Name as it appears on the ballot: Yvonne Lewis Holley
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: yvonnelewisholley.com
Occupation & employer: State Representative, NC Dist. 38
Years lived in North Carolina: 68
1) If elected, what will be your top three priorities for the next four years?
As your candidate for Lt. Governor, I am running to make living affordable for all North Carolinians. My priority issue is a program I will champion and lead from the Lt. Governor’s office – I’m calling it The Affordable Living Initiative (ALI). My ALI platform establishes a state-wide initiative that brings together public/private partnerships, non-profits, urban and rural governments, legislators, environmentalists, homebuilders, and everyday citizens to help solve some of the problems that have become critical needs in communities across NC. ALI will focus on the following:
Access to Affordable and Healthy Food
Jobs (Living wages, Entrepreneurial, Small Business, and Workforce Development)
2. Criminal Justice Reform – In order for people who have served in the criminal justice system to become viable citizens, there must be some criminal justice reform. Let’s begin with money: the state needs to fund the Raise the Age juvenile program, and provide more funding to programs like the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.
We must end the use of bail as a punishment for people who are not at flight risk and have not been found guilty of any crime.
I strongly oppose taking away driver’s licenses for non payment of fines. We must end this form of punishment for non-traffic violations.
We must work with and support the Second Chance Act and other re-entry programs, which allow people who have served their time to begin rebuilding their lives. I have and will continue to work to help find and establish a process to reinstate ex-offenders – who have served their time – to get or regain certifications and licensures. This will allow them to earn a living and take care of themselves and their families.
I’ve worked directly with expungement programs, like NC Justice Served, and I support Durham’s DEAR Program. These programs have proven track records and must be duplicated and/or expanded across the state.
I will continue to support and push for mental health and drug treatment programs over incarceration. These life changing initiatives will help keep families together, save people, allow everyone to become viable citizens, and will save the state millions of dollars in taxpayer money. Treatment is less expensive than incarceration, not just in monetary value, but in what it costs people and the lives around them.
3. Public Education – First and foremost – I believe that public money should be used for public schools. It is great that we have private and parochial school options, but we must not and cannot weaken the existing system. Many private schools that are receiving public money have no accountability and can pick and choose which students to serve. All schools who receive public funding should be held to the same standards. I want to bring credibility and fair accountability back.
Teaching is an honored profession. Our students deserve to have qualified teachers in every classroom, teachers paid their value, and given professional development opportunities for growth. When non-public schools are allowed to be selective in who can attend, the result tends to be re-segregation. One of the biggest assets of our public school system is its diversity. Diversement teaches our students not only academics, but exposes students to people from all over the world and prepares them for an open future. We must work to keep racial, ethnic and economic diversity in our schools.
Taking over struggling schools should be the responsibility of the State Department of Public Instruction, not sent out to private companies for profit. We need to provide resources, financial and professional, to help up the standards of teaching in our schools.
By working and pulling together people from urban and rural areas, analyzing what works, funding and supporting implementation, we will enhance the quality of life and provide opportunities for all the people of NC. This is why my platform is called ALI: Affordable Living Initiative.
2) Do you believe North Carolina should expand Medicaid? What do you believe the advantages would be? Are you concerned that costs would be greater than expected, as New York has experienced recently?
Yes, NC should expand Medicaid. The ACA needs to be strengthened as it offers healthcare to many underserved within existing healthcare services. We still need to work to lower costs. The ACA needs to be strengthened and modified to encourage and allow more people to participate.
Medicaid expansion would cover an estimated 600,000 people in NC that are currently without insurance. It would also bring more healthcare jobs to NC and save our communities money. Medicaid expansion will play a crucial part in saving our rural hospitals. A healthy community is crucial to expanding North Carolina’s economy. Since being in the NCGA, I have consistently worked toward Medicaid expansion.
My efforts are not just to expand, but also to improve healthcare, by encompassing overall affordable healthcare in NC. Other ways to increase access to healthcare include:
Looking for innovative ways to incorporate telemedicine use
Working with pharmaceutical companies to lower drug costs
Saving rural hospitals by helping them be more efficient
Supporting programs like the SAVE Act, which modernizes healthcare services by expanding nursing capabilities across the state
Making clinics accessible and affordable so that people will not use the Emergency Room as primary care is an ongoing challenge and a part of many North Carolinians lives
Encouraging preventative care and early diagnosis: to keep costs down is something that will benefit us all
Efficiency in ER wait times and more staff resources will help us become a healthier place to live and keep costs down
3) Citing a growing economy and budget surpluses, Republicans have called for additional tax cuts. Democrats, including Governor Cooper, have argued that the state has other needs, particularly education. Do you believe the tax cuts over the last decade have been effective in stimulating the economy? If given the choice, are there any tax cuts you would rescind or any new taxes you would enact? If so, toward what would you put the additional revenue?
