Ronnie Ansley | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week

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Ronnie Ansley

Candidate for Agriculture Commissioner


Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Ronnie Ansley

Party: Democrat

Date of Birth: November 20, 1961

Campaign Web Site:

Occupation & Employer: Attorney at Law - Self

Years lived in North Carolina: Entire life (except for law school)

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

1) Bio-fuels and renewable, sustainable energy sources - making North Carolina number one in the Nation in clean, green energy independence, without using corn and other feed stuffs to make fuel;

2) Economy -- increased sales and marketing of NC agricultural products and locally grown and marketed products; and

3) Food Safety -- human and animal/pet food safety. Increase inspections of imported products and product labeling to allow consumers to know the state and nation of origin of the products they purchase and to allow farm of origin to be determined in the event of a health risk due to disease or other problems.

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.

I have been involved in agriculture my entire life and have earned a Bachelor's and Master's Degree in Agriculture Education and a Law Degree. I have worked in the agriculture industry as an agriculture sales representative and have been practicing law since 1991, when I opened my trial practice in Raleigh. I presently am serving as the National President of the Future Farmers of America Alumni Association. My practical experiences in all of these areas have and will continue to assist me in working with people from many areas of expertise and in various situations. Bringing people together to work and accomplish goals has always been a part of my leadership style.

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 socially conscious and economically responsible. I believe in caring for those who cannot care for themselves and in spending wisely. I run my law practice and our campaign with an eye on reducing waste and controlling spending while contributing to and giving back to the community through volunteer work.

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

I believe in and will strive to make the Department of Agriculture better reflect the diversity of our state. We need to open more jobs and internship opportunities to people of all races and backgrounds. We also need to do more to assist those in need by increasing our involvement in gleaning projects and assisting in donations and collection of food for our food banks.

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 believe all people are equal and oppose all forms of prejudice. I will treat all people equally and with respect no matter the situation or issue.

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

a. Sustainable farming: North Carolina has lost 6,000 farms and 300,000 acres of farmland since 2002, more than any other state. What needs to be done to stem the loss of farmland, particularly small farms? What would you do as Agriculture Commissioner to encourage sustainable, organic farming throughout North Carolina?

We must continue to work to conserve and protect our farmland, open & green space and our family farms. We must look to protect the family farm and stop the loss of farms and agricultural land due to estate taxes imposed on a family when they suffer a death. We should not put family farms out of business due to these types of "death taxes". We must encourage and support sustainable, organic farming and family farms in North Carolina. We must do more to assist with marketing of the products produced on these farms and work to join groups together in an effort to get the largest return on their combined marketing dollars. We also need to increase our efforts to have more locally grown products sold in our stores (large and small) and increase the number of farmers markets across the state.

b. Pesticide exposure to those working in the farming, fishing and forestry industries: A new law was passed in the short legislative session requiring additional recordkeeping for pesticide applications. It also prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who report illegal or negligent use of pesticides. What are your plans for enforcing these laws? What additional enforcement measures can the Agriculture Department's Pesticide Division implement to assure that pesticides and pesticide drift do not adversely affect workers and NC residents?

These laws must be enforced and the records need to be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure compliance. Random spot checks need to be preformed to ensure workers, NC residents and our environment are not being harmed by the illegal or negligent use of pesticides.

c. Euthanasia rules: The Board of Agriculture could pass the euthanasia rules governing companion animals. However, there is no one on the board whose area of expertise is listed as that of small animal welfare. What is your view on the make up of the board and the inclusion of such a representative?

The Board of Agriculture should have the most diverse make up possible. There needs to be members with expertise in small animal, as well as, large animal welfare. We must ensure the most human forms of euthanasia are used. I do not support the use of gas chambers for euthanasia of animals.

d. What are your views on the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility and its possible sitting in Butner? What are the pros and cons of locating it here? What role does the public opinion and that of agricultural interests play in your support of or opposition to the facility?

While we need facilities such as those described above, I do not support bringing such a facility to Butner at this time. In the research I have seen, I have not found what I believe to be the proper safeguards to insure the safety of such a facility. The risks are too high to have such a facility without assurances of safety to our citizens, our animals and our land. I believe having such a facility on an island (as it is now) is a much better choice than Butner at this time. Public opinion should always be sought and listened to, and agricultural interests must be considered, however, safety must be the guide in making these types of decisions.

7. As member of the Council of State, you would have input on the issue of the death penalty, including the execution protocol, which was taken up by the Council last year. Do you feel qualified to vote on such issues? If so, how would you vote on the execution protocol and other death penalty matters that may come before the Council? And is the Council of State an appropriate body to deliberate these issues?

As an attorney with many years experience in criminal law, I do feel qualified to weigh in and vote on such issues. I would have to hear all the information and evidence on any issue before making a decision and voting on the issue. As it stands now, I believe we need to impose a moratorium on the death penalty until we work through the problems, which face the system. While the Council of State may not be the best body to deliberate these issues, that is the law at this time and we are bound to follow it. I think the North Carolina and US Supreme Courts are the more appropriate bodies to deliberate and decide these issues.

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