Name as it appears on the ballot: Grier Martin
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: griermartin.com
Occupation & employer: Lawyer
I was born and raised in North Carolina, attended our public schools, and have seen the progress we can make when we invest in education. In my time in the General Assembly I am proud to have helped write budgets that shifted our state to a 21st century transportation system and to have passed legislation focused on easing the burdens of military families. I am also proud to have offered an amendment to the notorious House Bill 2 that would have created statewide protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to have introduced a bill that would have fully repealed House Bill 2.
In the next biennium, our state will have to deal with the lingering health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic losses will result in significant impact on the state’s revenues. At the same time, North Carolina must resume our efforts to bring teacher pay to the national average. One way to do this would be to rescind the tax breaks that the Republican majority gave to the wealthiest North Carolinians. In addition to providing much-needed funds for education, such a move would be a step towards addressing growing income inequality. We should also restore the earned income tax credit (EITC) that was repealed by the Republican majority. This step would stimulate the economy by putting money back in the pockets of working North Carolinians, as would increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15/hour.
These same working North Carolinians in many urban areas are also seeing their housing costs rise. The problem is partly one of the increased expense of owning or renting a home. To address the problem, we must continue to invest in entities like the NC Housing Trust Fund. We must also restore the ability of local governments to work with developers to incentivize building affordable housing. At the same time, we cannot ignore the additional transportation costs that come with moving further from one’s job. Our state must increase its investments in transit. Where appropriate, light rail is part of the solution. In many places increased bus service is another great way of providing affordable transportation.
These transit initiatives will also be part of our state’s environmental focus by reducing carbon emissions. We must also continue to shift our state away from a reliance on fossil fuels for power generation. I was pleased to be very involved in making North Carolina the first southeastern state to adopt a renewable energy portfolio standard (REPS). In the 13 years since, technology has improved and has made cleaner energy more affordable. It is time to take another look at how REPS can move North Carolina in the right direction.
With regard to guns, I have already introduced legislation that would restrict access to assault rifles and require universal background checks and intend to continue to do so.
The past year has been a shameful reminder to North Carolinians that we have failed to achieve racial equity in North Carolina. We can’t continue our current path and to move forward we must convene a statewide look at all the ways racism permeates our institutions and systems. Governor Cooper’s Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice is a very good start, but I want the General Assembly to convene an even broader look at racism beyond just criminal justice. We must find the racism lurking in education, transportation, health care, and every part of our society. Once this is accomplished, the real hard work will begin in actually implementing the recommendations.
I have consistently worked to end the pernicious problem of gerrymandering in North Carolina. I’ve been a primary sponsor and co-sponsor of several bills that would create a non-partisan redistricting commission to draw our state’s legislative and congressional districts. If my party returns to the majority in the House of Representatives, we will finally get this measure passed.
It should not take the unnatural lifespan of the Leandro court case to remind us that K-12 education in North Carolina is under resourced. Part of the solution should involve rescinding the recent tax breaks given to the wealthiest North Carolinians. We must also stop the diversion of public school resources to private schools through vouchers. And, we should halt further expansion of charter schools. Charter schools do play an important part in fostering educational innovation, but we do not need any more than we have in order to fill this role.
North Carolina should have expanded Medicaid years ago and if Democrats are in the majority in the General Assembly next year it will be one of our top priorities.
One of the saddest days of my time in the House was the day we passed a voter suppression package, including Voter ID, that directly targeted the ability of African Americans to cast a vote. I look forward to repealing these shameful provisions.
The death penalty is the ultimate punishment a state can impose. It should not be imposed if it can’t be done without racial bias. That is why I have long supported a moratorium on the death penalty.
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