No, I do not think that tax cuts have stimulated the NC economy. If anything, the wealth gap has widened. The cuts have not trickled down to better wages or other benefits to the working people in NC. These cuts have only taken away funding for many important issues like education, housing, infrastructure, environmental issues, and other programs that would have resulted in a more stable workforce and improve the quality of life for all NC, including the businesses that received the tax cuts. The sales tax and high fee system disproportionately affect people with limited income far more than those with higher incomes. For example, we now pay taxes on services like car repairs and home repairs; services needed most by low to moderate income people with older homes and cars. Yet, services like accountants and financial advisors, which are used by the wealthy, are not taxed.
4) In January, a superior court judge ruled that the state was not living up to its constitutional obligation to give students a “sound, basic education.” The judge relied on a consultant’s report, which some Republicans have criticized, that called for additional per-pupil spending. Do you believe the state needs to spend more on K–12 education? Broadly speaking, how much more do you think the state should spend?
Yes, I do think we need to do more for per pupil spending, and I believe public money should go to public schools. We should go up to at least the national average, and then we should get back up to spending levels before the 2008 recessions plus the costs of inflation.
5) Do you believe that tax dollars should go to private schools? If so, under what circumstances? Do you support the expansion of charter schools? Why or why not?
Tax dollars should only go to private schools in instances where private schools are under contract with the public school system to provide specified services for specific students.
I believe Charter Schools should have a cap so they do not force public schools into becoming segregated and/or underperforming schools. Many Charter Schools pull financial resources, talented teachers, and gifted students in many areas of NC. Yet to date, they are not held to the same accountability standards that traditional public schools are under.
6) Gerrymandering has been the subject of debate and lawsuits in North Carolina for the last decade. Do you believe the state should establish an independent process for drawing legislative and congressional districts? If so, what would it look like?
Yes, I believe in an independent redistricting process. States that are currently using independent redistricting processes, have varying methods for selecting. I think there should be appointments by the Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, the Governor and others selected through a pre-established process.
7) That National Popular Vote Interstate Compact has been approved by 16 jurisdictions controlling 196 electoral votes for president; it will become effective should states with 74 additional popular votes approve it. North Carolina has 15. Do you believe North Carolina should join this effort, or do you believe the current system should remain in place?
Yes, I believe NC should join. I believe in the popular vote of all the people. Every vote should count.
8) Do you think that transgender individuals should have their treatments for gender dysphoria covered under the state’s health care plan?
Yes. Healthcare is healthcare.
9) Given the conservative makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, several states have recently pursued aggressive abortion restrictions, even laws that directly challenge Roe v. Wade and Casey v. Planned Parenthood. If elected, would you support efforts to restrict access to abortion in North Carolina? For that matter, would you support efforts to expand access to abortion?
I would support efforts to expand access for everyone. It’s a woman’s right to choose.
10) Later this year, provisions of HB 142, the replacement for HB 2, will expire, including sections that prohibit local governments from passing higher minimum wages and passing antidiscrimination ordinances. Do you think municipalities such as Charlotte and Raleigh should be permitted to raise the minimum wage or pass an antidiscrimination ordinance that includes protections for transgender people in public accommodations?
Yes and yes. I believe that there should be NO discriminatory practices in any public area and municipalities should have the authority to raise wages and pass ordinances for anyone using public accomodations.
11) In 2018, voters passed a constitutional amendment requiring voter identification, and the General Assembly soon passed a law putting it into effect. That law has since been put on hold, at least for the primary, pending a lawsuit. Do you believe in-person voter fraud is a serious threat, and the law is a reasonable way to address it? Do you believe the voter ID law should be repealed? Why or why not?
In person voter fraud has never been a serious threat. The restrictions being placed by the Voter ID laws impede constitutional rights. It has been proven that the absentee ballots in NC are more problematic. This is why I believe voter ID laws in NC should be repealed. It’s a discriminatory practice designed to intimidate voters.
12) North Carolina’s coast has seen several major storms in recent years, and scientists say this trend is likely to continue as the effects of the climate crisis become more pronounced. What steps do you believe North Carolina should take to mitigate the damage these storms can cause?
