Name as it appears on the ballot: Dee Watson
Party affiliation: Libertarian
Campaign website: electdeewatson.org
Occupation & employer: Provonix/Statistical Programmer
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 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 11)
- Criminal Justice reform (see question 8)
- Health Care reform (see question 13)
3. Do you believe the Republican tax cuts over the last decade have been effective in stimulating the state’s economy? If given the choice, are there any tax cuts you would rescind or any new taxes you would enact? If so, what would you put the additional revenue toward?
I would not create any additional taxes.
4. North Carolina’s minimum wage is among the lowest in the country. Do you support raising the minimum wage, and if so by how much? If not, what other initiatives would you take to support low-income families in North Carolina?
We need to decrease barriers into career entry by reducing occupational licensing barriers, and increasing accessibility to internships and trade apprenticeships. Just like the hot dog vendor Steve Pruner,so many people could make a better living for themselves if these barriers were removed.
I understand that we want to improve the lives of working people, but raising the minimum wage has the unintended consequence of harming the people that it was intended to help. Recently many McDonalds employees were automated out of existence due to wage increases. The great libertarian Thomas Sowell has studied this in detail.
5. Housing affordability is rapidly becoming an issue in the major metros like Charlotte and Raleigh and pushing low-income families further from their jobs. What policies would you support to ensure North Carolinians can live near where they work?
Unfortunately, some neighborhoods work with local governments to create restrictive zoning laws that only permit single family housing on lots. This drives up housing prices, and for many hard-working families, housing becomes unaffordable. Wherever single-family units are permitted, duplexes, triplexes, and accessory dwelling units should also be permitted by right. This will increase the supply of affordable housing in higher density areas.
6. Scientists say the increased threat of hurricanes and the resulting coastal devastation is only expected to worsen in the coming years due to climate change. Please state three specific policies you support to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard the environment in North Carolina.
In NC gasoline has a high tax that is used to fund the NC transportation infrastructure. I would support taxing all non-renewable energy in a more equitable way.
I am more concerned about the way Duke Power polluted with coal ash and Chemours polluted the Cape Fear river with Gen-X, while in both cases very little restitution was made to those impacted. When a large company pollutes, they need to be held accountable and this did not happen. This is of particular importance with nuclear power plants. If a company can not afford to make restitution then they need to be put out of business.
In the 1950’s the shores of NC were devastated by Hazel, Connie, Ione and Helene. Since then there have only been 4 category 3 hurricanes that hit NC, so this seems like an incredibly speculative assertation.
7. Do you believe assault weapons should be commercially available in North Carolina? Do you support universal background checks for all gun purchases? What policies do you support to address gun violence?
Several months before Nikolas Cruz killed so many in the Parkland shooting, he went into the Coconut Creek Pawn to purchase a weapon. He would have passed any background check and was legally allowed to purchase a fire arm, but the owner refused to sell to him, but not because of any government law, but his own store policy. The best way to keep guns out of the hands of violent people is voluntary common sense from people. If gun shop owners want to run a background check so they feel more comfortable selling weapons then that is absolutely their right, but they should never be forced to by the government.
I am concerned that many people will be red flagged and unable to purchase a weapon because they have voluntarily tried to improve themselves via psychiatric services. Many veterans are working through PTSD, but are still some of the most capable people.
8. Do you support the Black Lives Matter Movement? What steps would you take to address racial equity in North Carolina?
Many communities work hand in hand with law enforcement to create a safe low crime environment for all, however that is not the situation everywhere, and those places must self-reflect on what has caused the disharmonious environment. Each community must create an environment with transparency, accountability, compassion and equity.
The mission of the police is to serve and protect, not raise revenue. Any department where “productivity” is measured by tickets issued, fines, or arrests will incentivize officers to exact a painful toll on the most vulnerable populations. Using police to generate revenue creates distrust in a community. Any ticket issued for a fixable offense (broken headlight, property code violation etc.) should not be levied if the offense is fixed within 21 days. Civil asset forfeiture needs to end in North Carolina, and police departments are getting around the NC law by utilizing the Federal equitable sharing program. We impose restrictions in NC on equitable sharing. If a person is not found guilty of a crime then their goods need to be returned in a timely fashion.
Community policing that involves police officers educating the public on standard procedures for everyone to follow, de-escalates potentially difficult situations and builds trust in a community. When citizens feel a confrontation with police involved questionable actions, access to body camera footage and investigation needs to occur with transparency and civilian oversite. If a police officer has violated policy and procedures then retraining or termination should occur. Police work is incredibly stressful and dangerous and, like any skilled profession, many people will not be able to meet the high standards that are required.
