Name as it appears on the ballot: Dee Watson
Party affiliation: Libertarian
Campaign website: https://electdeewatson.org/
Occupation & employer: Retired
Years lived in North Carolina: 26
1. What in your background qualifies you to represent the people of your North Carolina district effectively? What would you cite as your three biggest career accomplishments?
I was a statistician at Duke University for 10 years and I contracted to the pharmaceutical industry as a statistical programmer for 10 years. This gives me the perspective of a data driven factual person, who understands data, modeling pitfalls, and working toward a common goal for the benefit of everyone.
I’ve always worked in places where opinions are formed from fact finding. When I see politicians selectively pick facts to bolster their opinions, I’m shocked by how counterproductive they are. The best way to solve any problem is to first acquire the relevant information. Then honest people typically agree on the best course of action. If elected, that’s what I hope to bring to the capital.
My favorite work accomplishments are:
- I was a co-author on dozens of peer reviewed papers and one of them changed standard of care in early stage lung cancer.
- I have helped with the FDA submission of multiple compounds that have been approved to help treat cancer.
- While contracting to pharma I set up my own small business and learned about the relevant tax code and implications.
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?
- Education reform (see question 8)
- Health Care reform (see question 11)
- Police accountability/transparency
Police are public employees and anyone encountering police that wish to file any complaint should have access to body camera and dash camera footage. If an individual who is arrested or detained by police wishes to make the footage public then this is their right and their rights should be respected. Results of internal investigations should be accessible to the public. When an adult is arrested and found not-guilty that information is available to the public and police should be held to the same standard.
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?
Governments on all levels should increase transparency and individual liberty even when it means nullifying unjust laws.
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?
No, minimum wage prices lower entry level people out of the market and decrease opportunity.
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?
There is an affordability crisis due to an inadequate supply of diversified housing. To address this we must increase supply. Relaxing zoning requirements and relaxing and simplifying permit processes will reduce the cost of building new homes and greatly increase the number of affordable housing units.
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.
Governments should protect property rights. Climate change has been happening for billions of years, and it can not be stopped anymore than we can stop time.
7. Would you support an independent process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts?
Yes. I fully endorse the recommendations of Fair Districts NC.
Current voter registration in NC is: Unaffiliated (35%), Democrats (34%), Republicans (30%), Libertarians (1%), and Green (<1%). A bi-partisan commission disenfranchises 34% of the electorate. Any commission should be non-partisan, transparent, have open input from residents, and have a goal to eliminate gerrymandering.
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?
In Wake County, Bugg Elementary has the lowest test scores in the district. Bugg also has a per pupil expenditure (PPE) of $13,995 per student. This means funding at Bugg is more than $6,500 higher than schools like Green Hope High and Panther Creek. If funding were the issue there wouldn’t be an issue. Judge Manning who presided over Leandro stated: “The primary cause of the failure to achieve grade-level performance in reading is not money, but a failure of classroom instruction and the leadership in a school.” Public schools need to be accountable, and the best way to do that is to put parents in charge of how the tax dollars allocated for their child are spent.
North Carolina currently has state funded Educational Savings Accounts (ESA) for students with disabilities. This is an excellent program that removes financial barriers and allows parents to find the best school fit for their child. Unfortunately, the program is underfunded, and not enough children qualify. http://www.ncseaa.edu/ESA.htm
I am committed to giving every parent the opportunity to make their school choice available. Millions of North Carolinians pay taxes in order to educate the next generation. The money is allocated for each child and should follow the child wherever they go to school. The colloquial term for this is backpack funding (the money allocated for the child stays with the child). I would like this program greatly expanded for all North Carolinian children. The following modifications should occur:
- All children should be eligible
- Permit any unspent funds for low- and middle-income students to be deposited in a 529 savings account to offset the cost of postsecondary education and training
- Funding should be appropriated directly from its source on a weighted-student-funding basis.
- The annual capital funding fee ($750 per year) should be included in the student’s allotment.
This would determine the annual per student allocation. Children attending public or charter schools should be allocated the funds based on the percentage of school days the child was enrolled at the school.
9. When it comes to teacher pay, North Carolina is one of the lowest-paying states in the nation. Schools across the state are facing shortages of educators, support staff, and other key personnel. Do you support raising teacher pay to at least the national average? What else can the General Assembly do to improve working conditions for teachers and make the teaching profession more attractive to potential future educators?
