Name as it appears on the ballot: Jamie DeMent Holcomb
Party affiliation: Democrat
Campaign website: jamiefornc.com
Occupation & employer: Executive Director, Kidzu Children’s Museum
Years lived in North Carolina: 40
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 lifelong North Carolinian, born and raised in rural Franklin County. I am a UNC graduate and Morehead Scholar. I have a deep commitment to our state and the people who call it home and I believe my background uniquely fits to address the specific and dynamic needs of Orange, Casewell, and Person Counties.
I have an unusually diverse “career” history. I have worked on Capitol Hill, have owned restaurants, owned and operated an organic farm for 18 years and online farmers’ market for 10 years, written two cookbooks and traveled the country as a celebrity chef, founded a venture capital firm focused on homegrown North Carolina startups and now serve as the Executive Director of Chapel Hill’s own Kidzu Children’s Museum. My biggest career accomplishments include:
• Being brave enough to leave a very successful and lucrative career to become a farmer, to do something I thought would literally make the world around me a better place – and, to keep that farm alive and thriving for 18 years in a world that does not support local sustainable agriculture at the level it should.
• Turning years of learning and teaching into two successful nationally recognized cookbooks, The Farmhouse Chef, Recipes & Stories from my Carolina Farm and Canning in the Modern Kitchen.
• After owning and operating several small businesses, taking the step to found a Venture Capital Fund focused on North Carolina startups – to invest in our local economies and keep jobs and innovation in North Carolina.
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?
1. Providing an equitable share of resources for our public schools. We need to pass the Leandro plan and better pay our teachers and support staff and if the Courts fail to support Leandro, we have to have steps in place to cover the holes left behind – including increasing teacher pay and support and improving infrastructure and resources in ALL North Carolina counties.
2. Expanding access to healthcare including Medicaid expansion and funding healthcare services/facilities in our rural communities. Expanding access to healthcare for our rural communities includes investing in healthcare clinics that are already placed in rural communities and supporting and incentivizing rural healthcare workers.
3. The expansion of reliable and affordable broadband, especially in rural areas. Everyone relies on internet access for everything from school to doctor’s appointments. We need to look at and support municipal-owned broadband. Local leaders are the ones who know the needs of their communities best and can ensure broadband is reliable and affordable.
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?
Local Governments and Municipalities have a role in protecting their citizens and providing the needed support and programs to ensure everyone has a good quality of life. Municipalities are also the most informed about the particular needs and complexities of their individual 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?
Yes. As the cost of living continues to rise across the U.S it becomes more and more impossible for people to live with the current minimum wage standards in most states. I support the Raise the Wage Act which plans to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025.
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?
As our cities and towns continue to grow we are seeing a constant rise in home prices. We need to make sure we are taking proactive steps to ensure we are equitably supporting and protecting ALL of our communities – from the new businesses we want to encourage to move to our State that will increase tax bases and contribute to the quality of life AND the communities that already exist in our State at every socioeconomic level. A piece of this is addressing affordable housing. There is already a lot of great work and research being done in this area and much more that needs to still be done. The legislature has never done much to support housing in North Carolina and, realistically, it’s not likely to happen under current circumstances. I would support the work of many of the public and private partnerships that have helped to build affordable housing communities in our district, like the work done with Habitat for Humanity and the Weavers Grove Community in Chapel Hill. I would also support changes to our zoning policies that allow multi-family unit housing and open the door for more choices in housing.
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, we do have an obligation to prevent the impacts of climate change. I have been an environmental advocate my whole life. I was raised to know the importance of being a good steward of our environment,18 years ago my husband and I purchased a farm in Hillsborough and quickly began to grow our business of a sustainable farm and online farmers’ market.
1. We need to invest in renewable energy, on and off shore, and make sure that it is affordable and easily available to everyone.
2. As construction continues to grow in our cities and towns we need to make sure they are building to the EPA standard highest green rating and using sustainable materials.
3. Expanding public transportation. The population growth in our communities means the growth of carbon emissions. We need to combat this by investing more in public transportation and in particular electric buses where possible and light rail systems across the State.
7. Would you support an independent process for drawing new legislative and congressional districts?
Yes. We must have an independent nonpartisan commission draw our legislative and congressional districts and put an end to partisan and racial gerrymandering. This will likely take a Constitutional Amendment but the effort will be worth it for generations to come.
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. Right now the NCGA does not adequately fund public education because we do not pay our educators and support staff reasonable salaries and we do not distribute funds in an equitable fashion. I am an advocate for the Leandro plan because I believe that it can close the rural vs urban and socioeconomic divides we have seen in school funding for decades.
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?
As a State senator, I will always vote to uphold a person’s right to choose and protect access to safe abortion and reproductive care so I want to see our State Legislature come together to protect these rights at a State level.
10. Should North Carolina expand Medicaid? Where do you stand on increasing the number of slots for the Innovations Waiver for special needs individuals?
I support the full expansion of Medicaid. There is no situation where we should be hindering access to healthcare for anyone. As someone who grew up with a health condition and spent years navigating our healthcare system, I know how important the expansion of Medicaid would be for all North Carolinians, particularly those living in our rural communities. The expansion of Medicaid would help us create a stronger healthier community by providing people with preventative care and providing resources and jobs for our rural healthcare workers.
11. Do you support reforming North Carolina’s marijuana laws? Do you support full legalization? Please explain your position.
I support the legalization of recreational and medical marijuana. It should be completely legalized and regulated in the same manner we treat alcohol in our state by taxing it and providing age limits for purchase.
12. Are there any issues this questionnaire has not addressed that you would like to address?