Name as it appears on the ballot: Christine Kelly
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: www.christinekellyfornc.com
Occupation & employer: Sr. Marketing Digital Manager, SAS Institute
Years lived in North Carolina: 30 years
1. What in your background qualifies you to represent the people of North Carolina effectively? What would you cite as your three biggest career accomplishments?
I believe I can represent the people of North Carolina effectively because of my four years of service on the Holly Springs Town Council alongside my decades of community service in Southern Wake County—including my membership in the Holly Springs Rotary, Holly Springs MLK Jr. Committee, NC State Oaks Leadership Scholars Program Steering Committee, League of Women Voters of Wake County, NAACP Raleigh-Apex Branch, Holly Springs Volunteer Coordinator for Western Regional Food Security Action Group, NC Free Moms Hugs, and NC Moms Demand Action. I have a history of tackling community issues, such as my efforts to work with Wake County to address odor issues from the South Wake Landfill in Holly Springs. My passion for my community and my knowledge of Southern Wake, make me qualified to represent North Carolinians in District 37.
Three of the highlights of my time on the Holly Springs Town Council are:
1). I was instrumental in making Holly Springs a Tree City USA community. Along with achieving that designation, I also helped to put in place Tree Preservation Ordinances and a Tree Advisory Board.
2). I fought for funding to ensure everyone serving on our police force wears body cameras. To increase transparency further, I helped to launch a web portal to demonstrate to our community that our public safety teams are dedicated to serving all residents.
3). I helped to approve key economic development deals with FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies and Amgen Inc., which will result in over 1,000 quality jobs in our community. An even further-reaching impact will be that these deals will change our commercial tax base. Meaning, it will help the area by giving us more opportunities for funding future infrastructure needs and extending town services.
2. What do you believe to be the three most pressing issues facing the next General Assembly? What steps do you believe the state should take to address them?
The three most pressing issues facing the NCGA are: fully funding and bolstering our public education system, protecting and preserving our environment, and making healthcare accessible and affordable for everyone.
The steps are already laid out by the Leandro case on how to fund our schools. We need to fight to make sure those promises are fulfilled. As a priority we need to increase teacher pay, and diversify our workforce so that teachers are a better representation of our students. With our environment, we need a two-prong approach: mitigate the current damage from climate change, and buffer the area for future damage. This makes sense from both a scientific perspective as well as an economic one since ecological disasters and ever-worsening weather disasters are extremely costly. In order to ensure that all North Carolinans have access to healthcare they can afford, we need to start by closing Medicaid gaps. This area needs significant attention. With NC having so many resources and being the 9th largest state for population, being ranked 41st for healthcare quality is inexcusable, and needs to be addressed by the North Carolina General Assembly.
3. To what extent do you support municipalities exerting local control over issues such as regulating greenhouse gas emissions, criminal justice reforms and police oversight, and passing development-regulating ordinances?
Municipal governments should have an opportunity to set regional goals and policies to support the issues mentioned above. I believe such local bills would augment or extend beyond policies set at the State level to reflect the unique needs of each particular community.
4. Do you support raising North Carolina’s minimum wage, and if so by how much? If not, what other initiatives would you take to support low-income families in North Carolina?
Yes, I support raising North Carolina’s minimum wage to $15.00 per hour. Bills like NC House Bill 289 (2017) & NC Senate Bill 673 (2021)—which have phased-approaches for increasing the minimum wage of $7.25 to $15—need to be brought to the floor for a vote, instead of being stalled in committees. Another initiative I support that would benefit all North Carolinians, including low-income families, would be to expand our state broadband internet coverage. We need to make broadband fully accessible and affordable for all households, businesses, and schools.
5. With rent, property taxes, and home sale prices all rising, what, if anything, should the state legislature do to address this growing affordability crisis?
I pushed to have Holly Springs fund an affordable housing study in the fall 2021 when I was on Town Council because I recognize we need to face this crisis with innovative solutions. We must focus on coordinating with municipalities, as well as county and state governing bodies in order to find solutions. One possibility is expanding zoning to allow for more housing diversity. Another way to address the situation is to increase the minimum wage so that North Carolinians could more easily afford their rent or mortgages.
6. Do you believe that the state government has an obligation to prevent the impacts of climate change? If so, please state three specific policies you support to address climate change.
Yes, I believe the state government has an obligation to prevent impacts of climate change. Here are some policies I support to to address climate change in North Carolina:
• I support legislation to bring a reduction in the emission of carbon dioxide and work towards carbon neutrality. I applaud Governor Cooper’s Executive Orders No. 246 detailing next steps on the path to a clean energy and equitable economy for North Carolina. I also am excited about his Executive Order No. 80, which allows for North Carolina to address climate change, and transition to a clean energy economy.
• I support legislation that supports clean water—protecting and cleaning ground and surface water, as well as passing policies to hold polluters accountable for the clean-up. I also believe there should be fines in proportion to the damage caused by their actions.
• I support legislation to expand green building programs. Having more structures LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified is a step in the right direction. We need to incentivize this for both new construction and existing buildings in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
7. Would you support an independent process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts?
Yes, independent commissions should be the ones involved in drawing maps instead of politicians, in order to ensure neither party can influence the way districts are drawn.
8. Does the General Assembly have a constitutional obligation to comply with the state Supreme Court order in the Leandro case to fully fund public schools and give every child in North Carolina a sound basic education?
Yes, the Supreme Court of North Carolina’s decision in Leandro v. The State of North Carolina (1997) affirmed that the state has a constitutional responsibility to provide every student with an equal opportunity for a sound basic education and that the state was failing to meet that responsibility. As documented in this action plan, the challenges of meeting this responsibility have increased since the original decision, and North Carolina needs to significantly increase its commitment and efforts to provide for the education of every student. In order to do so, we will need to strategically improve and transform multiple components of our education system—from ensuring an adequate supply of qualified teachers and principals, to improving curriculum, instruction and assessment, to more effectively addressing the needs of at-risk students, and addressing the persistent gaps in achievement among groups of students.
9. The U.S. Supreme Court may issue a ruling this summer that guts, or even overturns, Roe v. Wade. As a state lawmaker, would you support legislation that limits or prohibits abortion in North Carolina, or punishes/criminalizes abortion providers or patients?
No, I do not believe there should be any restrictions for people in our state to gain access to abortion services, access to prenatal and postnatal care, or access to family planning services.
10. Should North Carolina expand Medicaid? Where do you stand on increasing the number of slots for the Innovations Waiver for special needs individuals?
I support expanding Medicaid in North Carolina. We need to focus on healthcare priorities so that we close the current coverage gap for those who are not eligible for Medicaid, help small businesses with programs for them to have cost-effective health insurance plans for their employees, and work with prescription drug companies to lower the costs of drug prices. I fully support the work that the ‘Joint Legislative Committee on Access to Healthcare and Medicaid Expansion’ is doing as they search for ways to expand healthcare access to North Carolinians most in need.
I support expanding the Innovations Waivers. There are 12,000 IDD (intellectually and developmentally disabled) patients on innovation waivers, with an equal amount on the waitlist. The current expansion for Innovation Waivers does not address the long and growing waitlist. We must increase the number of slots available because disability rights are human rights.
11. Do you support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws? Do you support full legalization? Please explain your position.
I support passing the North Carolina Compassionate Care Act which has bipartisan support in the NC Senate. It sets a list of conditions by which patients with certain conditions, or in hospice, would be allowed to use marijuana as treatment. I would support that legislation when it comes before the NC House. I am open to learning more about how legalizing recreational marijuana would benefit our State economically, as it has in other states.