Name as it appears on the ballot: Yvonne Lewis Holley
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: yvonnelewisholley.com
Occupation & employer: State Representative
Years lived in North Carolina: 50+
1) What in your background qualifies you to lead the people of North Carolina effectively?
I have lived in and seen a segregated North Carolina. I participated in the desegregation of North Carolina. Through these experiences, I’ve lived to see the progress of policy and people changing in our state. I know the kind of courageous and sometimes difficult decisions it took from all of us.
I was also a community advocate and a State government employee.
I have served in the General Assembly in the minority party for 8 years during one of the most politically divisive periods in history. I have a demonstrated, proven record of bringing people together to get things done for all of us.
2) What would you cite as your three biggest career accomplishments?
My biggest career accomplishments are retiring as a state employee after 25 years of service, winning my State House Race in 2012, and getting food desert legislation in the budget as part of the minority party.
3) Students returning to university this semester were forced to abandon their dorms after COVID-19 outbreaks. What comprehensive plan do you support for students returning to school safety as the pandemic continues?
In the months ahead, we will all work together to figure out how we bring our children physically back into schools responsibly and safely. But beyond this moment, we cannot forget the underlying issues of inequality that this public health crisis has revealed. We need leaders with the experience not to have knee jerk political reactions that play on our fears and seek to divide us while making little effort to solve the actual problem as people’s lives get worse.
There needs to be a variety of plans based upon each college and the community it serves. Off campus housing at reduced rates need to be offered and negotiated at each college for students to return.
4) More than 3,000 people have died from COVID-10 since the onset of the pandemic and thousands more have been 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?
Yes, N.C. should expand Medicaid. The ACA needs to be strengthened as it offers healthcare to many underserved individuals 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 N.C. that are currently without insurance. It would also bring more healthcare jobs to N.C. 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 N.C. 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.
5) The pandemic has also dealt a major blow to the state economy, resulting in thousands losing their jobs. What initiatives do you support to help give a boost to the state’s small businesses and allow them to stay afloat during this time of economic uncertainty?
We need to extend and protect moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures so that people have some sort of security during this crisis. That is why I introduced a bill to help people impacted by COVID-19 to their pay rent and mortgages. So far, three fourths of the federal governments small business rescue fund did not go to small business owners, but instead went to large, publicly traded corporations. We must also demand that the federal dollars meant for actual small businesses are not being hijacked by wealthy corporations.
6) Do you support the Black Lives Matter movement? What policies would you support to address police accountability and racial equity?
Yes, I support Black Lives Matter. I have seen us fight hard for civil rights from the very basics of where we get to sit to have a meal, to where we get to live or where we get to send our children to school. Changes have always happened on the other side of a period of unrest and right now we are seeing that happen again. During integration we were striving for something different, something better. Progress was made but never fully achieved. Now is the time for us to work together, take what we know about what is working and what isn’t working to create systems for public that will work for everyone. I want to see structural changes in our criminal justice system that respect every citizen in North Carolina regardless of race, how much money they have, or where they live. We can prioritize spending on community health, education and affordable housing. N.C. spends over three times as much money to incarcerate someone for a year than it does per pupil in its public education system. We can support alternative first responders by investing in non-police community safety initiatives. We can prioritize spending on community health, education and affordable housing rather than expanding police budgets. We can remove equipment intended for war from our local communities. We do not need to use military tanks and military chemical agents against our own people.
7) 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? What other initiatives would you take to support low-income families in North Carolina?
The fact is the average NC worker hasn’t seen their wage grow at the rate it takes to meet the rising cost of living. $7.50 an hour minimum wage used to support one person but now you would have to work more than an hour to afford a decent lunch. We are asking families to provide for their entire families on what was meant for 1 person. It is time for leaders to act. We need a living wage for North Carolinians thaw allows hardworking North Carolinians a wage that allows their dignity.
8) Housing affordability is rapidly becoming an issue in major metros like Charlotte and Raleigh, pushing low-income families further from their jobs. What policies do you support to ensure North Carolinians are able to afford to live in the communities where they work?
