Name as it appears on the ballot: Chaz Beasley
Party affiliation: D
Campaign website: ChazBeasley.com
Occupation & employer: State Representative, NC House District 92; Attorney, Alston & Bird LLP
Years lived in North Carolina: Off and on my entire life
1) If elected, what will be your top three priorities for the next four years?
I am running for Lieutenant Governor with one goal in mind: to build a state where everyone can live the best life they can live and be the best person they can be. My top three priorities are aimed at accomplishing this goal. They are:
Creating an economy that includes everyone. I was raised by a single mom here in North Carolina. She had to work two jobs to put food on our table. This is an all-too-common story for a lot of families in our state, particularly families from marginalized groups. As our state economy grows, whole pockets of our community are left out of our state’s success. The Lieutenant Governor appoints the members of several economic development-related boards. As Lieutenant Governor, I will appoint members who understand the need to build an economy with everyone in mind.
Ensuring every child gets a strong education. Despite growing up in poverty, I was able to get a quality public school education here in North Carolina. Too many kids do not get that same opportunity. Our schools are underfunded and our teachers are underpaid. Schools in low-income communities are often hardest hit by a lack of resources and struggle to hire quality teachers. That needs to change. Our Lieutenant Governor serves on both the State Board of Education and the State Board of Community Colleges. As Lieutenant Governor, I will fight to ensure that we prioritize our children and our teachers by giving them the resources they need to succeed.
Fighting for equity. I recognize how blessed I am to have beaten the odds. I also recognize that my success story is an exception, not the rule. There are far too many roadblocks placed in the way of poor families and families of color. These barriers exist because many people in positions of power have not experienced anything other than a life of privilege and wealth. The best way to change our state is to change our leadership. Our current Lieutenant Governor has fought for policies that hit marginalized groups hardest. As Lieutenant Governor, I will use my lived experiences – and my tie-breaking vote in the State Senate – to do the opposite.
2) Do you believe North Carolina should expand Medicaid? What do you believe the advantages would be? Are you concerned that costs would be greater than expected, as New York has experienced recently?
I support Medicaid expansion and cosponsored the bill to make it happen. We talk a lot about the benefits of Medicaid expansion: providing insurance to thousands of North Carolinians and adding billions of dollars to our economy. However, we do not talk enough about how lacking healthcare has major consequences for people – particularly people in marginalized groups. I know what it is like to live in a county without a hospital because it could not afford to stay open. I have experienced the stress of a loved one getting sick and not being able to get the care they need. Medicaid expansion benefits the people who get insurance, the hospitals struggling to stay afloat, and the individuals and families who would be more vulnerable if they lost access to healthcare.
Gov. Cooper has assembled a plan that would expand Medicaid at zero cost to taxpayers. The federal government covers 90% of the cost, and the healthcare industry has agreed to pay the remaining 10%. This mitigates the risk of cost overruns being passed onto taxpayers.
Given the major benefits and minimal cost, the time is right to expand Medicaid.
3) Citing a growing economy and budget surpluses, Republicans have called for additional tax cuts. Democrats, including Governor Cooper, have argued that the state has other needs, particularly education. Do you believe the tax cuts over the last decade have been effective in stimulating the economy? If given the choice, are there any tax cuts you would rescind or any new taxes you would enact? If so, toward what would you put the additional revenue?
The goal of Republican leadership in the General Assembly is to create a regressive tax system. They cut taxes for the wealthiest North Carolinians and the biggest corporations. Meanwhile, they have increased the number of items subject to taxes. They also increased fees, claiming that this is not the same as raising taxes. The result is clear: working families are paying more while the rich and privileged are paying less. This shift in tax burden happened while many families struggled to recover from the Great Recession. When we have advocated for larger raises for teachers, more investment in healthcare, and other critical needs, Republican leadership has claimed there is “not enough money.” This needs to stop.
Our state should, at minimum, freeze the future tax cuts planned for the well-to-do. We should stop a new round of huge tax cuts from becoming law. Right now, SB 622 is awaiting a vote in the NC House. It would create another $1 billion hole in our state revenue – at a time when our schools are, according to a recent report from the Leandro case, underfunded by $8 billion. I oppose this bill (and bills like it).
Working families in North Carolina should not shoulder more of the tax burden. We should have a progressive tax structure where the wealthy pay their fair share. As Lieutenant Governor, I will use my tie-breaking vote in the State Senate to support a tax code that does so.
4) In January, a superior court judge ruled that the state was not living up to its constitutional obligation to give students a “sound, basic education.” The judge relied on a consultant’s report, which some Republicans have criticized, that called for additional per-pupil spending. Do you believe the state needs to spend more on K–12 education? Broadly speaking, how much more do you think the state should spend?
