Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Darren Jackson
Date of Birth: June 29, 1970
Campaign Web Site: darrenjackson.org
Occupation & Employer: Attorney/ Gay, Jackson & McNally, LLP
Years lived in North Carolina: almost 40 now.
1) What do you see as the most important issues facing North Carolina? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?
Jobs. Everyone that wants a job should have one.
Education. Every kid needs a sound basic education that prepares them for the jobs that will be available in the coming years. The dropout rate in NC is unacceptable.
Public Safety. People need to be and feel safe, no matter where in the state they are.
2) Are there specific needs in your district that you would add to that list? How do you propose to address them?
Drop-out rate. My district lags the county as a whole, but of course the entire statewide rate needs to be addressed. I will continue to support grants to work on this issue. As I meet with educators, I am always asking for new ideas. In our area, East Wake High School was broken up into four smaller schools and now we are starting to see an improvement in the graduation rate. I want to continue to help where we can at the state level.
I voted to do away with the High School Graduation project; not because it was necessarily a bad idea, but because of concerns that it wasn’t implemented in ways to provide all kids with equal opportunity and would have been just one more reason for kids to drop out.
I volunteer. And every time I speak to the Chamber, Rotary, at an Education Forum, or Town Hall Meeting, I ask others to do the same. Kids at risk need more attention. More resources are great, but they need someone to help with their homework, do a small reading group, whatever they are not getting otherwise. And this should be done by all members of our community and not just when they are running for office.
Raising class sizes and creating high poverty schools is not the way to go. I am afraid we are going backwards in these areas. I will continue to fight Republican efforts like these.
3. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you’ve identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.
-I believe I have shown the willingness to advocate and vote for important issues, even on unpopular issues and to break from my party and leadership when appropriate.
I voted for almost a billion dollars in new taxes and fees to try and make up some of the most drastic cuts being made to DHHS and public education.
4. How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
I am socially liberal and economically more moderate. I believe my votes will show that I am a bit hard to peg. I also think that if you spoke to people behind the scenes, you would find that I am pretty progressive on tax issues and was very opposed to the increase on the sales tax which I believe is one of the worst taxes to raise because of how regressive it is. In the end, I believed it was important to compromise to get at least some revenue increases.
5. The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.
I will continue to vote for laws that strive to treat everyone the same, with discrimination not allowed in any area whether it’s who we protect, who and how we punish, who we allow to have certain rights and opportunities.
6. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
I will not vote for any constitutional amendment to prohibit marriage or civil unions by any consenting adults. Our State Constitution should not be used as a vehicle to deny people basic rights like who they want to spend their life with.
7. The current state budget was balanced with approximately equal amounts of spending cuts (primarily to human services and local school districts) and tax increases. Another very tough budget battle looms ahead next year. Will you support: (a) deeper spending cuts? (b) greater tax increases? (c) another mix of the two? Please tell us what you’d cut and which taxes should be raised, if any.
B or C.
I will not vote to raise the sales tax (except on the so called sin taxes) any more. It is too regressive. Any more increases are going to have to be in the way of fees in the court systems for users and on people that make at least 100k per year (and businesses). We cannot continue to balance the budget with taxes that voters think are fair (ie sales) that are in effect extremely regressive.
My personal view is that those who can do more to help should. People die every day overseas for our country. Those of us that are here and can afford it should do what we can to help our fellow citizens here at home.
8. North Carolina is sending record numbers of people to prison, and when they’re released, they’re often lost and get in trouble again. The Governor’s StreetSafe initiative is aimed at breaking this vicious cycle and reducing the recidivism rate. As a legislator, what would you propose that she and the General Assembly do to help?
More treatment, less prison. We are going to have to look at how and why we send non-violent drug offenders to prison and whether short or long term that is best for them and the citizens and tax payers of our state. I have been a proponent of continued funding for services such as drug court and sentencing services.
I also don’t believe that the ABC system should be privatized. The local ABC board here in Wake gives a lot of money to groups like the healing place that are trying to break the cycle of addiction. Profit should not be the most important factor in dealing with addictive substances.
9. Health care: What should the state do next to address the problem of adults and children without adequate health care or insurance? What do you propose to do to address the mental health crisis?
In the current budget situation, I’m not sure what we can do this year in regards to more funding/restoring some of the cuts. My goal is to play defense and avoid further cuts. However, we have to find the funds to keep up with the growing needs of our most vulnerable populations.
I do think everyone should have health care/insurance. I am hopeful for reform on the Federal level. I know our budget will continue to have large holes with the growth of Medicaid until the entire system is reformed.
We need mental health beds here in Wake County. I will continue to raise the issue as local hospitals continue to ask for support for their new Certificates Of Need. I will also support continuing to fund programs that provide medications and treatments that keep people with mental health issues out of our emergency rooms and hospitals and at home with their families.
10) What is your position on capital punishment in North Carolina? If in favor, will you support a moratorium on executions while the question of whether the death penalty can be administered fairly is studied by the General Assembly?
-In favor of capital punishment. I do believe if the State is going to be in this business, then we make sure that we execute people based on the facts of their crime, not the color of their skin or the skin of the victim. That’s why I voted for the Racial Justice Act.
11) What is your position regarding LGBT rights? Please address whether gay marriages or civil unions should be made legal in North Carolina; also, whether sexual orientation and identity should be added as a protected class under state anti-discrimination laws, including state personnel laws.
Yes marriages/unions should be allowed.
Yes, everyone should be protected. I do not believe in discrimination for any reason.
I am glad HB 548 passed.
12) Do you support women’s reproductive rights, including the “right to choose” as set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade? Given that North Carolina has the ninth highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation, do you support medically accurate sex education that includes information about birth control?
-yes, I am pro-choice and support Roe.
-I also was a co-sponsor of HB 88, Healthy Youth Act, which hopefully will go towards that goal of giving medically accurate information to our children.
13) Should public employees have the right to bargain collectively in North Carolina?
-yes, I am a co-sponsor of HB 750 which would do just that.
14) The latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 11.2 percent of North Carolina’s workforce is unemployed. Please state specifically what the state should and can do to create new jobs, describe the kinds of jobs the state should support and what your role will be in creating them.
-The state should do more to help NC companies and small businesses. I believe there is going to be a package considered and approved in the short session. I am for many of these ideas being discussed, although I do not think it appropriate to list them until they are released. There will be a package though, of that much I am sure.
New companies come to NC for many reasons, but one of the major ones is our education system. We have to continue to make these long term investments by continuing to fully fund the enrollment growth in our community colleges and universities. We should help with retraining/training of workers for employers.
I would like to see NC encourage more jobs where we create things and products so that we are not just a service industry state. I know apparel manufacturing jobs aren’t coming back, but we can still be a state that produces something.