Law enforcement is currently asked to arrest citizens for many victimless “crimes.” These include drug use, consensual adult prostitution, vagrancy, and failure to meet licensing criteria (e.g. distributing homemade food). These laws were primarily enacted to protect people from their own unwise behavior, however putting people in jail for these things has caused far more harm. As a society we need to accept that individuals are responsible for their own high-risk behavior and we should not have the police protect us from ourselves. These victimless crimes are disproportionately applied to African-American and Hispanic populations who have no evidence of higher rates of drug use, but are arrested, convicted and sentenced at much greater rates than their white counterparts. This is one of the most impactful acts of systemic racism in our country and any benefit of criminalizing these acts is far outweighed by the destructive force of these laws.
North Carolina is one of the 48 states where no-knock raids are legal. We need to outlaw no-knock raids. As Kenneth Walker has shown, a no-knock raid puts police in a situation where they can legally be shot. No-knock raids are inherently dangerous for all people involved and we need to make them illegal in North Carolina.
The doctrine of qualified immunity is judicial overreach that protects public employees from criminal prosecution. We need to outlaw qualified immunity in North Carolina and hold public employees and politicians to the same standards that others are held to. The killing of Daniel Shaver was one of the most sadistic things I have ever seen. Due to qualified immunity the killer avoided jail, and then at the age of 28 received a tax-free government pension worth $31,000 per year for life. Anyone with a reservation about ending qualified immunity should watch the video of the killing of Daniel Shaver.
9. One of BLM’s key demands is police accountability, however, municipalities have struggled to enact oversight boards with teeth as police records are safeguarded by state statute. Would you support bills that would make public certain police records, such as internal investigations after use of force incidents, body camera footage, and personnel files?
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.
10. The battle over gerrymandering has stalled out in the courts. What do you believe needs to happen with the state’s district maps? 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: Democrats (36%), Unaffiliated (33%), Republicans (30%), Libertarians (1%), Green (<1%) and Constitution (<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.
11. Republicans boast to have increased school funding during their tenure controlling the legislature. Do you believe the state’s public schools are adequately funded? If not, would you support a tax increase to pay for it?
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.
12. Research suggests the state’s charter school system is increasing segregation in the schools. Do you support the expansion of charter schools? Why or why not?
I have 3 children, and all of them have attended both charter and government run schools. The charter schools that they attended had more racial diversity than the WCPSS schools they attended, so I am not sure that data applies to Wake County.
I absolutely support the expansion of Charter Schools; they provide excellent diversity for parents looking for the best fit for their child. Some of my children attend Longleaf School of the Arts, which has a very high proportion of LGBTQ children. Many of these children, particularly those that are transgender, were bullied in WCPSS schools. I am so thankful there is a charter school in the area that is sensitive to this community and allowed these children to escape from a toxic environment where they were exposed to so much bigotry.
13. More than 3,000 North Carolinians have died from COVID-10 since the onset of the pandemic and thousands more left with crippling medical debt. Do you believe the state needs to invest in an expansion of Medicaid? How would you address healthcare affordability for North Carolinians?
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.
14. The state’s Voter ID law, which has been criticized as targeted to disenfranchise African American voters, is temporarily blocked by the court. After the election, would you support repealing this law? Why or why not?
I am far more concerned about how voter rights are stripped from many people convicted of victimless crimes. This has a disproportionate impact on the African American community, and does a lot more to disenfranchise them than Voter ID laws. People who have served their time should have all voting rights restored as soon as they are released from prison.
I would not support the repeal of the law, but any evidence of voter suppression, or of disenfranchised voters, should be brought forth in a transparent way, so that we can address any issues. I want all people to have equal access to voting.
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?
I am completely opposed to the death penalty. The Innocence Project has shown us that a large number of people on death row are innocent. Low income people are much more likely to be given the death sentence, indicating the death penalty has more to do with resources and less with justice. I truly believe the death penalty is amoral, but with an average cost of over $600,000 in extra litigation it also does not make fiscal sense.
16. Are there any other issues you would like to address that have not been covered by this questionnaire?
Two years ago, the same Republican and Democrat ran for this seat, and the Democrat won by 35 points. I know that many people hesitate to vote for a third party, but if you are libertarian leaning and want a society that puts decision making back in the hands of individuals instead of having a one size fits all government approach then please consider voting for me.
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