Some people think all states should pay at least the national average. Those people should learn what an average is. In NC we must pay the market rate for the area. This is whatever salary, benefits and conditions are required to fill the need.
10. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling this spring that overturned Roe v. Wade. The legal cutoff for abortion in North Carolina is now 20 weeks. Do you believe the 20-week cutoff is too restrictive, not restrictive enough, or just right? As a state lawmaker, would you support legislation that further limits or prohibits abortion in North Carolina, or punishes/criminalizes abortion providers or patients?
For Libertarians abortion is a complex issue because the rights of the mother conflict with the rights of the unborn. That is why Libertarians don’t have a consensus on the issue. We don’t have a consensus, but we are each people with our own minds. This is what I believe: Every abortion is a tragedy because it is the loss of a child. Abortion is far too frequent. We need to make adoption easier, more flexible, and more available for mothers. There is no need for saline or digoxin abortions, because no child who can live independently of the mother should ever be aborted. A small subset of abortions happen for medical reasons or rape and for that reason, early abortions need to be legal and safe unregulated up to 24 weeks. If you are really pro-choice, then you will do everything possible to help a mother keep her child. Many of these mothers would choose life if circumstances permit, and the abortion epidemic is a societal failure, not a solution.
11. Should North Carolina expand Medicaid? Where do you stand on increasing the number of slots for the Innovations Waiver for special needs individuals?
First, Medicaid has a predatory loan aspect to it that many people seem to be unaware of. Currently in North Carolina if a Medicaid beneficiary who is 55+ has hospital care, prescription drugs or personal care services then Medicaid keeps track of their expenses and attempts to recover the expenses as a sixth-class creditor on their estate. That means the government will recover the expenses before family members are permitted to inherit property. The law is NC General Statute 108a 70.5.
Currently in North Carolina this has not impacted many people since traditional Medicaid has an asset test that makes recovery unlikely, however states that have expanded Medicaid have taken many family homes. An explanation on how this is happening in Massachusetts can be found in Rachel Corbett’s Atlantic article, Medicaid’s Dark Secret.
So, for people 55 and older, Medicaid is not free health insurance, it is a loan and the government plans to collect on that loan. This has been ignored by many politicians, and until Medicaid Recovery is understood by people, it is disingenuous to even discuss an expansion.
Second, families purchasing health insurance on the government exchange that make 100%-138% the federal poverty limit are eligible for a huge subsidy from the federal government. This will typically pay about 97% of a silver plan. If we expand Medicaid in NC then these families will lose the option for this subsidy, since they would now qualify for Medicaid. “If you qualify for Medicaid, you aren’t eligible for savings on Marketplace insurance. You’d have to pay full price for a plan.”
Therefore, any honest discussion of Medicaid expansion must include a discussion about the thousands of people who will have to leave their 97% subsidy in Washington D.C. and instead be expected to use their equity as collateral for the loan they are accruing. I am very concerned about the impact the Medicaid expansion will have on these people, and even more concerned that it is not being discussed.
I understand why people are upset about health care costs. At anytime someone can get ill, go to the hospital, be admitted, and have no idea how much they will be billed. Hospitals bill ridicules amounts of money for services without telling you ahead of time what the cost will be. Then if you don’t pay, your credit can be destroyed. This should be illegal and no one should ever have to pay a bill where the price was not previously agreed upon.
Has this ever happened to you when you go to purchase eye glasses, get an eye exam, or go to the dentist? When I use these services, I am told the prices ahead of time, and often given multiple options. If I don’t like the price I can go to another provider, and overall, it is possible to find reasonable prices. There are a lot of health-care providers that also will give me the costs upfront and have reasonable fees for service. The difference is these services have a functional market and hospitals do not.
To create a functional market in North Carolina, we need to: require all health providers that receive public money (ex. Medicaid) have price transparency, end Certificate of Need (CON) laws, permit association health plans, reciprocate professional licensing, and remove barriers to telehealth and direct primary care. There is a lot that we can do to bring costs down for everyone, so going to the hospital will have as much transparency as going to the eye doctor.
12. Do you support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws? Do you support full legalization? Please explain your position.
I support full legalization of marijuana. When someone possesses or consensually ingests a plant they have harmed no one other than themselves.
13. Do you support strengthening gun safety regulations such as expanding background checks, banning bump stocks, and raising the age to buy or otherwise regulating the sales of assault-style weapons? Please explain.
I support NC becoming a constitutional carry state.
14. Are there any issues this questionnaire has not addressed that you would like to address?
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