I am a proud product of North Carolina’s public schools. Improving our schools is personal to me. Despite growing up in poverty, I was able to get a quality K-12 public school education here in North Carolina. Too many kids – particularly kids from disadvantaged backgrounds – do not get that same opportunity. Our schools are underfunded and our teachers are underpaid. Schools in low-income communities are often hardest hit by a lack of resources and struggle to hire quality teachers. That needs to change.
Our state should fill the $8 billion hole in education spending, as called for by the court in the Leandro case. We should also bring pay for our teachers to the national average in the next two years.
5) Do you believe that tax dollars should go to private schools? If so, under what circumstances? Do you support the expansion of charter schools? Why or why not?
Public tax dollars should pay for public schools. I do not support vouchers.
In recent years, North Carolina has seen explosive growth in the number of charter schools. These schools have operated without much oversight from public school systems. Often, state charter school policies have contributed to the resegregation of public schools. Additionally, new charter schools have taken necessary resources from traditional public schools. This is a major departure from the original purpose of charter schools. Worse, several charter schools have closed in the middle of the school year, leaving children and families uncertain about their futures.
Our public school system should operate with one goal in mind: ensuring every child has a world-class education. Our public school system needs more innovation and flexibility. However, we cannot allow a lack of charter school accountability to worsen educational outcomes for students as a whole.
6) Gerrymandering has been the subject of debate and lawsuits in North Carolina for the last decade. Do you believe the state should establish an independent process for drawing legislative and congressional districts? If so, what would it look like?
We must create an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission. While I am open to negotiating what the commission would look like, I believe it should include Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliateds. I have cosponsored multiple bills to make this a reality. It is time that voters pick their politicians, not vice-versa.
As Lieutenant Governor, I will use my tie-breaking vote in the State Senate to oppose gerrymandering, regardless of which party controls the chamber.
7) That National Popular Vote Interstate Compact has been approved by 16 jurisdictions controlling 196 electoral votes for president; it will become effective should states with 74 additional popular votes approve it. North Carolina has 15. Do you believe North Carolina should join this effort, or do you believe the current system should remain in place?
While I believe that changes to the electoral college system should happen through an amendment to the US Constitution, I am open to this idea.
8) Do you think that transgender individuals should have their treatments for gender dysphoria covered under the state’s health care plan?
Yes. Many transgender individuals struggle to afford the expensive treatments involved if they do not have coverage. This further complicates what can already be a difficult stage in their lives. Many private sector plans have begun covering this treatment in a cost-effective manner. Our state’s health plan can do the same.
9) Given the conservative makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, several states have recently pursued aggressive abortion restrictions, even laws that directly challenge Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. If elected, would you support efforts to restrict access to abortion in North Carolina? For that matter, would you support efforts to expand access to abortion?
I support a woman’s right to determine what is best for herself and to control her own body. Reproductive decisions are healthcare decisions, and changes in policies around access should be limited to medical considerations. My votes in the General Assembly have been consistent with these beliefs. As Lieutenant Governor, I will work with legislators, community leaders, and medical experts to ensure that politicians do not interfere with private decisions that should be made between a woman and her doctor.
10) Later this year, provisions of HB 142, the replacement for HB 2, will expire, including sections that prohibit local governments from passing higher minimum wages and passing antidiscrimination ordinances. Do you think municipalities such as Charlotte and Raleigh should be permitted to raise the minimum wage or pass an antidiscrimination ordinance that includes protections for transgender people in public accommodations?
When supporting LGBTQ+ North Carolinians, allies have a responsibility to speak out against discrimination – and to act in an affirming way when the time comes.
I spoke out against HB2 from day one – on social media, on television, in speeches, in communications with supporters, and elsewhere. I also committed to a full repeal. I did so despite running in a competitive district that we were trying to flip from red to blue. Some warned me about the political wisdom of doing so, but I had to be true to my values.
When the time came to act against HB2, I supported full repeal. I remained convinced that affirming any form of discrimination with my vote was bad for our people and contrary to my values. I voted against HB 142 because I could not, in good conscience, vote for a bill that did not completely repeal HB2 and continued to enshrine discrimination in state law. I am the only candidate for Lieutenant Governor – and the only Democrat running in a statewide race – who voted against HB 142.
Communities should be able to determine what is best for themselves. This is especially true when deciding to give working families a well-earned raise and fighting discrimination in all its forms. As Lieutenant Governor, I will continue to speak up – and act – consistent with these values.
11) In 2018, voters passed a constitutional amendment requiring voter identification, and the General Assembly soon passed a law putting it into effect. That law has since been put on hold, at least for the primary, pending a lawsuit. Do you believe in-person voter fraud is a serious threat, and the law is a reasonable way to address it? Do you believe the voter ID law should be repealed? Why or why not?
Several studies and investigations have shown that in-person voter fraud is basically nonexistent in our state. However, adding further restrictions to the fundamental right to vote, including voter ID, can impede the access of thousands of North Carolinians to the polls. Voter ID requirements disproportionately impact the most vulnerable North Carolinians – those whose voices are often ignored in our political discourse.
