What made you decide to run?

I ran initially in 2014 because I saw the Republican-controlled General Assembly really taking away everything we know makes North Carolina a great place to live, work, and raise a family. They hadn’t expanded Medicaid; they were not funding schools. I just couldn’t sit by and watch that happen to the state I love.

Dems hoped for a blue wave this election that would help them gain footing in the legislature, which obviously didn’t happen. But you managed to flip Wake County’s District 18, one of the county’s last Republican strongholds, previously held by Republican John Alexander, Jr. What will you do to make your first term count?

I spent yesterday lamenting what could have been when we didn’t get the [seats] we wanted to flip the state senate. I certainly dreamed of going into Tuesday that we would flip the Senate and get a lot done in the first few weeks—expand Medicaid, give our teachers raises. I had all those hopes and dreams, but of course, that’s not what happened. So I spent yesterday thinking about what does being on the defensive mean.

Some of the things I am interested in doing is to make sure people still have access to affordable, equitable health care. I would like that to be done through Medicaid expansion. Republicans haven’t been interested in doing that before; I’m not sure they will be interested in doing it now, but I am looking for ways to work across the aisle.

There are things that this district needs. We have to make sure we have the infrastructure to support the growing district, and that means things like roads and universal broadband, so I’m hoping we can work with the other side on some of those things that will really make an impact in District 18.

As a rookie senator, what’s something folks would be surprised to learn about you? 

I think what people might not know about me is I actually started my career in constituent services, working for Congressman David Price. It was such a good way to cut my teeth working in government, because I learned a lot about helping constituents. There’s a big component of this, which is making and passing laws for the betterment of North Carolina. But another big service senators and house members provide is constituent services and helping cut government red tape, helping people figure out what they need in order to thrive. I’ve talked to so many people this year that need so much help in the wake of COVID-19. So I’m really looking forward to not just advocating for laws, but really providing constituent services.

Then the other thing that I’ll say is that I am an avid runner. I was never an athlete growing up. Later in my adult life, I became a runner, and I have run all sorts of distances. My biggest accomplishment running is I did the Dopey Challenge down in Disney World. It’s a four-day race where you start with a 5k, then a 10k, then a half marathon, and then a full marathon. I did it with my dad, who at the time was 67 years old. We crossed the finish line together.  

Follow Interim Editor-in-Chief Leigh Tauss on Twitter or send an email to ltauss@indyweek.com

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