Several candidates for state legislature participated in a Wake County candidates’ forum in September. The INDY filmed the forum, which was co-sponsored by the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce, Triangle Community Foundation, NC-INPAC and Zeta Phi Beta.

In House District 41, incumbent Tom Murry has attempted to pass himself off as a moderate Republican in the General Assembly, but has still voted with Tillis 97 percent of the time. He voted with the GOP to block Medicaid expansion to 400,000 people and to defund Planned Parenthood. We solidly endorse Gale Adcock, a member of Cary Town Council and chief health officer for SAS’ family practice. Adcock is strong on women’s health issues and knows that the General Assembly’s eleventh hour teacher pay raise is a Band-Aid solution, not a comprehensive treatment. “People are concerned about the loss of intellectual capital,” she told us last week. “Teachers are moving to other states to work or retire.” She’s cautious on fracking and offshore drilling, and has declared that her number one legislative priority is restoring proper funding to public education. She also questions North Carolina’s use of the death penalty. A vote for Adcock is a solid vote for public education and women’s health.

House District 11

Ray Martin, a retired public school teacher, has stepped up as the Republican challenger to Rep. Duane Hall II. Martin doesn’t seem to have a lot of specific ideas about how to govern other than trusting in God and reducing taxes. By contrast, Hall, a real estate attorney, is a strong environmentalist and bulwark against fracking, offshore drilling, and letting Jordan Lake go to the dogs. Hall understands that putting an ‘open for business’ sign in North Carolina’s window with tax benefit packages isn’t the way to get companies to come to the state—the state has to be a desirable place to live in regards to quality-of-life issues and the school system. Hall believes that equal marriage is a “civil right,” believes in reinstating the Racial Justice Act, and realizes the contradiction of Republicans trying to limit a woman’s right to choose while restricting access to Medicaid. Hall has also been one of the fiercest critics in the house of Republican voter ID laws. Hall has been a strong legislator and we endorse him for another term.

House District 33

We endorse progressive Democrat Rosa Gill, a 10-year veteran of the Wake County Board of Education, a retired schoolteacher and former school administrator. In her two and half terms in the House, Gill has sponsored and supported key pieces of legislation; she was one of the primary sponsors of the bipartisan Eugenics Victims Compensation bill and she supported the Racial Justice Act, as well as the Healthy Youth Act which sought to improve sex education in schools.

Gill says she supports stronger gun control measures and legislation that promotes preventative health care services for North Carolinians, but her top priorities are education, the environment and the economy. Gill says continuing to adequately fund public schools from pre-K to post-secondary education is the only way to ensure a well-trained, motivated workforce that will attract industry and well-paying jobs to the state. Rated 100 by the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters, Gill is an advocate for clean, renewable energy.

Perry Whitlock from Garner is Gill’s Republican opponent. His campaign has been virtually invisible and he couldn’t even muster an endorsement from the Wake County Republican Party. We endorse Rosa Gill.

House District 35

Rep. Chris Malone, the Republican incumbent for the House District 33 seat, is probably best known for his close friendship with right-wing drama queen and perpetual candidate for public office, Debra Goldman, while the two served on the Wake County Board of Education. (She alleged they had an extra-marital affair; he denied it.) Outside of his personal travails, Malone is a candidate who sponsored bills not to expand Medicaid, to drug test people applying for welfare benefits and to give tax credits to parents who homeschool their children. A self-described “gun enthusiast,” the New Jersey native thinks teachers should be paid on merit, tax cuts should be expanded and Roe vs. Wade should be overturned.

Malone’s views are so out there, that we’re endorsing Brian Mountcastle, even though the Democrat has never held public office. Mountcastle is a construction management consultant and a Raleigh native. He serves on an advisory board for the Salvation Army of Wake County, a member of the Town of Knightdale Old Town Committee and a member of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. If Mountcastle’s website is any indication, he understands the dire straits facing all areas of education in North Carolina and he has detailed ideas about ways to improve government efficiency, the economy, public safety, transportation and the environment. Mountcastle says it is lawmakers’ role to govern the state, not our personal lives; he promises to “use his business experience” to make demands on government that will further the interests of North Carolinians.

