Carolina in the last 40 years. As one of his top aides in Washington, I helped him secure funding to redevelop eastern North Carolina devastated by Hurricane Floyd, in addition to preserving open space around Lake James thus protecting vital watersheds from overdevelopment.

For the past seven years, as the Director of the Consumer Protection Division in the Attorney General’s office, my job has been to take on scam artists and work to ensure that everyone – especially the most vulnerable among us – gets a fair shake from corporations. We have had a number of successes.

Tackling Predatory Lenders:

  • Negotiated a $22 million settlement to provide refunds to thousands of people who were tricked by a major subprime mortgage lender into buying a useless product with their mortgages – the largest state consumer protection case in North Carolina history.

  • Helped chase all payday lenders out of North Carolina; they charged financially strapped working people interest rates on loans of more than 400%, rates that would make even loan sharks blush. Studies demonstrate that payday lenders target African-American communities to strip them of their wealth.

  • Helped enact strong state laws to protect subprime home loan borrowers from abusive loans, laws that serve as national models.

Fighting Identity Theft:
  • Helped enact the Identity Theft Protection Act to give consumers more tools to protect themselves from thieves and to require government and businesses to do a better job of safeguarding our personal information.

  • Helped develop an Identity Theft education program that the Federal Trade Commission touted as a national model.

Hanging Up on Telemarketers:
  • Helped to enact North Carolina’s Do Not Call law to give every one of us the legal right to refuse commercial telemarketing calls.

  • Oversaw dozens of settlements totaling more than one million dollars enforcing the law against violators.

  • Oversaw initiatives and educational efforts to protect vulnerable senior citizens from scammers.

For the past two years, I have volunteered for Interact, Wake County’s domestic violence organization, as co-chair of its Capital Campaign. To date we have raised $3.5 million toward our $5 million goal so that the organization can transform itself from the shelter with the fewest domestic violence beds per capita in the state into a national model.

This progressive vision of promoting the common good has not only guided me along my career, it is what drives me to seek this office today. It will also be what guides me in the General Assembly on the critical issues we face. By providing our children with the best education possible, we will ensure that they have an opportunity to maximize their potential. By reforming out health care system, we will improve health outcomes for people who are economically disadvantaged. And by addressing the environmental challenges presented by our extraordinary growth, we will take the steps necessary to ensure we all have a better future.

4. 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.

As I mentioned above, I have a progressive vision about the kind of society we should form. It should be a society in which we provide fairness and opportunity for all, in which we plan for the future, and in which we secure the common good. To build a just society, opportunity must be meaningful.

Opportunity begins with a quality education. Opportunity means that all children, no matter their background, come to school ready to learn; thus we must invest in quality pre-kindergarten programs. We must have the best schools possible, keep young people in school, and make sure that college is affordable for all.

Opportunity means that families are healthy. We must expand access to quality, affordable health care. We must ensure all children in North Carolina have health care coverage and help businesses to provide greater coverage to their employees. We must also strengthen our network of public health clinics and provide meaningful mental health care.

Opportunity also means good jobs and making sure that work pays. I am proud to have the endorsement of the AFL-CIO and the Triangle Labor Council because they believe that I will be an effective champion for working people on the critical issues they face.

To create economic opportunity, we need to create a positive environment for economic development by having an educated workforce that competes on the basis of its brainpower and productivity, not its low wages, strong university and community college systems, solid infrastructure, and great quality of life with adequate and clean water to drink, clean air to breath, and open space to enjoy.

To make work pay, we must raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation so that it does not lose value each year. At $7.25 per hour, which it will be next summer, a person working full time would earn $14,500, which is hardly enough to support oneself, let alone a family. This wage will still buy less, after adjusting for inflation, than did the 1968 minimum of $1.58 per hour. We should raise the minimum wage at least $1 more. We must also strengthen the earned income tax credit to reward work.

We must provide necessary support to help families make a better life for themselves by having effective job training programs that provide useful work skills, more childcare assistance, affordable housing, and reliable public transportation systems in urban areas.

In addition, we must also raise the pay of state employees, whose wages in recent years have failed to keep pace with inflation. As a state employee myself for the past seven years, I have seen how hard state employees work and how dedicated they are to serving the people of this state. Paying them fairly is not only the right thing to do for state employees, it is in the interest of taxpayers so we can reduce turnover, lower training expenses, and improve services by attracting and retaining more quality employees.