First, we need to become less dependent on fossil fuels and develop programs that can cut back on climate change. I support Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80 to reduce gas emissions and carbon footprint by 2030 or earlier. We need to enforce stronger building codes with materials to withstand repeated storms. We should evaluate whether we should build and rebuild in areas of repeated flooding.
13) Do you believe that elected North Carolina sheriffs should be required to cooperate with immigration authorities, even if they believe that doing so makes their communities less safe?
No. ICE is a federal agency that works independently of the state and local government. The safety of the individual communities and the cost involved in this federal program should not be placed on local law enforcement, especially when it has not proven to increase community safety. The Sheriffs’ primary job is to protect.
14) What restrictions would you support, if any, on the rights of North Carolina residents to obtain and carry firearms? Do you believe that assault weapons should be banned? Do you believe that the state should pass “red-flag” laws?
I support legislation that bans assault weapons and high capacity magazines. I believe NC should require background checks and licencing permits for all firearms. For personal rights to carry only after required gun safety lessons. The gun show loophole needs to be closed! This means, private to private sales must require the firearm be registered to the new owner (like vehicle registration transfers). I wholeheartedly support red flag laws.
15) 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?
I do not believe in the death penalty. We should repeal the death penalty in NC.
16) Regardless of what you think of his policies, do you believe that Donald Trump is a good role model and an honorable person?
I do not believe that Donald Trump is a good role model or an honorable person.
17) Are there any issues this questionnaire has not addressed that you would like to address?
As your candidate for Lt. Governor, I am running to make living affordable for all North Carolinians. My fellow Democrats and I agree on these things: Medicaid expansion, better public education, access to affordable healthcare, independent redistricting, protecting voting rights, and tackling climate change, but my time in office has taught me that there are pressing issues not being addressed which have become critical in communities across NC. I’ve put these issues into my platform, a program I hope to champion and lead from the Lt. governor’s office – I’m calling it The Affordable Living Initiative (ALI). My ALI platform establishes a state-wide initiative that brings together public/private partnerships, non-profits, urban and rural governments, legislators, environmentalists, homebuilders, and everyday citizens to help solve some of the problems that have become critical needs in communities across NC.
ALI will be a statewide initiative to bring organizations across the state together to form private-public partnerships to tackle these issues:
At least 310,000 people in North Carolina are spending more than half of their income on housing. This means families across the state are having trouble putting food on the table due to skyrocketing rent prices. This isn’t the quality of life our North Carolina families deserve. Housing is an essential component to everyday North Carolinians and frankly, human life. As your next Lieutenant Governor, I will work with residents, developers and local governments to find solutions to build fair cities and expand affordable housing. ALI is dedicated to having diverse voices at the table – we’ll come up with practical, applicable solutions:
Comprehensive Legislative Study to review laws/policies that hamper affordable housing
Eviction expungement program
Increase financial resources for the NC Housing Finance Agency
Implement energy efficiency conversion programs for existing stick built/mobile/modular homes
Study ways to upgrade inaccessible homes or repair “sick homes”
Study tax structures in areas of rapid gentrification which may push people out of their homes
ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE & HEALTHY FOOD
1.5 million people in North Carolina live in food deserts that lack access to healthy food. I am taking on this crisis in the Lt. Governor’s office with my Affordable Living Initiative to fight food insecurity affecting our citizens. Since my start in the General Assembly, I have pushed to address food insecurity, and will keep pushing it until every North Carolinian has access to healthy and affordable food. I introduced a bill which would create the Healthy Food Small Retailer Fund in the Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This bill addresses food desert relief by providing micro-grants for equipment and shelving, initial expense offsets, and food and nutrition education in small neighborhood stores. In October 2019, this bill became state law. This law will continue to need funding, and the battle will continue as budget wars persist in the General Assembly. Your support for my candidacy as Lt. Governor would push this issue to the forefront, and I will work to expand this program.
JOBS (Entrepreneurial, Small Business, and Workforce Development)
I have sponsored bills to raise the minimum wage and worked with Commerce and the Community College System to prepare our already existing labor force through education and training. By working with ALI, workforce development should include entrepreneurial and small business training to provide a ready workforce and new business/small business opportunities. When small businesses and entrepreneurs thrive in NC, there are more jobs created in our local economy.
For all jobs, raising the minimum wage to a living wage is a priority. By providing a ready, able, and skilled workforce, we can create an economy that works for North Carolinians.
People need access to reliable public transportation to get to their jobs, medical appointments and live their day to day life. I recommend expanding transportation options, like Bus Rapid Transit, micro transportation systems, and light rail systems wherever possible.