Candidate’s name as it appears on the ballot: Vernetta Alston
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: vernettaalston.com
Occupation & employer: Developer, self-employed
Years lived in North Carolina: 40
1. What in your background qualifies you to represent the people of your North Carolina district effectively? What would you cite as your three biggest career accomplishments?
I have devoted my career to public service. I worked as a death penalty lawyer for almost 10 years representing folks on NC’s Death Row. in 2014, I helped exonerate North Carolina’s longest-serving death row inmate. In 2017, I was elected to my city council and in 2020, I was appointed then elected to represent District 29 in the North Carolina House.
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?
I want to continue working with Democrats and Republicans to expand access to health care which we can do by expanding Medicaid and access to paid leave, and paying health care workers adequately.
We still have a lot of work to do to fully fund our public schools. The Legislature has been given specific direction through the Leandro decision and should implement the policy and funding requirements outlined there to provide our students a sound, basic education.
We should pursue clean energy and transportation goals that serve all of our communities. The Governor’s clean energy executive orders provide reasonable targets and methods to achieve those targets. We should adhere to them and implement the agency-level changes needed to accomplish those goals.
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?
I support municipalities exerting control where practical for them to address the demands of their local communities.
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?
North Carolinians deserve an economy that works for everyone and that begins with a livable wage. Currently, a livable wage is between $16 and $17 per hour. North Carolina can lead the way by raising the minimum wage. Over the last two years, I have co-sponsored bills to do just that.
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?
The State can and should consider long-term policy changes like eviction reform, expanded tax relief programs, more funding for existing housing funds, and better incentives for investors, developers, builders, and local governments to address the extreme demand for housing units. I have filed bills to provide relief for small landlords and protection for vulnerable renters, create affordable housing for local educators and study affordable housing needs statewide.
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, consistent with Governor Cooper’s clean energy executive orders, I support policies like faster transition to zero-emission vehicles, the creation of more clean energy jobs, and reduction of the state’s dependency on fossil fuels, to name a few.
7. Would you support an independent process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts?
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?
Yes, our courts have found that the General Assembly has chronically violated the right to a sound, basic education by underfunding our schools and the General Assembly is bound by those court decisions. I remain committed to working with Democrats and Republicans to implement the constitutionally required changes to public school funding.
9. When it comes to teacher pay, North Carolina is one of the lowest-paying states in the nation. Schools across the state are facing shortages of educators, support staff, and other key personnel. Do you support raising teacher pay to at least the national average? What else can the General Assembly do to improve working conditions for teachers and make the teaching profession more attractive to potential future educators?
Yes. There are many things the General Assembly can do to improve conditions for teachers including better funding for teaching assistants, reinstatement of due process for teachers, reinstatement of master’s pay, adequate training and resources so all educators can develop their curriculum and advocate for their students.
10. The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling this spring that overturned Roe v. Wade. The legal cutoff for abortion in North Carolina is now 20 weeks. Do you believe the 20-week cutoff is too restrictive, not restrictive enough, or just right? As a state lawmaker, would you support legislation that further limits or prohibits abortion in North Carolina, or punishes/criminalizes abortion providers or patients?
Reinstatement of the 20-week ban was unnecessary and I will continue to support legislation that protects reproductive health care access for those who need it.
11. Should North Carolina expand Medicaid? Where do you stand on increasing the number of slots for the Innovations Waiver for special needs individuals?
Yes, and I support increasing Innovation Waiver slots.
12. Do you support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws? Do you support full legalization? Please explain your position.
Yes, generally, I support legalization. Legalization could open the door to significant revenues for the State and support for our agricultural industries.
13. Do you support strengthening gun safety regulations such as expanding background checks, banning bump stocks, and raising the age to buy or otherwise regulating the sales of assault-style weapons? Please explain.
Yes, we need statewide bans on bump stocks, trigger cranks, and high-capacity magazines. We also need to renew the ban on assault weapons that lapsed in 2004, support extreme risk protective orders, and support more accountability for legal gun owners who do not report their firearms lost or stolen. In the House, I challenged dangerous bills that would have eliminated gun permits, reduced training requirements, and severely limited local authority to deny permits or require training for concealed carry permits. I co-sponsored bills for the disposition of unclaimed or seized firearms, firearm safe storage awareness which was passed in a subsequent bill, as well as a bill that would require a permit for long guns.
14. Are there any issues this questionnaire has not addressed that you would like to address?
No. Thank you for your consideration.
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