Name as it appears on the ballot: Ya Liu
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: yaliu4nc.com
Occupation & employer: Small business owner
Years lived in North Carolina: 18
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 am running for the NC House to bring my local government experience and academic background to the state legislature. As a life-long volunteer, community organizer, and Cary Town Councilwoman, I have been committed to fostering a healthy communal environment. Throughout my professional career, I have created a thriving small business, earned two doctoral degrees in sociology (NCSU) and law (NCCU), published numerous articles in public health and geriatric research, and taught at Duke Law School. In the legislature, I will fight for quality health care and education, advocate for smart environmental policy, and lead efforts to improve the quality of life for seniors and every citizen of North Carolina.
I completed my J.D. from an evening program while working full-time at Duke. As a Cary Town Council Member, I am proud to be a strong advocate for business prosperity, careful infrastructure growth, public transit, and environmentally friendly policies. I also championed the creation of the Senior Advisory Board in Cary; a board dedicated to advocating for support for senior citizens.
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?
North Carolinians work hard and deserve a thriving economy. I will advocate for workers, small businesses, and job creation so that we come back stronger than ever from the pandemic.
Healthcare costs continue to rise at an alarming rate. As your representative, I will champion affordable health care to ensure every North Carolinian can care for themselves and their family.
We must preserve access to clean water, clean air, and the natural beauty of our state. As your advocate in the General Assembly, I will work to secure a healthy and sustainable future for your children and mine.
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?
The people who know the most about a community are the people who live in it. I believe that municipalities often know what would be best for their region. Thus, municipalities ought to have the ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and other factors that contribute to environmental degradation. Regarding development-regulating ordinances, municipalities should be allowed to influence the amount and type of development that occurs within their region to execute their vision of a sustainable, affordable, and safe community.
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?
Housing, food, and health costs have continued to rise at an unsustainable rate, and we must pay our workers more to account for this. I believe the minimum wage in North Carolina should be raised to at least $15 an hour. Our workers are the backbone of our economy, so we must ensure that they are paid fairly in order for them to have an enjoyable and productive work experience.
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?
It takes a village to address the housing affordability crisis. Private and public sectors must work together to make housing more accessible for our citizens, especially seniors and young professionals. State legislature can incentivize private sectors and local governments to develop a diverse and healthy housing stock and make sure our teacher, firefighters, and first responders live in the communities where they serve.
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, the state government has an obligation to prevent and mitigate the impacts of climate change. While serving on the Cary Town Council, I have been a strong advocate for electric fleet, public fleet, solar, and solar infrastructure in Cary and will continue to advocate for environmental protections in the General Assembly. We need to reduce energy and water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste. A better-connected transit system will boost businesses and make our community stronger. Therefore, we should diversify our transit system, expand bus routes, build safer bike lanes with barriers, and make it easier to our residents to use public transportation. North Carolinians love the outdoors, so we must preserve open space and our parks, continue to build sidewalks and greenways, increase greenspace by planting more trees, and protect North Carolina’s beauty.
7. Would you support an independent process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts?
Absolutely. It is vital that we are intentional in our impartiality, especially when it comes to drawing districts. The drawing of new legislative and congressional districts cannot be subjected to bias.
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. The General Assembly is constitutionally obligated to provide all children in North Carolina with a sound basic education. The Supreme Court has already ruled that North Carolina is constitutionally obligated to do so in 1997 and 2004. This obligation is paired with the responsibility to ensure that children are taught and guided by qualified teachers, staff, and principals. Additionally, North Carolina must supply all children with the necessary resources and funding to succeed in our growing and evolving educational system.
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?
Raising teacher pay is one of the first and most vital steps we must take as a state to ensure that our children are provided with exceptional educational possibilities. Increasing teacher pay would attract even more qualified and committed individuals to come teach our children. Furthermore, as a state, we must work to make sure schools and classrooms are safe environments for our teachers. We also need to account for the rising housing costs that may deter teachers from moving to North Carolina to teach. As a member of the General Assembly, I would advocate for affordable housing for our teachers.
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?
As a state lawmaker, I will advocate for women’s rights to make their own medical decisions and work to codify Roe v. Wade. I think my girls should have the same bodily autonomy as their brother. It is a right that millions of women fought for and earned almost 5 decades ago, and we should not go backwards by taking away a woman’s fundamental right to choose.
11. Should North Carolina expand Medicaid? Where do you stand on increasing the number of slots for the Innovations Waiver for special needs individuals?
As someone with experience in the public health field, I am passionate about expanding access to healthcare. I believe that every citizen of North Carolina deserves access to high quality and affordable healthcare, and we should expand Medicaid immediately.
Regarding the Innovations Waiver, I support adding additional slots for special needs individuals. All people ought to choose the kind of life they live, including those with special needs. The Innovations Waiver gives individuals with special needs control over their own lives and living space, and I support individuals having this choice.
12. Do you support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws? Do you support full legalization? Please explain your position.
I support North Carolina legalizing medical marijuana. Studies show that it is an effective treatment for cancer patients and veterans experiencing PTSD. I have talked to families of cancer patients, and that they say marijuana has made a difference for their loved ones and wished that it was legally available.
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.
Gun safety should be a top priority for every elected official and citizen. To make our schools, workplaces, and communities safer, we must strengthen and improve our gun laws/regulations. Extensive background checks should be required for those seeking to purchase a firearm. More specifically, mental health evaluations should be carefully conducted. I support sensible gun legislations that will better regulate bump stocks and assault weapons to ensure that our schools and neighborhoods are better protected from gun violence. Additionally, the legal age to purchase a firearm should be increased as a large portion of assailants in recent mass shootings were individuals aged 21 or younger.
14. Are there any issues this questionnaire has not addressed that you would like to address?
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