Name as it appears on the ballot: Nate Blanton

Age: 43

Party affiliation: Democratic

Campaign website: 

Occupation & employer: Radiation Protection Senior Scientist, Duke Energy

Years lived in North Carolina: 43

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’ve spent my whole life working in the utility industry, first in the US Navy, and now at Sharon Harris Nuclear Plant. I understand climate, energy, pollution better than most of the folks making the laws about it in Raleigh. Climate change is the #1 issue for everyone, not just politicians. I’ve also been through the ramshackle education system, that usually doesn’t produce successful people here in NC. I grew up raised by my grandmother because my parents were too strung out to care for me. College wasn’t on my radar, which is how I ended up in the US Navy. I was able to attend NCSU after I was discharged, and was the first member of my family to attend a university, much less graduate.

As for accomplishments, I’m proud of my military career. I was selected for the US Navy’s extremely competitive nuclear power program where I excelled, leaving the Navy after 6 years as 1st Class Petty Officer. After that, getting through NCSU as a non-traditional student, graduating in 2012 with a B.S. in Political Science and minor in Nuclear Engineering. Finally, I’m proud of my work at HNP. Nuclear power is the number one source of carbon free power in the US and I’m proud to help keep that facility operating safely in our community.

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?

Unfortunately, I fear that abortion rights will be back at the state level with our current Supreme Court. Maintaining the ability to let women have the choice about their reproductive choices will be paramount. Second, infrastructure funds will begin to be disbursed to the states from the federal infrastructure bill. Making sure those funds are used to the best method will be a big deal. Last, hopefully, we will see some movement on Medicaid expansion.

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?

I do not support pre-emption legislation in any form, with the exception of civil rights issues.

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?

Yes, but if done properly and tied in some way to cost of living and removed from the legislature, where these sorts of things are simply used as political cudgels. One thing that does need to change immediately however, is the wage to tipped workers. It is ridiculous that $2.13/hr—which was the rate I was paid to bus tables at Chili’s in 1995—is still the base rate for so many of our service industry folks.

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?

Unfortunately, the leading issues driving this is a mix of relocation of folks from outside NC to our state and local zoning regulations. While this causes some issues with my opinion on pre-emption, base regulations should likely be put in place for large urban areas at the least to encourage higher density residential zoning.

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.

Climate change is an issue for everyone in government and industry. We passed a historic climate bill last year, but it only addressed the electrical generation part of the problem. Transportation is the leading carbon emission producing sector at this point, and that was left out. To that end, we should a rapid movement to electrify vehicles in our state. Alternative transport should also be expanded, including dual-use of many of our miles of under-utilized freight lines, like the one that runs through my district from downtown Raleigh to Fayetteville. Further, large point-source carbon fueled components should be encouraged to switch to electric alternatives—think large furnaces and industrial process boilers. Last, to achieve the carbon-neutral electrical generation goals laid out last year, we have to get movement on off-shore wind.

7. Would you support an independent process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts?


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?


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?


10. Should North Carolina expand Medicaid?  Where do you stand on increasing the number of slots for the Innovations Waiver for special needs individuals?

NC should have expanded Medicaid a decade ago. The Innovations Waiver program should be expanded.

11. Do you support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws? Do you support full legalization? Please explain your position.

I support full legalization of cannabis, and further, to decriminalize other drugs in NC. Too many people are prevented from engaging with our economy because of drug use. We may not solve the social issues that addiction causes, but criminalizing these folks simply punishes those around them further. I’ve got firsthand experience with this, as my mother was a life-long drug user who died from crack cocaine use on Christmas Day in 2008. My father likewise has drug problems. I’m not trying to sugar coat or pretend that street drugs are not harmful, but it isn’t made any better by criminalizing this issue.

12. Are there any issues this questionnaire has not addressed that you would like to address? 

Tolls. Tolls are an important issue to me and my district due to the NC-540 project. Tolls are simply an unaffordable tax on too many folks who will have to make a decision to take a less optimal route to work, because of the $60-100 extra a month to use a public highway.