Name as it appears on the ballot: Sarah Crawford
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: sarahfornc.com
Occupation & employer: National Director of Partnerships and Programs; Single Stop
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 am a working mom and have dedicated my career to serving my community. I worked in the offices of Congressman Bob Etheridge and Congressman David Price serving constituents in the 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts. I currently run a national nonprofit, Single Stop, working with all levels of government to support low-income families achieve economic prosperity. Prior to that, I worked at Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities in Wake County, where I worked with state and local governments to support individuals with developmental disabilities. I have been active in the community, serving on the Ministry Leadership Team at Hope Lutheran Church in Wake Forest, and on the Board of Directors at Safe Space in Louisburg. I am particularly proud of the career that I have been able to build in the nonprofit space – in the past two years, I have worked to implement a free tax preparation program through my current work to support low-income families in getting their taxes done for free; I have worked with colleges in North Carolina and other states to help students complete college by helping them get access to food, healthcare and other supports; and I worked on behalf of children and adults with developmental disabilities that rely on Tammy Lynn Center every year to ensure they kept their life-sustaining and life-changing services.
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?
My top priorities include access to affordable and equitable healthcare, investing in public education and ensuring our economy recovers in the wake of the pandemic for working people. We must ensure that individuals and families have access to healthcare that is affordable and equitable, and ensure that we are enacting legislation that works to keep our rural hospitals open for the people who rely on their care. I will ensure that we focus on education funding so that every child in North Carolina has access to a sound, basic education in our state and has the ability to succeed. Education can be the great equalizer, but only when our children have the same access to educational opportunities, which means making investments in our teachers, classrooms and other school personnel in order to level the playing field; this includes investing in pre-k, k-12 and higher education. We must ensure in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that we help our communities recover. Growing a strong economy and a strong workforce, recruiting new companies and supporting our small businesses means putting our tax dollars to work in our schools, universities and colleges. We also need to target resources to support small businesses. Additionally, working towards universal broadband will enable each of these areas to grow stronger with the ability for people in rural areas to access telehealth, access online educational resources, and access telecommuting options.
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?
For the past decade, the General Assembly has ignored our schools, public health and infrastructure in favor of tax breaks to the wealthiest corporations, the first of which came in 2013 which cost the state $2.8 billion dollars per year. Additional tax cuts over the last three years to the wealthiest corporations led to further reductions in the state budget by close to $1 billion per year; this is funding that could have been used for our classrooms and our families. We also need to restore the Earned Income Tax Credit for families that earn less than $50,000 a year.
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?
A single mom of two children, working for minimum wage, would have to work more than 130 hours a week just to pay for food, clothing, housing and transportation for her and her children. There are only 168 hours in a week. The minimum wage has not been raised in North Carolina in ten years and has not kept up with the increased cost of living. I support an increase to the minimum wage so that all hard-working families can thrive, not just get by. Additionally, we need to make it easier for families to overcome housing and food insecurity by increasing access to affordable housing and healthy food as well as benefits like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
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?
In North Carolina, there is a shortage of nearly 200,000 affordable rental homes for extremely low-income renters. This does not even take into account the lack of affordable homes for families to own. The estimated number of North Carolinians that cannot find affordable housing is more than 1 million. There are many policies that can support increasing access to affordable housing, and ensure that our families can afford to live where they work. This includes ensuring that we fully invest in the North Carolina Housing Trust Fund, which is the state’s most flexible resource for meeting affordable housing needs. For several years after 2009, the funding in the NC Housing Trust Fund each year was less than half of what it should be. Additionally, we must take a holistic approach when supporting the residents of our state. Many of these challenges related to affordable housing do not live in a vacuum. We must work towards equitable opportunities in education, which is the number one predictor of social and economic mobility, ensure that college is affordable and accessible since completing a degree or certificate program increases the likelihood of making a living wage, and increase minimum wage.
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.
We need to raise the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS) percentage to 70% renewable energy by 2030. We are not just facing a climate crisis, we are in a climate crisis. We must reinstate the renewable energy tax credit which the NC General Assembly allowed to expire in 2015. We must support implementation of Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 80 which lays out goals for the state to achieve in the next five years that include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the number of registered, zero-emission vehicles, and reducing energy consumption per square foot in state-owned buildings.
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?
As a gun owner and former competitive shooter, I respect the rights of responsible gun owners and also believe that there must be appropriate controls in place that ensure the safety of our communities. I will fight for common sense reforms that keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and criminals and work to ensure communities where we can live, work and play without fear of gun violence.
Do you support the Black Lives Matter Movement? What steps would you take to address racial equity in North Carolina?
Racial inequity is very real in our criminal justice system, our education system and our healthcare system, among others. Black people are more likely to have harsher sentences for the same crimes, are 6 times more likely to be killed by police, are less likely to have access to healthcare, and are less likely to graduate. We must have policies, procedures and practices in place that are not simply “not-racist” but actively take race into account to make equitable systems in our State.
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?
When it comes to ending systemic racism, we must look at all of our practices, policies and procedures and accountability measures are no different. This includes reviewing how misconduct investigations are handled, the process by which the State Bureau of Investigation gets involved in investigations, and the transparency of certain records. Additionally, anyone who has been terminated due to misconduct should not be able to be rehired.
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?
I support the creation of a non-partisan commission for the purpose of determining future state and Congressional district lines. Putting the redistricting process in the hands of a nonpartisan office will remove undue political influence from redistricting and lower the chances of gerrymandered districts that favor one group of people over another. An independent process would restore fairness in the political system and create more competitive districts to better serve the democratic process.
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?
The bottom line is that for the past twenty years, the state has not been meeting it’s constitutional responsibility to provide for a sound, basic public education to every child in this state. Over the past several legislative sessions, our General Assembly has regularly put corporations over people, chipping away at funding available for schools by making changes in tax laws that largely benefit large corporations and the wealthiest individuals in our state. We need to reverse those tax changes and ensure that we put North Carolina’s children and families first.
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?
Education is where we deliver on the promise of equality, which means we need to ensure equitable public education systems for all. Charter schools do not meet that criteria because they are not held to the same accountability standards that traditional public schools are. Charter schools were originally intended to be student-centered, educator designed and locally controlled, allowing for the creation of education laboratories and innovation in education. They were never created to replace public schools and should not.
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?
Politicians in Raleigh have repeatedly refused billions of dollars to extend healthcare coverage to more than 500,000 North Carolinians through Medicaid expansion. This has cost the state $6 billion and countless jobs. From my experience at Tammy Lynn Center, I have seen firsthand the important role that this needed coverage plays in providing families the care they need and deserve. I will stand for North Carolinians and fight to protect families from the partisan politics that have denied healthcare coverage to hundreds of thousands.
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?
Our democracy works best when more people participate and more people participate when we take down barriers to voting rather than putting them up. We must ensure that all registered voters have access to fair elections, encourage access to the polls, and not put in place barriers that restrict the right to vote. Because the Voter ID law is a constitutional amendment, the legislature will not have the power to repeal. However, I will support efforts to reduce barriers to voting.
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?
We need to take a serious look at the death penalty; we will never eliminate the risk of executing an innocent person and the constitution guards against cruel and unusual punishment. I have serious concerns about how the death penalty has been implemented, particularly with the statistics we know about how it is applied unfairly to people who are black or low-income.
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