Opportunity also means that the government must create and enforce rules to ensure basic fairness in the marketplace. We cannot allow predatory companies to prey on the desperation of poor people. By advocating successfully for various laws to protect working people, I helped to kick the predatory mortgage lenders, payday lenders and the foreclosure rescue consultants out of North Carolina. I believe that North Carolina is a better state as a result. I will continue to be a champion for families in the Senate in pursuit of a more just society.

5. 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 have a deep belief in the equality and fundamental dignity of every person. This belief was ingrained in me at an early age. My family moved to North Carolina forty years ago, just after I was born, so that my father Adam Stein could join with Julius Chambers to form North Carolina’s first integrated law firm. Their firm went on to win a number of pioneering civil rights cases. My father’s experiences as a civil rights lawyer and my mother Jane’s activism in the community have inspired me and shaped the way I view the world.

I currently manage approximately 60 state employees. In prior jobs, I have supervised dozens of employees. My personal experience has confirmed my core belief that whether or not one is a good employee has absolutely nothing to do with one’s race, gender, national origin, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. All of these classes, except that of sexual orientation, are protected by law from discrimination. Therefore, I support legislation that would prohibit state and local governments from discriminating against gay and lesbian employees, just as the law shields other protected classes. I also believe that all students, including gay and lesbian students, have a right to a safe learning environment at school and would support legislation to guarantee that right. I believe that same sex domestic partners should have the right to visit their partners in the hospital and would support legislation requiring health providers to grant extended visitation rights at the wish of the patient. Finally, I will oppose any effort to amend our state or federal Constitutions to engrain discrimination in those documents. As a result of my principled beliefs, I am pleased that Equality NC has endorsed me in this election.

6. If these issues haven’t been addressed above, would you please comment on:

a. Poverty: What steps, if any, do you advocate to lift up the poor in North Carolina?

See #4 above.

b. Transportation needs in the state, including roads and transit in the Triangle?

The average commute in Wake County is more than 30 minutes. The tens of thousands of people who commute every day through the Park need no convincing that traffic is a problem. Neither do the thousands of people who suffer from asthma because of the bad air we breathe in the Triangle, in part due to how much we drive.

With our population expected to double in the next twenty years, these problems will only become worse. I-40 cannot get any wider. We must come up with an effective public transportation system. Failing to do so now will mean that it will only be more expensive in the future and will jeopardize our quality of life in the meantime.

We need to decide as municipalities, counties, region and state what kind of mass transit makes sense and what we can afford. One positive development is the NC Railroad is looking to double its lines from Goldsboro to Greensboro to offer commuter rail. Within the Triangle, we absolutely need to improve our bus service. We also need to look to other options, including light rail. As state Senator, I will be part of finding the right solution.

I will also work to reform the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Here’s what I propose:

  • We need to change the way transportation funding is allocated: public funds should be distributed based on need, not politics. We cannot continue spending increasingly scarce dollars on new four lane roads in places where few people live. We must concentrate our funding on maintain our existing roads and bridges, which are in a generally poor state of repair. We must ensure that the Triangle, where the road miles are actually being traveled, is getting its fair share because transportation dollars should go where the traffic is.

  • We must reduce the influence of the Board of Transportation, which warps the priorities of the Department.

  • We must increase the budget for public transportation. The Department used to be called the Department of Highways, and sometimes it seems like it still operates that way. Only 3% of the budget funds public transportation; this is much too low and does not reflect the reality of where we need to go as a society.

  • We must also integrate land use planning into our decisions on how to spend transportation dollars.

The quality and sustainability of our infrastructure is critical to our future, and I will work for a better future in the Senate.

c. Overcrowded prisons: Should we be moving toward more alternative-sentencing programs instead of prison time?

Public safety demands that we put dangerous criminals behind bars. Incarceration, however, is expensive, costing approximately $30,000 per inmate per year. Alternatives to incarceration can be much more cost effective in appropriate circumstances when the convict does not pose an ongoing danger to the public.

It is estimated that more than half of all crimes committed in Wake County are drug related, either directly involving a drug crime, or involving a property crime to feed an addiction. We need to focus more on treatment so people do not cycle out of prison and back into the same types of criminal activity that put them in prison in the first place. Treatment is not only less expensive to the taxpayer than incarceration but increases the likelihood that we will have more productive citizens after the fact.

We have a clear societal interest in reducing the number of crimes committed in the first place. I believe that we must improve academic performances of low-income students and keep them in school, off the streets and out of trouble. Our high school drop out rates are too high – nearly 40% for students in low income families. The cost to a young person who drops out of high school is approximately $1 million in lost earnings over a lifetime. One million dollars! We must pound that message over and over so that young people make better decisions that lead to productive lives with hope, rather than consigning themselves to lives of poverty, disengaged from society.