There is a public, private and non-profit partnership that is needed. Unfortunately, since the private sector is so profit-driven, we do need that balance of accountability. This is why I developed a bi-partisan, multi chamber committee to work on this issue. There is no state agency that deals with housing or food insecurity. My Affordable Living Initiative is geared towards bringing all the people together to address this issue.
9) 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 in the state and safeguard the environment.
Governor Cooper’s Executive Order 80 calls on N.C. to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 40% below 2005 levels. To get there, the DEQ clean energy plan calls for NC to reduce its carbon footprint 70% by 2030; which will require a move away from fossil fuel power generation. The order also has an environmental justice component. I support the efforts of Executive Order 80. I believe state government should lead by example. In that spirit, I would make sure that State Agencies see this order as a priority and I would lead initiatives to make sure our infrastructure is more energy efficient. I would ask my cabinet to make formal plans consisting of goals and expectations to meet the new standards. This would ensure we move away from fossil fuels and provide avenues for departments to meet and exceed their environmental goals with funding and provide them with the tools needed to accomplish them. The Lieutenant Governor serves as the chair of the Energy Policy Council, which recommends energy legislation to the Governor and the legislature. I would revisit much of the legislation that has pulled back our environmental laws. I would work with the legislation to develop new effective ways of cleaning our lakes, rivers, and streams through prevention, not just clean up. I would also work to bring like-minded community groups and organizations together in a formal capacity to come up with solutions.
10) 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?
I support the 2nd amendment rights of law abiding North Carolinians and I support common sense gun laws that protect all of us. The two are not mutually exclusive. There are common sense laws we all can agree on that will keep us safer while also protecting the rights of law abiding gun owners. Our children’s safety depends on it. Here are some specific policies I support:
Universal background checks for all gun sales.
Gun violence restraining orders, which allow judges to take away guns from domestic abusers and other individuals that have exhibited threatening or dangerous behavior.
Ban bump stocks.
Raise the age for purchasing an assault weapon from 18 to 21.
11) 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 (which includes protecting women’s reproductive rights), independent redistricting, protecting voting rights, and tackling climate change. However, 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 N.C.
Affordable and Attainable Housing
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
I started a bipartisan workgroup committee with House and Senate members studying ways to make housing affordable and attainable in both urban and rural communities. As a result of the vast information and problems identified, I introduced and got a bill passed in the House for a comprehensive study addressing this issue. Unfortunately, my bill never got picked up by the NC Senate. As President of the N.C. Senate, I will make attainable housing one of my driving issues.
Access to Affordable and Healthy Food:
One of the first issues that I worked on in the General Assembly has been food security. I introduced HB 387, which would create the Healthy Food Small Retailer Fund in the Dept. of Agriculture and Consumer Services for food desert relief purposes by providing micro-grants for equipment and shelving, initial expense offsets, and food and nutrition education. Governor Cooper signed this bill into law in 2019. 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 until there are no food deserts in N.C.
Economic and Workforce Development:
Both rural and urban communities want and need opportunities for citizens and businesses to thrive. This means working together to give citizens from all economic classes access to North Carolina’s growth and opportunities.
Economic development doesn’t just mean business and community growth, it also means giving our citizens access to this growth, by providing them with workforce development through education and training. In doing this, we expand the workforce and turn laborers that feel left behind into a ready, able, and skilled workforce. Preparing our hardworking labor force will encourage growth and create an environment that will build greater communities.
As Lt. Governor, I will work with new and existing companies that want to be in N.C., to get them to commit to being community partners, not just “investors”. As a member of the N.C. Board of Community Colleges, I will promote using and enhancing our educational institutions and job training programs to produce living wage and above living wage jobs. By providing a ready, able, and skilled workforce, industries will consider NC the destination for success.
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.
I want to bring back respect to public education and teachers. I believe that who you are and where you live should not dictate access to quality education. For too long, public education has not received the proper attention it deserves. Our students and teachers deserve respect and support. As a member of the State Board of Education, I will fight for an increase in per-student spending to equal the national average, as well as an increase in teacher pay to match the national average. Increased public education funding should go toward the increase in the number of school librarians, psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, and other health professionals. I am a proponent of public education, and believe that public money should go toward public schools.
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