Name as it appears on the ballot: Mike Woodard
Party affiliation: Democratic
Campaign website: mikewoodard.com
Occupation & employer: Administrator, Duke University
What in your background qualifies you to represent the people of North Carolina effectively?
I have been actively involved in community and state organizations for more than 30 years, which has given me a broad and deep understanding of the opportunities and challenges that lie before us. In addition, I served on the Durham City Council for seven years before being elected to the General Assembly. My work has helped me develop strong listening and problem-solving skills.
My service in the Senate has now placed me as the tenth most senior member. This time has given me a strong knowledge of state government and helped me develop a wide array of contacts in the private and public sectors. I have used my skills and experience to be an effective legislator.
What would you cite as your three biggest career accomplishments?
I’d like to focus on the past biennium, during which I am particularly proud of my work as co-chair of the Life Sciences Caucus, which worked on a number of good pieces of legislation.
I am also proud that I was a sponsor on substantial legislation that were all bi-partisan, bicameral, and passed overwhelmingly. Three of these bills were:
S310-Electric Co-Op Rural Broadband Services. Allows electric membership co-ops to provide telecommunications and broadband services.
S561-Education/Job Readiness in Prisons. Provides greater access to community college classes and job readiness for incarcerated individuals.
H873-ADU Sewer Permit. Allows more cost-effective building of accessory dwelling units, providing both more opportunities for home builders and for affordable housing.
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?
Providing a first-class system of public education, from pre-K through post-secondary
Raise teacher and principal compensation to the national average
Protect and expand use of teachers’ assistants
Provide more nurses and healthcare resources
Enhance racial equity efforts
Accessible, affordable healthcare for all North Carolinians
Implement Medicaid Transformation
Enhance rural healthcare, especially medical specialties
Enhance behavioral health
A strong economy that works in every part of the state
Rebuild and expand infrastructure
Expand opportunities for work
Economic development projects
Training, retraining, and apprenticeship projects
“Ban the Box” and other programs to hire formerly incarcerated people
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?
No. Since 2013, two-thirds of the tax breaks have gone to those with annual incomes of over $250,000. Tax rates for large multi-state corporations were lowered to 2.5 percent, less than half the rate for average individual taxpayers and down from 6.9 percent. These actions have resulted in a loss of $3.6 billion annually in state revenue.
Additionally, the General Assembly eliminated the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit for one million working families earning low wages.
The data show that the enacted tax breaks have not improved North Carolina’s economic performance which has remained at or below that of our southeast neighbors.
I will work to:
-reinstate the Earned Income Tax Credit;
-raise the corporate tax rate to five percent, still below the previous 6.9 percent;
-eliminate corporate tax loopholes, such as tax credits that are applied against the franchise tax liability; and
-implement mandatory combined reporting, under which corporations that operate in multiple jurisdictions can’t use separate accounting to avoid paying taxes.
These actions will cover the expected shortfall in state revenues without touching reserves or savings.
I would favor directing new revenues to increasing early childhood education, expanding job training programs, improving all forms of infrastructure, and supporting small businesses.
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?
I support raising the minimum wage and the goals of the “Fight for $15” movement.
As for a specific amount, I have read recent studies that suggest the ideal minimum wage should be set by pegging a local minimum to a percentage of the local median wage. This is an idea worth exploring, as it addresses communities like Raleigh and Charlotte, where a minimum of $15 per hour is still not providing a living wage.
Additionally, this method would be reasonable for the rural communities in North Carolina where an artificially high minimum would be detrimental to the local economy.
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?
-Continued, and increased when possible, funding for the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency.
-Working with local governments to eliminate statutory and legal obstacles to implementing affordable housing initiatives. One example of this is my work this summer on H873-ADU Sewer Permit, a new law that removed unnecessary sewer regulations on accessory dwelling units, which would increase the cost of units around $10,000.
-Increased funding for mass transit that moves workers, especially lower-wealth individuals, between home and work more easily.
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.
-Enact permanent moratorium on offshore drilling.
-Develop and implement energy policies that accelerate retirement of uneconomic coal assets; advance cleaner, more sustainable options; modernize the grid; and develop economic tools such as performance-based mechanisms, multi-year rate planning, and revenue decoupling.
-Implement policies that will lead to 80,000 zero-emissions vehicles on North Carolina’s roads by 2025.
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?
Permit to Purchase, requiring people to obtain a permit, contingent on passing a background check. States that have implemented PTP for handguns have seen drops in homicide and suicide rates ranging from 14 to 40 percent, with little “substitution effect,” meaning criminals didn’t switch to other weapons when they failed to obtain handguns.
Deny guns to perpetrators of domestic violence
Gun violence restraining orders (“red flag” laws)
End gun show loopholes
Ban bump stocks, AR-15s and other military-style weapons
Repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. This 2005 law gave broad immunity to gun manufacturers and dealers from liability litigation. In other industries, the threat of litigation has produced incentives for manufacturers to improve product safety. Lawsuits that targeted gun shows and wholesalers engaged in facilitating illegal straw purchases, resulting in substantial reductions of illegal weapons where the lawsuits were filed.
Do you support the Black Lives Matter Movement? What steps would you take to address racial equity in North Carolina?
Black Lives Matter is not a term of confrontation or an exclusionary demand. It is a recognition that people who are Black are twice as likely to be killed by a law enforcement officer compared to a White people. It is further an aspirational call to address the systemic racism present in public safety, education, healthcare, and economic opportunity.
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?
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?
I have sponsored legislation previously to create an independent redistricting commission and I will sponsor such a bill again in the upcoming long session.
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?
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?
The increase of charter schools has led to more segregation of students along racial and socioeconomic lines. Further, charters divert much-needed funds from school districts who must continue to provide transportation, free and reduced meals, and costly programs for special needs students.
Perhaps most damning for charter schools is that their academic performance is declining, with only 68 percent of students meeting or exceeding expected growth standards, a five percent drop in just two years.
Simply put, charter schools are proving to be a poor investment of tax dollars.
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?
Expand Medicaid: Expansion of Medicaid will cover nearly 14,000 residents in District 22. It will bring 5400 new jobs and $1.1 billion in new economic impact. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it will have a huge economic impact on the region. And it will provide stability to our hospitals, community health centers, and medical practices.
Review Scope of Practice for Medical Professionals: The General Assembly and Administration should continue to carefully study expanding the scope of practice for various medical professionals: nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, technicians. The dearth of medical specialists, especially in rural counties, makes healthcare less accessible and more costly.
Restructuring Graduate Medical Education: I served on a legislative task force that studied how we might restructure graduate medical education in our state medical schools (and maybe private medical schools) in an effort to train more diverse professionals and establish them in a wider range of communities. As with scope of practice, increased availability of professionals makes care less expensive.
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?
Because voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 requiring an ID to vote, the Legislature must enact such a law. In a November 2018 special session following this vote, I co-authored S822, a relatively reasonable approach to implementing voter ID. Reluctantly, I would continue to support the provisions of that bill.
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?
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