House District 36

As House senior budget chairman, Rep. Nelson Dollar deserves much of the blame for the mangled and late- to- materialize budget thrust upon the state in the throes of the short legislative session this summer. It was the House’s idea to use increased lottery ticket sales revenues (to be generated by increased lottery advertising) to pay for a 5 percent raise for teachers. Then, Dollar lied to fellow House members and to the publicwhen the executive director of the North Carolina Lottery Commission advised that the $106 million in forecasted lottery ticket sales would not materialize.

The House and Senate finally agreed on a budget in August (no lottery provisions present), months after the session should have ended. The budget is devastating, with more cuts to the UNC system, pro-voucher, pro-charter caveats and no Medicaid assistance. Dollar shares the blame in this, too. Throw his anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-immigrant credentials into the mix, and we have a perfect storm of reasons to endorse Democratic challenger Lisa Baker for the seat.

Baker, a businesswoman from Cary, is not fooled by the General Assembly’s claims that they respect teachers by having given them a raise this year. “They mislead North Carolinians with regard to education funding by citing average values for teacher raises knowing full well that many experienced teachers received less than a 1% raise,” Baker wrote in her INDY questionnaire. “They also mislead by saying they increased education funding when the expenditure per pupil actually decreased.” Baker supports increasing funding for public education and opposes school vouchers. She supports the Racial Justice Act and opposes Voter ID. She supports workers’ rights and the right to safe, legal abortion and she opposes fracking and offshore drilling. Baker sees the Republican agenda in the General Assembly for exactly what it is, and we think she’d make a fine replacement as Representative of House District 36.

House District 38

In her freshman term in the House, our choice Rep. Yvonne Lewis Holley initiated and helped guide a bipartisan study committee on food deserts, as access to a grocery store is one of the biggest issues facing her district in southeast Raleigh. As it turns out, food insecurity is a big problem across North Carolina, and there is the distinct possibility that, had Holley not brought the issue to her fellow lawmakers’ attention this session, the problem of food deserts would have been ignored for another year or more.

We commend Holley for her work on the study committee, which saw many stakeholders from communities across the state come together to work towards a solution to the problem of food insecurity last winter. Holley, a retired state government employee, is a progressive Democrat with deep roots in the southeast Raleigh community. Her opponent, Joe Thompson, did not return an INDY Week questionnaire and doesn’t appear to have a campaign website, or a social media presence. But we think Holley is as strong a candidate for the district as anyone could ask for, and she has our endorsement.

House District 40

As a legislator, Marilyn Avila is all over the place. On her website, Avila lists issues she is “directly involved with,” including Voter ID (which she supports “in order to assure the right of all citizens to vote”) and the House bill that would restrict tanning bed use by children under 18. She opposes it because “laws should not be made between a parent and a child.” (What about child abuse laws?)

Avila apparently does think that laws that stand between a woman and her doctor are OK. She and a handful of others in the House led the charge to defund Planned Parenthood in 2012, and she has voted for every restriction on legal abortion that has been put forward during her four terms. Avila doesn’t seem to care about the environment, as she co-sponsored the failed Affordable and Reliable Energy Act (it would have nullified renewable energy requirements for utility companies.) Or maybe she just doesn’t know enough about the environment; at the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce candidates’ forum, Avila offered no position on whether she thought the Mining and Energy Commission’s rules for fracking were stringent enough because, she said, she just didn’t know enough about fracking.

All Avila seems to know for sure is that she is a “lifelong conservative Republican” and she votes in accordance with those beliefs. District 40, however, deserves real leadership and we think former Morrisville mayor and Cary Town Councilwoman Margaret Broadwell is the candidate to deliver that. Unlike Avila, Broadwell opposes fracking outright, winning her endorsements from the Sierra Club and the N.C. League of Conservation Voters. Broadwell believes the state should expand Medicaid, bring teacher pay up to the national average and advocate for jobs, housing and medical benefits for veterans. Broadwell knows what the issues are, and she knows where she stands on them. We strongly endorse her.

House 49

Former Wake County commissioner Gary Pendleton faces off with Kim Hanchette, founder of the Diabetes Bus Initiative, for this open seat. Hanchette has taken a stand against public monies being used for private school vouchers and is firm on investing in the public school system. She understands that the GOP’s voter ID law was effectively a voter suppression law, and has stood with her fellow health-care workers as part of the Moral Monday movement. She’s against fracking and offshore drilling, and would be a sturdy defender of abortion rights. Hanchette understands the danger of enshrining anti-union right-to-work laws in the state constitution and is for restoring the Racial Justice Act to make sure innocent people aren’t imprisoned or executed for crimes they did not commit. She believes that gerrymandered districts endangers democracy and is for a nonpartisan redistricting of North Carolina’s voting map. Hanchette is a much-needed voice of strong progressive principles in the North Carolina General Assembly.

