Name as it appears on the ballot: Patrick Buffkin
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: www.patrickfornc.com
Occupation & employer: Member of the Raleigh City Council & utilities attorney at Buffkin Law Office
Years lived in North Carolina: 25
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 grew up in North Carolina and am a product of our public schools and universities, and have represented North Raleigh on the City Council for 2.5 years, giving me a deep connection to our community and critical insights into their values and concerns. In my time on City Council, I’ve garnered invaluable experience in making the difficult decisions that are involved in governing. My biggest career accomplishments include leading the City Council’s effort to pass a $80 million affordable housing bond in 2020, holding utilities like Duke Energy accountable to meet their obligations to increase use of renewable energy when I was a state regulator, and helping to make Raleigh a more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive 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?
1) We need to better fund our public schools and provide our students with more opportunities to learn and succeed. It will be my priority on day one to raise our state’s average teacher pay above the national average and fund low wealth schools to meet the mandate of the Leandro decision and ensure every North Carolinian student receives the sound education they deserve.
2) North Carolina’s rapid growth means we need to invest in affordable housing. North Carolina should increase investments in the housing trust fund to provide low-interest loans and grants to nonprofits to construct affordable housing. The state should also expand tax credit programs to decrease housing costs for low-income families and individuals. The state should also provide more tools to cities to manage growth in their local communities.
3) The state also needs to play a bigger role in protecting our climate for future generations. As our cities continue to grow, we must plan to make our state more sustainable by making smart investments in infrastructure, public transit, and city planning that reduce our impact on the climate and make our communities more livable.
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?
Serving on the Raleigh City Council has impressed upon me the need for city governments to have more autonomy to control their own destiny and to make decisions that best serve their unique circumstances. Republicans in the General Assembly should not be able to dictate what is best for Raleigh residents or to control local communities. Cities should be able to take the initiative to combat climate change, conduct oversight of their own public safety, and provide affordable housing.
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, we should raise the minimum wage to $15/hour with an index to inflation and ensure that every working North Carolinian can be financially secure and paid a fair wage. Our state understands the value of hard work and we should reflect our values by paying workers a fair wage.
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?
On the Raleigh City Council, I’ve taken steps to alleviate the growing pressure housing costs place on families by passing an $80 million affordable housing bond and planning for smart development for the city’s future. At the state level, we must continue these efforts by adding dollars to the housing trust fund and expanding tax credits that make housing more affordable for low-income and middle-class families. We also should make reforms to our zoning laws to make it easier to build more types of housing, which will provide more opportunities for people to own homes, build wealth, and raise their families.
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.
North Carolina cannot afford to sit idly while the impacts of climate change ravage our state in the form of hurricanes, floods, and droughts. North Carolina needs to make investments in our local communities to help them be more resilient to the impacts of climate change today while also planning and working toward a future that is less reliant on fossil fuels. To make our communities more resilient we should fund infrastructure like stormwater projects to control flooding. To plan for our future we should be investing in public transportation projects to reduce traffic congestion and our reliance on fossil fuels, continuing the move to close old, dirty coal plants, and redoubling our efforts to incorporate clean energy resources into our electric grid. Governor Cooper has set out an ambitious agenda to combat climate change and I will be there to support him in this effort.
7. Would you support an independent process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts?
Yes, I support an independent redistricting commission that is enshrined in our State Constitution to bring an end to the era of partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina.
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, the General Assembly must comply with the constitutional requirement to provide a sound basic education as interpreted by our state courts. The failure of the General Assembly to adequately address teacher shortages and crumbling facilities has led to worse outcomes for our students. Every student in our state deserves a quality education regardless of race, socio-economic status, or zip code.
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?
No – our state should stand firm against any proposed laws that encroach on reproductive rights. Republican attacks on reproductive rights in other Southern states cannot be replicated in North Carolina.
10. Should North Carolina expand Medicaid? Where do you stand on increasing the number of slots for the Innovations Waiver for special needs individuals?
North Carolina is one of a few remaining states to not approve Medicaid expansion. Republicans have refused federal dollars that would provide quality healthcare for 600,000 North Carolinians, spur economic growth, and inject a needed boost to our rural communities. The State should approve the Medicaid expansion with minimal eligibility requirements to streamline the process for beneficiaries and get much-needed care to our state’s residents. While expanding Medicaid and making it easier for working people to get health care coverage, the state should also be looking for opportunities to help individuals with special needs through programs like the Innovations Waiver.
11. Do you support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws? Do you support full legalization? Please explain your position.
North Carolinians should not face punishment for using cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes. Individuals with chronic ailments should have the right to consult with their healthcare provider and use cannabis to relieve their symptoms and live a full life. Our law enforcement officers and judicial system should not have to waste time and taxpayer money going after people for using cannabis responsibly.