Name as it appears on the ballot: Sam Searcy
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: SamSearcy.com
Occupation & employer: CEO of CliniStart
What in your background qualifies you to represent the people of North Carolina effectively? What would you cite as your three biggest career accomplishments?
Growing up, my dad lost his job when it was shipped overseas, and our family lost its home to foreclosure. I started working at 14 to help support my family and worked to put myself through college, becoming the first in my family to graduate with a four-year degree. I took the opportunities North Carolina gave me and started several successful small businesses here in North Carolina and like many small business owners, I’ve had to face the challenges of making payroll and paying my bills, while building a business. Our small businesses are going to be a major factor in our economic recovery from COVID-19 and it’s important that we have people in Raleigh who understand the challenges they face. I’ll use all of my life experience to work for every North Carolinian and help us build a stronger North Carolina.
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 first is helping our state recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. That means helping those who’ve lost their jobs stay afloat while our economy recovers and to do that we’ll need to expand and extend our current Unemployment Insurance program. We also need to focus on helping our local small businesses and make sure they have what they need to survive. Second, we need to ensure that every North Carolinian has access to health care, and we begin that by expanding Medicaid. This would help hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians, create thousands of new jobs, and help keep rural hospitals open. Third, we must reinvest in our schools. We need raise per pupil spending and teacher pay to at least the national average. I’m who I am today because of the quality education I received in our public schools all the way through Appalachian State. I want to make sure that every student has the same opportunities I did and that starts with a quality education.
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?
I think some have and some haven’t. Overall, I believe too many of these cuts have been focused on large out of state corporations. If we’re going to give tax breaks to businesses, they need to be to our local small business who are the real engine for our economy. I believe any extra revenue needs to go first to our schools and helping our workers and small businesses pay their bills until the economy recovers.
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?
Yes, we absolutely need to raise our minimum wage to $15 per hour. While Republicans in the General Assembly have been giving tax breaks to large corporations, they’ve left North Carolinians behind by refusing to raise the minimum wage to where it should be.
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?
We need to look at denser development, increased affordable housing, and a better public transit system.
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.
First, we should work to increase the clean energy sector in North Carolina. We have excellent universities and research facilities that can, and should be, on the leading edge of developing affordable, clean energy technology. Second, we should be looking for ways to increase power from clean energy sources in North Carolina, especially solar and wind. Third, our state government should be taking the lead to support clean energy policies to make clean energy more accessible to all North Carolinians.
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?
There are some commonsense gun safety measures we should take. First, we need universal background checks to keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. Second, we should institute Red Flag, or Extreme Risk, laws to create a judicial process to help keep guns out of the hands of those who are a risk to themselves or others. Finally, we should ban the sale of assault weapons in North Carolina
Do you support the Black Lives Matter Movement? What steps would you take to address racial equity in North Carolina?
We have a systemic racism problem in North Carolina and yes, I support Black Lives Matter and ending the systemic violence that is happening in the black community. This past session we finally passed both the First Step Act and the Second Chance Act, which are important steps, but are only first steps. Democrats in the Senate have filed many bills to address the disparities that weigh heavily on our state. Those include “Ban the Box”, restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit, ethics training for school employees, and the Hate Crime Prevention Act, but all have been blocked by the Republican majority. We also need to devote more resources to minority communities that have been shortchanged for generations and work with them to end the systemic racism and violence they face every day.
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?
Yes, I would. One of my top responsibilities as a State Senator is keeping all North Carolinians safe. If a police officer acts in a way that puts the public at risk, there needs to be a way to hold that officer accountable, just like we do for everyone else in North Carolina.
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?
Yes, we need an independent redistricting process in North Carolina. Voters should choose their elected officials, not the other way around.
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?
No, our public schools are not adequately funded. I believe we need to roll back some of the tax breaks we’ve given to large corporations and put that money into our public schools.
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?
No, I oppose the expansion of charter schools. Charter schools in North Carolina act with little oversight and that’s unacceptable. Charter schools should be held to the same standards and expectations that we hold our public schools to.
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?
Yes, we absolutely must expand Medicaid. Doing so would help hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians access health care, create thousands of new jobs, and help our rural hospitals stay open.
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?
Yes, I would. Voter fraud is an invented problem. For too long, Republicans in Raleigh have worked to disenfranchise African American voters, and this is just one more attempt to do so.
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? If not, do you believe the legislature should change the law to restart executions?
Yes, I support a repeal of the death penalty.
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