Senate 15

We endorse Tom Bradshaw, a former mayor of Raleigh, who shares an interest with his Republican opponent John Alexander in repairing North Carolina’s education system by increasing per pupil funding.

However, while Alexander believes the General Assembly is doing good work with the 7 percent teacher pay raise, Bradshaw says the GOP legislator is putting “our future in peril.” He has spoken out against fracking, private school voucher programs and cuts to public education. Bradshaw has plenty of experiencehe is a former state transportation secretary, he was the chair of the Environmental Management Commission and is on the board of the Triangle Land Conservancy. In the past he supported the death penalty, but has recently spoken out against it and supports reinstating the repealed Racial Justice Act. He’s a strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose and has spoken admirably about the Moral Monday movement, describing the legislative building as the “People’s House.” Bradshaw is a reliable vote for progressive values; he also has the experience that could make a difference in the Senate.

Senate 16

Although neither candidate sent a questionnaire, this one remains a no-brainer. Molotov Mitchell is an idiosyncratic, ultraconservative gun-obsessed fundamentalist Christian who owns a Krav Maga studio here in the Triangle. He has the word “Zealot” tattooed on him and has habitually gone after Islam as “violently intolerant.” He’s a scary, eloquent, violently anti-abortion, marriage-is-one-man-and-one-woman deep Internet Glenn Beck who has amazingly gained some traction with the North Carolina Republican Party, to their own detriment. By contrast, Sen. Josh Stein has been a reliable bulwark against insanity in a decaying, froth-mouthed General Assembly. Stein is well spoken and on the right side of every issue that comes down the line at him. A vote for Josh Stein in this ill-matched race is so glaringly obvious that there’s really no need to write more.

Senate 17

Incumbent state Sen. Tamara Barringer says she is “passionate about education,” and she has the credentials to back up that claim. An attorney, Barringer is also a law professor at the state’s flagship public university, UNC-Chapel Hill. She has served as PTA President at Cary’s Adams Elementary School and she is a “longtime public school volunteer.”

During her first term in the state Senate, Barringer has sponsored several billsmany of them bipartisanaddressing the needs and well-being of children. Senate Bill 605 appropriates funds for mental health treatment for children who have suffered emotional trauma. Barringer sponsored the 2013 School Safety Act with Democratic Sens. Josh Stein, Earline Parmon and Angela Bryant. And, as a licensed foster parent herself, Barringer sponsored a bill requiring a joint legislative oversight committee to study oversight of the state’s Department of Social Services and identify conflicts of interest within the system.

Barringer’s opponent, Bryan Fulghum, did not respond to our questionnaire, nor did he appear at the Wake County candidates’ forum. Fulghum is young and, according to his Facebook page, he works as a cashier at Buffalo Wild Wings. While there’s nothing wrong with that, we think Fulghum needs more political experience before considering a bid for the state Senate.

And although she voted with the Senate majority a disappointing 98 percent of the time last session, Sen. Barringer is, to her credit, not of the far right, tea party ilk. We think she deserves another term.

Senate 18

Chad Barefoot, the young protégé of Republican hard-right puppet master Paul Stam, is an ideologue who has lived in Senate district 18 for only three years. He has held tight to the ultra-conservative party line, voting to block Medicaid expansion and fast-track fracking in the state. His campaign is tied to an unsavory lobbying organization that works primarily on behalf of school voucher proponents, tobacco companies, anti-marriage equality endeavors, and a smear campaign against Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson.

We endorse his opponent Sarah Crawford, who has lived in the district most of her life and is a rising star in the Democratic Party. Crawford is smart on education issues: in favor of expanding public-school funding and rejecting taxpayer-funded voucher programs. Her top priority is a real, comprehensive plan to fix issues in North Carolina’s public education system and make the state more attractive to good teachers. She has serious questions about the use of the death penalty and has spoken out against repressive voter ID laws. She supports a woman’s right to choose, would take a stand for worker’s rights in North Carolina, and would push to get Medicaid expanded in the state. We stand behind Crawford in this important and competitive race.