Name on Ballot: Roy Cooper

Age: 63

Occupation: Current Governor of N.C.

Years lived in N.C.: 63

1. What in your background qualifies you to lead the people of North Carolina effectively? What would you cite as your three biggest career accomplishments? 

As Governor, I orchestrated the repeal of House Bill 2, helped restore our reputation and signed a sweeping anti-discrimination executive order. We have implemented paid parental leave for state employees. 

I’ve dealt with a lot of crises during the course of my administration, including multiple storms and the pandemic we face now. We invested billions to recover stronger and smarter from devastating storms. I will continue to make decisions based on science and data to put the health and safety of North Carolinians first. This moment demands measured and strong leaders who can hear everybody and who can be peacemakers in this state and this country because we need healing. I’ve done my best to be that leader and will continue to in my next term.

2. Students returning to university this semester were forced to abandon their dorms after COVID-19 outbreaks. What comprehensive plan do you support for students returning to school safety as the pandemic continues? 

As Governor, I will continue to do everything that I can to make sure that we get our students back into school as quickly and as safely as possible. We have to put safety over politics. And we have to do more for our public schools, not less, especially right now. That’s why I directed $95.6 million in new funding to help support K-12 and postsecondary students most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. More than 3,000 people have died from COVID-10 since the onset of the pandemic and thousands more have been 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?

Expanding Medicaid is the best thing we can do to help those who have lost their health insurance by closing the coverage gap and covering more than half a million people, including families and veterans, without additional state tax dollars. A large majority of states have expanded Medicaid, including Indiana when Vice President Pence was Governor there. Expanding Medicaid would also boost the economy by $4 billion, save rural hospitals and create an estimated 40,000 jobs.

I was proud to sign into law bipartisan legislation earlier this year that included $1.6 billion in assistance for families, schools, hospitals and small businesses. It was a bipartisan bright spot in the midst of this crisis. But the legislature’s sweeping corporate tax cuts and their tax cuts for the wealthy must be stopped and instead those funds should be invested in health care and education.

Our Early Childhood Action Plan aims to decrease infant mortality and improve maternal health with a specific focus on the racial disparities in maternal health and infant mortality. This year, I announced one of the state’s largest infusions of new dollars in our early childhood system: $56 million which will go toward improving early childhood education and health outcomes for at-risk children. We need to continue to expand these opportunities.

4. The pandemic has also dealt a major blow to the state economy, resulting in thousands losing their jobs. What initiatives do you support to help give a boost to the state’s small businesses and allow them to stay afloat during this time of economic uncertainty? 

Our economy is getting better as we’ve slowed the spread of this virus, but it can’t fully recover until we deal with this pandemic and people feel safer. I’ve called on Congress for the continued funding of expanded unemployment benefits. I’ve also pushed the legislature to fix the state’s own unemployment compensation.

I signed bipartisan legislation that included $1.6B to assist families, schools, hospitals and small businesses. I’ve advocated for expanded federal unemployment benefits and urged the legislature to improve our state’s unemployment compensation.

The legislature’s corporate tax cuts and tax cuts for the wealthy must be stopped. Those funds should be invested in education and health care to build a stronger workforce with better paying jobs.

5.  Do you support the Black Lives Matter movement? What policies would you support to address police accountability and racial equity? 

The deaths of George Floyd and other black lives broke open painful wounds. We have to listen to the people lifting up their voices for equality, and we have to keep pushing for justice and solutions. We must have those hard conversations and then make sure those translate to real action to fight racism and build safer communities. Black lives do matter. In June, I established the North Carolina Task Force for Racial Equity in Criminal Justice. Already the Task Force has made recommendations banning choke holds and installing a duty for officers to intervene in excessive force or abuse cases. I look forward to hearing their other recommendations soon.

As Attorney General for 16 years before I was elected governor, I’ve worked hard to fight violent crime and protect people, and I know law enforcement have difficult jobs. We have to make sure that we invest to attract and retain the best law enforcement officers that we can and make sure they reflect the communities they serve with more diversity. We also need better training of law enforcement on de-escalation and bias training.

6. 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? What other initiatives would you take to support low-income families in North Carolina? 

I support raising the minimum wage as anyone who works should not struggle to support their family.

As governor, I’ve operated on the core beliefs that all workers deserve equal pay for equal work and the right to have time to spend with and care for their families. I signed an executive order which addresses the gender pay gap by requiring state government agencies to ban the use of salary history in the hiring process. An unfair wage gap continues to hurt women workers—especially women of color—and requiring job applicants to report salary history can perpetuate gender pay inequities, hurting families, employers and our economy. 

The pandemic has underscored more than ever the urgent need to expand Medicaid to close the coverage gap for families. During the pandemic, I ordered a stop to evictions and utility shut-offs. 

7. Housing affordability is rapidly becoming an issue in major metros like Charlotte and Raleigh, pushing low-income families further from their jobs. What policies do you support to ensure North Carolinians are able to afford to live in the communities where they work? 

Housing is an increasing challenge in both urban and rural areas in our state. The state should work with local and federal housing entities and community members to determine the appropriate course of action to expand the state’s currently limited role to ensure North Carolinians have access to affordable housing. Traditionally, this has been mostly a role of the federal and local governments. When these hurricanes struck, we saw the need for affordable housing in eastern North Carolina, and we know it’s a challenge statewide. We should look at innovative ways to help, like tax credits and incentives for teachers, law enforcement and other frontline workers to be able to get these professionals affordable housing where they live. I look forward to doing that in my next term.

8. 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 in the state and safeguard the environment. 

Fighting to make sure North Carolinians have access to clean air and clean water and doing our part to reduce dangerous emissions is how we build a true line of defense against climate change. 

My Clean Energy Plan established a goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2025 and 70% by 2030 with carbon neutrality by 2050. We’ve fought offshore drilling and have stood against those who would threaten our coastal economy and our beaches. We are second in the country in solar energy, and that’s bringing thousands of renewable energy jobs. We need to continue to invest in renewables and make sure we achieve a carbon neutral North Carolina and stay on the path to a clean energy economy.

Climate change has intensified storms. We’ve invested $3.5 billion to recover from these hurricanes, helping people rebuild their homes and businesses along with our infrastructure to withstand future storms. We need to continue to push for greater resiliency to protect from natural disasters and move forward to grow smarter and stronger.

9. 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? 

We need real action on gun safety measures. I ordered our state to add 280,000 criminal convictions to our background check system, making it stronger so we can help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.

Until the federal government takes action to discontinue the sale of assault weapons to civilians, North Carolina law should be updated. I have urged legislators to ban the sale of assault weapons to anyone under 21 and ban large-capacity magazines. I have also urged them to require a permit for certain gun purchases, a three-day waiting period, and require anyone buying them — at a store, online, or at a gun show — to go through the same background check as they would for a handgun. 

I have also called on the legislature to pass a red flag law to allow courts to take guns from those who are known threats. I will keep pushing for a universal background check law. 

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

In my next term, I will continue to build on my mission, a North Carolina where people are better educated, healthier and have more money in their pockets so that there will be more opportunities for people to have lives of purpose and abundance. 

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