Additionally, please refer to my answer to question #4 above. We must create a fairer and more just society. The steps I discussed to create meaningful opportunity are those that the government can and must take to help, but government, of course, cannot solve every problem. There will always be an essential role for individuals, families and churches and other civic and religious organizations to create a stronger community fabric. Persistent inequality and the social problems that result are among the greatest challenges we face as a society, and we must all do our part to address them. That’s why I volunteer with Interact, Wake County’s domestic violence organization. I am co-chairing its capital campaign, and over the past two years we have raised $3.5 million toward our $5 million goal to purchase and renovate a new facility. In addition to moving into a new building, Interact is developing new programs and innovative collaborations. We are strengthening an organization that is helping women and children chart a new life for themselves, a life free of violence. We must break the cycle of violence that so frequently transfers from one generation to the next.

d.Health care: What should the state do next to address the problem of adults and children without adequate health care or insurance?

See #1 above.

e. Foreclosures: What more should the state be doing to help consumers avoid foreclosure and hold onto their homes?

North Carolina, like much of the rest of the county, is experiencing a growing foreclosure problem as a result of subprime lenders making loans that they knew borrowers could not pay back. Estimates are that the number of families facing foreclosure will increase by up to 20% this year to 60,000. Foreclosures not only cause financial and emotional distress to the families experiencing it, but it can have a terrible effect on neighborhoods and communities because foreclosures lower the value of neighboring properties. We have also seen how the subprime meltdown is dragging our national economy toward recession.

As state Senator, I would take the lead in pushing for legislation to require new legal protections in the foreclosure process for borrowers of subprime loans. Because the subprime industry is not doing enough to modify loans voluntarily, I would push legislation that would force lenders to. I would also strengthen the nonprofit housing counseling network across the state to help homeowners in distress.

I will also work to continue building upon our lending laws to ensure that old and new abuses are not permitted in this state to take advantage of borrowers at the time the loan is made. And finally, I will push for laws to protect homeowners from scammers who try to take advantage of their financial distress and trick them out of their homes and whatever wealth they have left. I have been advocating for these types of laws for years now and am prepared to hit the ground running to protect families.

At the Consumer Protection Division, we are working hard to reduce unnecessary foreclosures. I recently helped the Attorney General form a partnership with the Commissioner of Banks, local housing counseling nonprofits across the state, and NeighborWorks, a national nonprofit, to form a hotline for homeowners facing foreclosure. The toll free call will link the homeowner with a counselor who will engage with the lender’s servicing company to try to work out a solution. It is often in the interest of the lender to work out a compromise because once a foreclosure goes through, the home loses up to $50,000 in value immediately. Unfortunately, loan servicers have not been appropriately responsive to modifying loans directly with homeowners. Housing counselor intermediaries are often more successful with their intervention on behalf of homeowners. Therefore, we hope this program will keep thousands of families in their homes.

I do not want to diminish North Carolina’s crisis because for each of the 60,000 families who will experience a foreclosure this year and their neighbors, the crisis is absolutely real. Yet, North Carolina is fortunate that over the past few years to have had one of the lowest growth rates in number of foreclosures in the nation. As the top consumer lawyer in the state, I have worked hard to protect home owners from abusive lending practices over the past seven years. I helped to enact and enforce some of North Carolina’s progressive, anti-predatory lending laws, laws that serve as national models.

North Carolina enacted the first anti-predatory lending law in the nation in 1999. We have since strengthened the protections afforded homeowners by regulating and imposing duties on mortgage brokers, who originate the majority of subprime loans; requiring that lenders only lend to borrowers who have an ability to repay the loan; giving homeowners facing foreclosure more information so they can challenge faulty foreclosures; giving homeowners more rights to vindicate themselves against abusive lenders; making mortgage fraud a felony; and making it a crime to prey on someone in foreclosure by taking payment in advance to negotiate with the lender. I played a role in the passage of each of these laws.

I have also been part of enforcing North Carolina’s strong laws against violators. I negotiated the largest state consumer protection case in North Carolina history, a $22 million case against a large subprime lender who tricked thousands of consumers into buying a useless product folded into their home loans. The Consumer Protection Division was part of two other national settlements with two other major subprime lenders that returned millions more to North Carolina consumers. My Division has gone after dozens of scammers who trick homeowners in distress out of whatever money the homeowners still have.

