Name as it appears on the ballot: Renee Price
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: www.reneeprice4nc.com
Occupation & employer: Elected Official, Orange County
Years lived in North Carolina: 31
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?
Since early in my career, I actively have engaged in building and empowering communities, particularly among BIPOC and marginalized children and adults living in urban and rural communities. I have worked in nonprofit organizations as well as government agencies engaging in housing and neighborhood revitalization, environmental justice, small family farms, farmworker rights, sustainable forestry among minority landowners, rural development, and natural resource conservation. Being a county commissioner for the past ten years has given me the opportunity to advocate for criminal justice reform, sound basic education, affordable housing, climate change mitigation, universal broadband, economic development, reliable transit, and diversity and inclusion.
For me, determining the biggest accomplishments is difficult because my career accomplishments involve people and all people are significant, and whatever we do together to make change is significant. Among my accomplishments is my involvement in the effort to raise the age of juvenile jurisdiction in North Carolina to 18. Another is working with community members to save an historically Black school and transforming it into a community center for all people. A third accomplishment was preserving and revitalizing an inner-city neighborhood by assisting with homeownership for moderate income households and assuring municipal investment in the neighborhood.
Personally, I was very humbled to receive the M.H. Brock Outstanding County Commissioner Award in 2020 from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, and currently serve as Co-Chair of the Legislative Goals Committee. Within the National Association of Counties, I have served as Chair of the Community, Economic & Workforce Development Policy Steering Committee, and now serve as Chair of the Arts and Culture Commission. Certainly, being selected by me peers to Chair the Orange County Board of Commissioners is an honor and a career accomplishment.
These experiences will guide me in representing the people of District 50 and the people of North Carolina effectively.
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 Right to Vote and the Right to Representation
Our foremothers and forefathers fought, bled, and died in the valiant effort to claim the right to vote for themselves and for us. In no way can we let their efforts be in vain.
Members of the NCGA should enact legislation that encourages voting by all eligible voters, facilitates voter registration, and assures access to the ballot by all people. We need to thwart all attempts at voter intimidation and voter suppression. In addition, legislative district maps should be determined by an independent commission or by some process that will allow voters the option to elect persons who can represent them based on shared values and vision.
As the District 50 in the NC House of Representatives, I will rise up, speak out, and, as the late John Lewis said, “get in good trouble” to protect and assure our right to vote and our right for representation.
Infrastructure—i.e., Broadband, Affordable Housing, Transit
In recent years, broadband and internet access have become priority issues across rural and urban America. The COVID19 pandemic has accentuated the need to expand our digital highway to all households and businesses. Broadband is now essential for schoolwork, employment, commerce, tele-health, and access to social services.
Industries—whether farming, manufacturing, or clean energy—require reliable transportation networks to move products and parts. For movement of people to and from home, school and work, governments will need to invest in multi-modal by-ways, bus rapid transit, commuter rail, van services in rural areas, last-mile transport and the like is needed.
We also must assure housing for families of all income brackets, particularly for our workforce. Safe, decent and affordable housing for all is a major component of a vibrant community.
I believe the NCGA should enact legislation and policies that will facilitate the installation of reliable and robust broadband by local governments. In addition, the State, in partnership with the federal and local governments, should fund multimodal transportation networks. As for affordable housing, State funds should be appropriated to assist in public private partnerships at the local level to defray housing costs and promote homeownership, cooperatives, as well as rentals for our workforce and people on limited incomes.
A Sound Basic Education from PreK to Community College
In 1997, the North Carolina Supreme Court in the Leandro case determined that every child is entitled to a sound basic education. Our young people need a sound basic education in order to thrive in the multi-dimensional 21st century society—whether they choose a career in biotechnology or in the creative arts. The Leandro case is evidence that we need to take critical steps to improve our learning environments.
The NCGA needs to allocate much more of the state budget to public education across North Carolina to eliminate the achievement gaps among our students and address the disparities. Investing in early childcare services and early learning—for children of families from all socioeconomic—is critical. Community colleges also play a critical role in transforming young lives, advancing careers and spurring economic development; therefore, the State should continue and increase its investment in the NC Community College System.
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?
At the local level is where the rubber meets the road. Elected officials as well as departmental staff of cities, towns and counties know their communities. They interact with the people and the issues on a daily basis, and therefore should be able to exert control over local greenhouse gas emissions, criminal justice reforms and police oversight, and development-regulating ordinances.
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 support raising the minimum wage in North Carolina to at least $15 per hour. As the cost of living increases, so should the minimum wage. We should focus on a living 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?
Addressing the affordability crisis will need to involve several measures, a comprehensive approach. One measure to alleviate the crisis would be to reform our tax system or structure. An increase in economic development, thus a commercial or industrial tax base, can alleviate the tax burden on homeowners. In addition, the NCGA should require large corporations and households in the very high-income brackets to pay their fair share.
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, the state government has an obligation to prevent the impacts of climate change, since the health and wellbeing of humans and the entire ecosystem are at risk. I support the Paris Agreement and the Green New Deal. Three policies I support include:
1. Reducing carbon emissions
2. Investing in alternative clean energy such as solar and wind
3. Reducing the use of plastics, particularly single-use plastics.
7. Would you support an independent process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts?
Yes, I would support an independent process that would draw legislative and congressional districts so that the people may choose their representatives as opposed to politicians choosing their constituents. I am a strong proponent of the right to vote and the right to representation.
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?
Absolutely. The NCGA has a constitutional obligation to comply with the NC Supreme Court order in the Leandro case and to fully fund public schools to give every child in North Carolina a sound basic education. Assuring a sound basic education for our children is one of my priority issues.
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 would repudiate and reject legislation that limits of prohibits abortion or criminalizes abortion providers or patients. I support a woman’s right to choose and to be in control of her own body and her own health.
10. Should North Carolina expand Medicaid? Where do you stand on increasing the number of slots for the Innovations Waiver for special needs individuals?
Yes, North Carolina needs to expand Medicaid. We are missing out on resources and opportunities to provide much-needed health and wellness services to our constituents. I also believe that the number of slots for the Innovations Waiver for special needs individuals needs to be increased—again, so that our family members and friends receive the services they need to thrive. Health care is a basic human right.
11. Do you support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws? Do you support full legalization? Please explain your position.
Yes, I support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws and the full legalization of marijuana. The laws have been based on myth and racism. As with any substance, including food, risks exist in over consumption or misuse. Nevertheless, marijuana is well known to have beneficial effects, such as alleviating pain and stress.
12. Are there any issues this questionnaire has not addressed that you would like to address?
The criminal justice system throughout North Carolina and the United States is in dire need of reform. Many of our laws, policies and procedures are founded on racial discrimination, gender prejudice, and punishment for poverty.
Governor Cooper appointed the Task Force for Racial Equity and Criminal Justice (TREC) to focus on addressing existing policies and procedures that disproportionately affect communities of color, and to develop solutions to ensure racial equity in our criminal justice system. The TREC report includes 125 recommendations for corrective action which need to be analyzed, evaluated and, where appropriate, implemented.
The NCGA should seek and support policies and processes such as:
• establishing pretrial release programs;
• advocating for bail reform and elimination of cash bail;
• keeping mental health out of our jails, prisons, and detention centers; and
• mentoring programs for justice-involved youth.
Men and women of color and people of low wealth are disproportionately suspected, arrested, charged, and incarcerated. Innocent BIPOC children, teenagers and adults are being shot and killed. I believe that stakeholders, community members and elected officials should collaborate to help address our personal biases and work to assure justice in our criminal justice system.