Name as it appears on the ballot: Sarah Crawford
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: www.sarahfornc.com
Occupation & employer: CEO, Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities
Years lived in North Carolina: 30
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 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 serve as CEO of Tammy Lynn Center for Developmental Disabilities and prior to that I worked with Single Stop, a nonprofit working with all levels of government to support low-income families achieve economic prosperity. I have been active in the community, serving on the Ministry Leadership Team at my church, and on the Board of Directors for an organization supporting victims of domestic violence. Additionally, I was elected to the North Carolina General Assembly in 2020 and have served in the Senate since January 2021. I have worked to build bipartisan support, advocating for strong investments in public education and healthcare. I am particularly proud of what I have been able to accomplish in the NC Senate in the past year, including lowering taxes for families by increasing the child tax deduction, raising the minimum wage to $15 for workers under Medicaid, and investing $1 billion for investments in affordable, reliable broadband access. Additionally, I worked to prevent voting restrictions from going into place and prevent restrictions on a woman’s right to choose healthcare that is best for her. Finally, I am very proud of what we have accomplished in my work with nonprofits. Under my leadership, Tammy Lynn Center is serving more than 600 individuals and their families every year and the organization secured $1 million in federal funding to build a new facility to serve people with disabilities. Additionally, at Single Stop, I worked to implement a free tax preparation program through my current work to support low-income families in getting their taxes done for free; and 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 support.
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?
My top priorities include access to affordable and equitable healthcare, investing in public education and ensuring a strong economy 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 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 that we are 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 to access telehealth, online educational resources, and telecommuting options.
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?
State and Federal regulations should be the floor, not the ceiling, when it comes to local control. Municipalities know their communities best and should be able to exert their authority over greenhouse gas emissions, criminal justice reforms and development-regulating ordinances. Moreover, municipal governments should not have to worry about the General Assembly meddling in their local ordinances, provided that they are not harming the public or doing anything that violates state law.
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?
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 over a decade and has not kept up with the increased cost of living. I support an increase to the minimum wage to a minimum of $15, indexed for inflation, 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.
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?
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 increases the minimum wage.
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.
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 246, which strengthens the state’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including increasing the statewide goal to a 50% reduction from 2005 levels by 2030 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible, no later than 2050. We must also address environmental justice and equity, ensuring that as we transition to a clean economy, we consider equity issues and how decisions in the past have impacted low-income and minoritized communities and work to address disparities.
7. 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.
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?
The bottom line is that for the past twenty years, the state has not been meeting its 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.
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?
We must protect a woman’s right to choose the healthcare that is best for them, and it will be critical that North Carolina not restrict access to healthcare. I have and will continue to fight to make sure everyone has access to comprehensive healthcare.
10. Should North Carolina expand Medicaid? Where do you stand on increasing the number of slots for the Innovations Waiver for special needs individuals?
Medicaid expansion is long overdue in North Carolina, and it is not right that politicians in Raleigh have not provided access to affordable healthcare to families. The current General Assembly has repeatedly refused billions of dollars to extend healthcare coverage to more than 600,000 North Carolinians. This has cost the state $6 billion and countless jobs, and moreover left families without coverage. I support expanding the number of slots for Innovations Waivers for individuals with special needs. Having worked directly with individuals on the Innovations Waiver at Tammy Lynn Center, I have seen first hand how much having these services mean for the individual served and for their family. In 2021, as a State Senator, I voted to increase slots for 1,000 individuals and increase wages for certain workers under Medicaid so that providers could better recruit workers needed to serve the population. We still have more work to do with a waitlist of thousands, some of whom have been waiting for services for more than 10 years.
11. Do you support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws? Do you support full legalization? Please explain your position.
If legalized, North Carolina would join a growing list of nearly 40 states to reform marijuana laws. Marijuana has been proven to be effective in relieving pain from chronic conditions and in treating post traumatic stress disorder that individuals face after trauma, such as veterans. The North Carolina General Assembly considered legislation that would legalize medical marijuana in North Carolina in 2021 and I supported bringing it to the full Senate for a vote. Unfortunately, leadership would not let the bill be heard outside of committee.