Shirley Hicks | Candidate Questionnaires - Statewide | Indy Week

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Shirley Hicks

NCGA House 33


1. How would you rate the 2015 session of the General Assembly?

The General Assembly pushed bills through too quickly hid agendas unrelated to the bills being passed. The General Assembly continues to give massive tax handouts to special interests and out-of-state corporations, but they refuse to care for the citizens of North Carolina by expanding Medicaid to the poorest of us, increasing minimum wages, embracing the educational and teaching profession by creating incentives which would bring the brightest educators to North Carolina. If elected, I would push for Medicaid programs to cover all people with household incomes below 138 percent of poverty ($27,724 for a family of three in 2015). I would also push for more funding for a stronger public education system from pre-K-12 and affordable public universities because this will help the economic attract the best professional and new businesses.

2. If you are challenging an incumbent, what decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with? If you are an incumbent, what issues do you believe failed to get the attention they deserve and should be addressed in the next session?

While I feel that the incumbent has done what she can to represent the district, I would like to try new tactics to achieve goals that would bring agout better lawmaking decisions.

3. Education spending, if you include the UNC system, accounts for more than half of the state budget. But per-pupil K-12 spending is among the lowest in the country. Does the state need to allocate more money to classrooms? Should teachers be given a raise? If so, how would you propose to pay for it?

Funding classrooms and education in general needs to increase. Since 2007-08 the number of students has increased by more than 48,000, yet the funding level has decreased by $100 million ( With these facts, I would give the NC tax structure in-depth consideration to ascertain if it provides adequate resources to ensure equal access to high-quality education for all students. As a legislator, my top priorities for public education would be to approve sufficient funding and opportunity for a sound basic education to all students and to push legislation, revenue, and appropriations that maintain a focus on success for North Carolina public school students by providing qualified teachers and administrators to support student success and operations in North Carolina’s public schools.

4. The state in recent years has embraced charter schools and vouchers. Proponents argue that these alternatives to traditional public education offer options for parents who would otherwise have to place their child in a subpar school. Opponents argue that these alternatives divert resources from schools that need them the most. Do you believe North Carolina needs more or fewer of these alternative education options?

As I understand it, for-profit charter schools are not governed by an elected board.  For-profit companies may manage them, and there is no requirement that board members reside in North Carolina. Only 50% of their teachers are required to have a license, they have no curriculum requirements, no restrictions on class size, are not required to hold teacher workdays for professional training and development, are not required to protect students against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, are not required to provide transportation to students (those that do provide transportation are not subject to the same safety standards as are traditional public schools), and, are not required to provide free and reduced price meals for qualifying students. The State Board of Education lacks adequate staff and a sufficiently rigorous process for evaluating applications and tracking charter success. These issues concern me and thus, I, personally, would not want any additional charter schools in North Carolina.

5. The secretive process by which the UNC board hired Margaret Spellings has been roundly criticized in the media. Do you believe the Legislature should be more directly involved with university-system decisions of this nature? Also, do you believe the Board of Governors has become overly politicized in recent years, as some have alleged?

Yes I believe that the Legislature should be more directly involved, because the UNC Board of Governors is overly politicized.

6. What are your three biggest budgetary priorities? Please be specific.

Education must be a top budget priority among legislators. A strong public education system, fully funded every year, will help attract the best educators, businesses, and industries and prepare our children to be productive and successful citizens. As a legislator, I will work with the NCAE, the NC State Board of Education, and other local education leaders to make sure their needs are met. I will make sure that their voices and interests are heard at the NC General Assembly. I will work with our state’s House education leaders to make sure they are aware of our needs and the needs or our children.
COLA and Annual raises for State Employees and a minimum wage increase of all. I want to make sure help goes to those who truly need it today, and enable people to provide for themselves without having the government over-tax their hard work.  More and more, citizens of NC are struggling to make ends meet.  Many of us are only one pay check from being homeless.  The citizens of Wake County and the State of North Carolina deserve to make decent and livable wages so that they can provide for themselves and their families.  If elected to the NC House of Representatives, I will work hard to bring about wage increase to $15.00 per hour that will allow individuals and families to live more comfortably, now and in the future.
I will also support funding of clean energy exploration and development.

7. North Carolina has not executed anyone in 10 years, but it has 148 people on death row. Would you support restarting executions, or do you believe the death penalty should be abolished?
NC should abolish the death penalty. I have never been a supporter.
8. Last year, over the governor’s veto, the Legislature passed S.B. 2, which allows magistrates to opt out of performing same-sex-marriage ceremonies? Do you support S.B. 2 or believe it should be repealed? Why or why not?

I believe in the separation of church and state. I believe marriage is a religious matter and not a state matter. I feel that states should not discriminate when it comes to issuing marriage licenses, but they should not be made to perform ceremonies.

9. Also in the last year’s session, the Legislature passed a bill forcing abortion providers to send the Department of Health and Human Services ultrasound images of some aborted fetuses. Do you believe such provisions are necessary, or is this a case of the state inappropriately interfering in women’s health care decisions?

I support a woman’s right to choose. I do not support any bill forcing abortion providers to send the Department of Health and Human Services ultrasound images of some aborted fetuses or requiring that a woman undergo an ultrasound prior this bill goes too far and I will not support any bill which would discouraged an individual from making this very personal choice.

10. If elected, what would you do to protect North Carolina’s environment and natural resources? Do you believe state environmental regulatory bodies need more funding or less funding, and why?

If elected, I would work to repeal the fracking legislation and oppose any off-shore drilling and explorations. I would support more funding for the exploration and development of clean energy. I am opposed to coastal off-shore drilling and exploration due to environmental concerns. We have witnessed the devastating results of oil spills in Aleutian Islands, Alaska, 2004, New Orleans, La., 2005 and 2008, Port Arthur, Texas, 2010, and in Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana , 2010. I am against fracking in North Carolina as well. I do not want us to have another “Flint, Michigan”, where are water is contaminated and undrinkable due to fracking. An “accident” with off-shore drilling and exploration and/or fracking would be too costly to our health, our economy, and our environment. I do not like the having the Harris nuclear plant in our state. I would be opposed to another nuclear plant in our state. I believe our resources can best be used developing renewable energy, such as solar energy and biomass and wind.

11. In recent years, the Legislature has reconfigured districts for both the Wake County Board of Education and the Wake County Board of Commissioners in a manner that critics allege was done to boost Republican electoral hopes. Do you believe this redistricting was proper? Would you support repealing these bills?

I do not believe the redistricting was done properly. I would support repealing the bill.

12. On reapportionment, both parties have shown that they will abuse the redistricting process when given a chance. Will you support a bill in the next session to turn all future redistricting over to a non-partisan or bi-partisan independent commission?

Yes, I would support legislation that ends the practice of lawmakers drawing their own districts and allows for an independent, nonpartisan entity to produce legislative and congressional maps because lawmakers have drawn district lines to benefit themselves. A subdivision should not be divided into two House district. The redrawing of educational districts left many African Americans under-represented.

13. 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.

As a legislator, to promote governance and transparency, I will support traditional districts and charter schools to work together to ensure a coordinated approach that serves all children; school governance to be representative and transparent; charter schools to ensure equal access to interested students and prohibit practices that discourage enrollment or disproportionately push enrolled students out of the school; annual reports on enrollment and retention; charter schools discipline policy to be fair and transparent; charter schools to provide equitable and adequate school facilities.  

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