Clean drinking water is more than a health issue. It’s an economic issue. It’s an environmental issue. It’s a social justice issue. All the talk of growth and development in our community is moot if we don’t fix this. Cleaning up this mess and carefully protecting our river going forward may be expensive. But not taking those steps will be catastrophic.
The State of North Carolina has a responsibility to help restore our water quality and to help us ensure that this never happens again. I will work to fund the DEQ, sponsor and promote legislation to protect our waterways, and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. I’ve spoken with scientists and policy experts to craft a detailed, step-by-step legislative plan to address this issue in a holistic way. We need a change of leadership in Raleigh if we want to implement a meaningful plan. The current legislature has made it abundantly clear that they are not interested in solutions. We need to move North Carolina Forward Again.
As recently as a decade ago, North Carolina schools were in the top 20 in the nation- now we are 40th. This is a prime example of how our state has been moving backward.
A well-rounded education is the foundation for a stable democracy. We need a robust system that prepares our children for the many challenges and opportunities they will face in life. In order for this to occur, we need to spend time dismantling many of the barriers that exist right now: our schools are underfunded, our teachers and administrators are underpaid, and our students receive unequal educations based on factors like race, geography, and income level. We need to fund and support opportunities for students across North Carolina, from pre-K to graduation, to have an equitable system that allows every child to thrive.
But quality education in our state is not just an issue for our students, it’s an issue about our economy. If we want to attract the companies that will provide good-paying, 21st-century jobs to our state we must provide the amenities that those companies are looking for. That doesn’t just mean roads, infrastructure, and tax incentives. Businesses want to locate in areas where their employees want to live; that translates to areas with top schools. So, the question is not “how will we fund improvements to our public education system?” the question is, “how can we afford not to?”
I understand what the film industry means to this community- it provided countless direct and indirect jobs in our region and was a huge contributor to our economy. The stripping of full film incentives cost North Carolina thousands of jobs, and not just those directly involved with filming. It robbed us of hospitality roles, retail opportunities, tourism work, and service industry positions. Restoring the film industry presence in our area will take time, but we must restore full permanent film incentives, and I will work tirelessly in Raleigh to secure allies in the legislature to get this done.
But if we are to get the film industry to return in force to North Carolina we must also repair the damage that was done by the passage of HB2 and continues to be done by HB142, the bill that purported to repeal HB2. We cannot simply wait until this legislation expires in December of 2020 to pass real civil rights protections for all our citizens if we want film and other industries to return and expand in North Carolina.
Our beaches are the heart of our community. They are the reason that many of us choose to live here. They are a vital part of our lifestyle, but they are also a vital part of our economy. Coastal tourism generates $3.4 billion annually in North Carolina. It supports 35,000 jobs in the eastern part of the state. North Carolina has a uniquely dynamic yet fragile coast, with approximately 300 miles of coastline, 2.5 million acres of estuarine waters, and 10,000 miles of estuarine shoreline, all of which would be irreparably damaged or destroyed by even one small oil spill. I will work to support Gov. Cooper in his efforts to thwart the president’s plans to drill off of our coast.