Name as it appears on the ballot: Frank (Jeremiah) Pierce
Party affiliation: Democrat
Occupation/profession: WCPSS 8th Grade ELA Teacher / Small Business Owner Landscape Company NRL 36
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 would be the best representative for District 66 because of my life and work experiences. I know what it means to provide for a family, to start a business and make a payroll, to teach in our public schools and see firsthand their needs, and most importantly, to be an empathetic person who genuinely cares about helping all people live the American dream. My three biggest accomplishments other than my family, starting a small business, and teaching middle school students would be the following: I am a great volunteer and volunteer recruiter. My volunteer efforts have focused on poor children. I have managed toy drives that assured every child in selected schools in one of the poorest counties in NC would have a toy for Christmas. I have worked with the NC Foundation for Public School Children to make sure poor kids in Wake County had book bags and school supplies. I participate in every effort to tackle food insecurity, inclusion of special need kids, and fundraisers for kids who need special medical care. I have also been working with Wyatt Foundation which has welcoming houses for refugees. This year alone helped secure 10k in donations to those refugees as well as donated over 100 hours of moving furniture for the organization. I am a vocal advocate for those who need government to work for them. I initiate ideas with leaders, organize public support, and convince politicians to enact new laws or policies. I do not sit on the sidelines. I am proud of my advocacy in Wake County to improve teacher pay, minimum pay for our support staff, and affordable housing for working men and women. As a white man who grew up in an integrated neighborhood in Raleigh, I know that good race relations start with knowledge, interaction, and respect. I teach my children, my students, and my friends that our community is stronger if we work together in service to all rather than ourselves. If we want to change our nation, we must change our community. I am proud of the accomplishments I have made in promoting inclusion, fairness, and equity.
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 first most pressing issue will be full funding of the constitutional mandate for our public schools as litigated through the Leandro case. The state has the money to provide full funding for the first and maybe second year. This will give us time to create a revenue stream to assure our schools are performing for all children for a lifetime. The second issue is for NC to do their part for climate control. We need a comprehensive piece of legislation with specific timelines to reduce our carbon footprint, clean up our land, water, and air, and educate the next generation to maintain the healthiest environment. The third issue is economic development in our poorest neighborhoods and our rural areas. First, we need legislation with full funding to build the infrastructure needed for economic development. That would include completing access to broadband, great public schools and community colleges that are accessible as well as college affordability, good roads and bridges, and incentives for start-up companies in these areas.
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?
The state should be an enabler to communities who have better ideas and resources when it comes to tackling the issues around climate, criminal justice reform, and quality of life issues like regulating development. One size does not fit all in a state as diverse as ours. The state should only intervene when there is abuse, discrimination, or malfeasance. Overall, we need to stop handcuffing our local government with the overreaching behavior this current legislature has exhibited.
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?
I would definitely support raising the minimum wage in NC to $15. We did it for state workers Why are those in the private sector less valued? The truth is that the current lack of workers is creating the climate for that bold action. I would also support increasing the minimum by at least 2% on an annual basis so we do not create this situation again.
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?
The state needs a master plan for affordable housing that incorporates federal laws and local responsibilities. We need to set a maximum percentage that any NC worker should pay on rent and provide housing supplements. We need to explore public-private partnerships with developers to assure affordable housing is being built. Working with local municipalities, we need to look at best practices for affordable housing including rent control and zoning reform.
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, and NC got a weak start, but we need to go back to the drawing board. Three specific policies I would support are the following: (a.) a law that addresses environmental justice reparations for communities that have been harmed by environmental disasters, (b.) third party power projects that compete against Duke Energy, (c.) state government taking the lead on solar and wind energy powered buildings and electrical vehicles through a phase-in with new acquisition.
7. Would you support an independent process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts?
Absolutely, I am a firm believer that “gerrymandering” is undermining our democracy. With advanced technology, politicians have abused the redistricting process, and it is time to have an independent commission.
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, and it is time to stop dragging their feet. It is affordable, and the NC Supreme Court has every right to order them to comply.
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?
I believe every woman has right to control her body. I would support legislation that enacts those reproductive rights without restrictions, punishments, or any government intrusion.
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 the expansion of Medicaid as provided in the Affordable Care Act. Republicans have cost our state millions of dollars, jobs, and rural medical care. It is time to end their stupidity. Yes, I would support increasing the number of Innovations Waivers for special needs North Carolinians. They already meet strict criteria so it is inhumane to deny services. Obviously, it is about cost control, but when it comes to the livelihood of a person, I would rather try to find the funds.
11. Do you support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws? Do you support full legalization? Please explain your position.
North Carolina does not need to wait any longer for full legalization of marijuana. We know the medical benefits. We know the experiences of other states in order to address any restrictions. We know that the public supports this in great numbers. I think NC is ready.
12. Are there any issues this questionnaire has not addressed that you would like to address?
Thank you for the opportunity to share my beliefs. I worry that Democrats are being seen as elitists by too many working men and women who I know. The truth is that Democrats are the only ones that are willing to fight for issues important to them. We have a message and messenger problem. I want to be a voice for working men and women, blue collar workers. Many live in this newly drawn district. They deserve a representative who they trust to be their advocate and their voice in the General Assembly. Democrats believe in representation. This election will determine if we mean it.