In the General Assembly, we should do what we can to make the ability to vote simpler, not harder. I do not support any laws that impede the fundamental right to vote and will work to repeal them.
12) North Carolina’s coast has seen several major storms in recent years, and scientists say this trend is likely to continue as the effects of the climate crisis become more pronounced. What steps do you believe North Carolina should take to mitigate the damage these storms can cause?
Climate change is a scientifically-demonstrable reality – it’s a fact. I believe that we must act to reduce our negative impact on the environment and to preserve our planet. To do so, we must stop further damage while mitigating the current effects of stronger storms.
To reduce our carbon footprint, I support efforts to reduce our dependence on carbon-based fuel sources while increasing our clean, renewable energy power supplies. Modernized standards are a crucial step in the right direction. In North Carolina, we must continue to incentivize and support clean energy development and innovation. Our solar energy industry in particular is thriving, as our state has plenty of open space and sunshine to support this growing industry. North Carolina can be a leader in reducing our nation’s carbon footprint.
For people dealing with the effects of storms today, we must ensure they have the resources they need to rebuild stronger and safer than before. This requires regular updates to building codes. If rebuilding is impossible or inadvisable, we should ensure they have the resources to move to safer areas. This includes purchasing properties located in flood plains. We must also ensure that riparian buffers and open space that absorb water are protected.
13) Do you believe that elected North Carolina sheriffs should be required to cooperate with immigration authorities, even if they believe that doing so makes their communities less safe?
I voted against HB 370, the bill that would strip local sheriffs’ ability to determine what was best for their communities. Unlike the bill’s sponsors, I spoke with sheriffs across North Carolina before doing so. I do not believe we should make new laws about our sheriffs without our sheriffs. These sheriffs live in their communities, so they have a personal stake in keeping these communities safe.
14) What restrictions would you support, if any, on the rights of North Carolina residents to obtain and carry firearms? Do you believe that assault weapons should be banned? Do you believe that the state should pass “red-flag” laws?
I grew up in rural North Carolina in a gun-owning family. I became a gun owner as an adult. Still, we can do a lot more to prevent gun violence while still respecting an individual’s right to lawfully purchase and own a gun. This includes instituting universal background checks for gun purchases and stopping the sale of weapons defined as “assault weapons.” We should also ban bump stocks like the ones used in the Las Vegas massacre. I also support red-flag laws that create a process for threatening individuals to turn over their guns if they receive a court order to do so. Nothing can bring back the people we have lost to gun violence, but we can honor their memories by doing more to keep our communities safe.
15) North Carolina has not executed anyone since 2006, and challenges to the constitutionality of the state’s death penalty continue. Would you support the repeal of the death penalty in North Carolina? If not, do you believe the legislature should change the law to restart executions?
In politics, there is a lot of pressure to have firm yes or no answers to every question. I believe it is best to be direct about my beliefs. I do not see many instances where the death penalty is necessary to achieve justice for victims and their families. Its deterrent value is limited. Black men are disproportionately sentenced to death, and far too many people on death row have been found innocent. As a person of faith, I have often struggled with the idea that it is an appropriate form of punishment. For lethal injection specifically, several states are experimenting with ineffective, painful new cocktails that may violate the 8th Amendment. Still, there may be rare cases where it is the last remaining option. For example, there are circumstances where people can still present a danger to the public while behind bars. Leaders in terrorist organizations or criminal enterprises are examples. If there is a death penalty, it should be extremely rare and maintain an extensive appeals process. In the vast majority of cases, life without parole is a better alternative to the death penalty.
16) Regardless of what you think of his policies, do you believe that Donald Trump is a good role model and an honorable person?
17) Are there any issues this questionnaire has not addressed that you would like to address?
At a time when sexual assault is a major part of our public discourse, we have made positive changes in our state laws on the issue.
Almost two years ago, someone drugged a young woman’s drink in my home county. She reported this to law enforcement, only to learn that there was nothing they could do. What happened to her fell into a loophole in our state’s laws. She shared her story with me and I committed to her that we would fix the laws that block survivors’ access to justice.
To keep my word, I created a bipartisan coalition of legislators and community stakeholders. We worked together on a bill to modernize our sexual assault laws. A majority of members in the NC House – both Democrats and Republicans – agreed to cosponsor the bill. It passed the House unanimously.
I then worked with my Republican and Democratic colleagues in the legislature to combine our house bill with others to create a comprehensive sexual assault and child protection bill. We were able to pass this major bill unanimously in the House and Senate. I was proud to stand behind the Governor as he signed the bill into law.
Several loopholes, including the consent and incapacitation loopholes, are no more.
This effort is an example of using bipartisan agreement to deliver positive change without compromising my values. I will continue to do so as Lieutenant Governor.