Even with all that we have done to fight predatory lending and to keep North Carolina’s foreclosure rate to a minimum, there is more to be done, and I am ready to hit the ground running to continue protecting families and their homes.

f. The mental health crisis: Everyone agrees it’s a mess. Now what?

Our mental health system is indeed a mess. In the name of “reforming” mental health over the past decade, the state dismantled the old system without first ensuring a new system was in place and working adequately. As a result, families are struggling to find services for loved ones with mental illnesses, and communities and emergency rooms are left grappling with the consequences.

The state must go back to the drawing board to ensure that we provide quality mental health services both in our communities and in our state hospitals. To fix the community system, we must provide adequate care for people needing services by having enough beds in local psychiatric inpatient facilities or, if necessary, by contracting with local hospitals. In Wake County, we cannot eliminate needed beds and services at Dorothea Dix without having adequate, accessible alternatives. To ensure that adequate and appropriate outpatient services are available, we should consider reauthorizing local management entities to provide services as well as to monitor private providers.

The state must eliminate waste and abuse by private providers, which has been estimated by some to be as high as $400 million. Concerning community support, we must ensure that those receiving this important service both need it and are receiving the number of hours that they need. We must also develop more reasonable reimbursement rates. Wasting community support dollars on those who do not need it is outrageous when we need every available dollar to treat people with mental illness. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has not provided adequate oversight of its contract providers and the legislature has not provided adequate oversight of DHHS. Finally, and equally importantly, we must improve the quality of care at North Carolina’s state psychiatric hospitals by paying staff more and, again, improving oversight. There are simply too many horror stories, patient deaths, and federal sanctions.

We need to put people and their families first and make the changes necessary to fix our broken system.

g. Taxes: Given the needs, are they too high? Too low? Too regressive? What direction should the state be taking on the revenue side?

Our tax code is based on an early 20th century economy, designed during the Great Depression for an agriculture- and manufacturing-based economy. It is out of touch with today’s more service-oriented economy. We must revisit and modernize the entire code to ensure that our system is fair, simple, stable, secure, and progressive.

We should close corporate tax loopholes and reward work by strengthening the State Earned Income Tax Credit. The 2007 adoption of the State EITC was a positive first step, but a 3.5% state credit is too low We should broaden the base on the sales tax to include most services to enable more consistent revenues, lower rates, and greater progressivity. Regarding property taxes, which like the sales tax is regressive, we should enact a refundable circuit-breaker credit for low-income homeowners and renters so they can offset their property taxes by claiming a refundable credit against their state income tax.

7) 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 strongly support a moratorium. There are too many problems with how the death penalty is administered in North Carolina today. Execution is the ultimate penalty, and unlike other punishments, it cannot be taken back. I am very concerned about executing innocent people. I am also concerned the arbitrariness of its administration, as well as its drain on the justice system.

We also have to deal with the fact that there are two death rows at the moment – one for the dozens of people convicted of capital crimes before the 2001 reforms of the death penalty and one for those after 2001. The reforms improved the quality of representation and afforded prosecutors greater discretion. Substantially more people received a capital conviction before the reforms than after. This begs the question as to whether those convicted before 2001 received an adequate defense. We need to determine how to fairly assess whether those inmates sentenced prior to 2001 would have received the death penalty had those reforms been in place.

8. 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.

See #5 above.

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? 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?

I support women’s reproductive rights, including a woman’s constitutional right to choose. If the United State Supreme Court overturns Roe, I will absolutely fight to protect North Carolina’s current statute to protect that right here. I also support a school reproductive health curriculum that includes both abstinence and comprehensive, medically accurate information on the prevention of STDs and unintended pregnancy. As stated, North Carolina has the ninth highest teen pregnancy rate in the country; we can do much better. I am pleased that my steadfast support for reproductive rights earned me the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina in this election.

10. Should public employees have the right to bargain collectively in North Carolina?

Yes, both state and local government employees should have the right to bargain collectively. I would vote to repeal the language that prohibits public employee collective bargaining for both state and local employees. Collective bargaining is a process by which employees and employers can discuss and negotiate wages, benefits and working conditions, as well as other items related to employment. Collective bargaining works in the private sector, has worked in the federal government for the past 45 years, and works in nearly every state other than North Carolina. It is time for North Carolina to join the rest of the nation in authorizing a negotiating process that gives voice to state and local government employees and their issues.

I also support requiring governmental entities to withhold organizational dues for firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers at the officers’ election. The AFL-CIO and the Triangle Labor Council endorsed my campaign because of my commitment to working people.

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