Name as it appears on the ballot: Michael Nelson
Campaign website: https://nelsonfornc.org
Phone number: (919) 413-7942
Years lived in the district: District since 2005. North Carolina since 1997
1. What do you think are the three biggest issues facing our state? If you are an incumbent, what have you done to address those issues, and what more would you do if given another term? If you are a challenger, what would you do differently to address those issues than the incumbent has done?
Parents should have a choice on how to educate their children. They should have full access to their tax dollars so they can find the best educational opportunity for them. I would expand school choice and make sure programs are funding that parents have the widest selection of school options open to them.
People should have a choice on how to make a living. Regulation and licensing laws should not exist just to keep out competitors. As much as possible these laws and regulations need to be eliminated.
People should have a choice of where to get healthcare and be able to choose the option that works best for them. Healthcare providers should be able to offer more options. We need to reduce certificates of need and expand the ability of mid-level providers to provide care without a supervising physician.
2. It seems hardly a day goes by without news of another mass shooting. On the state level, what changes to gun laws, if any, do you support? If you do not support any changes, please explain why you think the current laws are successful.
Many days go by without “news of another mass shooting”. The problem is not laws, it is about people. Gun laws cannot and will never be “successful” unless we change the values and morals of our society.
3. In recent years, Duke Energy’s coal ash spilled into the Dan River and Chemours’s GenX leaked into the Cape Fear River. Do you think these companies have been held sufficiently accountable? Do you believe the state has put in place sufficient regulations to prevent these problems from occurring again? If not, what more do you propose doing?
Neither these companies nor the government agencies responsible for regulation have been held accountable. More regulation will not solve the problem unless and until both private companies and government officials – elected and appointed – are held accountable for the harm they do and for not going their jobs.
4. In the wake of Hurricane Florence, at least six hog-farm lagoons were damaged and more than fifty saw discharges or were inundated with floodwaters as of this writing, according to the DEQ. More than five thousand hogs have died, and right now it’s unclear what the ultimate long-term environmental impacts will be. Since Hurricane Floyd, environmentalists have warned that, in a severe flooding event, the farms’ “anachronistic” waste-disposal techniques could pose a threat to the state’s waterways and public health, while the industry has insisted that its farms utilize best practices and are already heavily regulated. Do you believe these farms, and their lagoons, pose a risk to the environment? If so, do you believe the state has done enough to minimize that risk?
Laws cannot protect people from natural disasters. The way to regulate this is not to mandate their sue by law, but to encourage it by providing economic incentives. By economic incentives, the businesses themselves will be allowed to decide what system works best.
5. This year, Smithfield Foods—the world’s largest pork producer—has lost three verdicts in North Carolina totaling millions of dollars, after juries found that its farms’ methods of waste disposal infringed on the property rights of their neighbors. But in the last two years, the General Assembly has taken steps to make it more difficult for these neighbors to sue or to recover substantial damages, citing the threats these lawsuits pose to the well-being of family farmers. Do you believe the legislature’s actions with regard to these nuisance lawsuits are prudent? Why or why not?
Many of the homeowners who claim they have been harmed moved into their neighborhoods that already had hog farms nearby. So they knew what they were getting into before they got there, which by common sense means you don’t have the right to complain or sue. That being said, I believe the legislature’s actions to restrict lawsuits was wrong.
6. It has been estimated that special sessions of the North Carolina legislature cost about $50,000 per day. Since 2016, the General Assembly has called seven of them to deal with everything from passing HB 2—the so-called bathroom bill—to passing restrictions on the governor’s powers after Roy Cooper defeated Pat McCrory to, most recently, clean up controversial constitutional amendment language so that it complied with a court order. Under what circumstances do you think it’s appropriate to hold a special session?
Special sessions should only be held for emergencies and be limited to that topic. The one for Florence was justified – the other recently have been a waste of taxpayers money.
7. What are your thoughts on the six proposed constitutional amendments before voters this November? Please explain which you support and which you don’t support and why. What do you think about the process behind these amendments—what critics have described as a limited public debate, for example, as well as the elimination of amendment numbers and ballot summaries, and the lack of so-called implementing legislation, which could be passed in another special session after the November vote?
At this time I support none of the amendments as proposed. As you state there is no implementing legislation, and the process did not involve the people of North Carolina whom it impact the most. So the impact is truly open for these and none of them have appropriate language or funding to implement.
8. In May, thousands of teachers from all over the state marched on the legislature to demand better pay, more resources for students, and more respect. Do you think North Carolina’s schools are being adequately funded? If not, what taxes would you be willing to raise—or what services would you be willing to cut—to fund them better?
Most of the teachers who marched said their primary reason for marching was not for higher salaries. They spoke about other needs: smaller classrooms, textbooks, too many additional duties, not enough recognition of academic credentials like masters degrees
The solution is more education choice for parents, teachers, education administrators, and students, not more funding. Let’s focus on the freedom to access options for student success. It includes the freedom to reward engaged teachers and develop innovative instruction. And it allows for the freedom to enhance quality and performance while responsibly controlling cost.
Expand North Carolina’s state-funded Education Savings Account program to cover more students, allowing better education options for all students, especially students with special learning needs and families with financial hardships.
Expand open enrollment within and between public-school districts, allowing families to find the best school fit within the public-school system without obtaining permission from their home district.
Expand and fully fund the North Carolina Opportunity Scholarship program, allowing greater access for all families, including those who lack the financial means to enroll their students in a private school.
9. Currently, twenty-nine states have minimum wages above the federal minimum. North Carolina is not among them. Do you believe North Carolina should raise its minimum wage?
No. Minimum wage laws actually hurt those the most entering the workforce by restricting their hours so that businesses can maintain profit. Most jobs in North Carolina already pay over the minimum.
10. Under current law, toward the end of 2020, municipalities will gain the authority to pass nondiscrimination and living wage ordinances—unless the General Assembly intervenes. Since the winner of your race will be in office at that time, do you believe local governments in North Carolina should be allowed to make these decisions for themselves?
No, I do not believe any level of government should be making decisions on nondiscrimination and wages.
11. Over the last couple of years in Wake County, county commissioners and school board members have battled over local school funding. Recently, some commissioners have made moves to petition the legislature to allow for a pilot program in which the Board of Commissioners turns over school-taxing authority to the Board of Education, as is the arrangement in most states. In general, do you believe the state’s elected school boards should have the responsibility to raise taxes for the schools they oversee? Why or why not?
No, I do not believe a school board should be able to tax. Their job is to manage the system with the funding they are given, and if they legitimately need more funding to raise that proposal. We seem to have developed a system while the answer is always throw more money at the problem – which isn’t solving the problem at all.
12. Since Governor Cooper’s election, the legislature has taken a number of steps to assume powers that were previously the executive’s domain, including overhauling the State Board of Elections. Do you believe these decisions were merely power grabs, as Democrats have alleged, or that they were made in the interests of public policy?
These moves were total power grabs. It’s not the first time – nor will it be the last. Democrats are just as guilty of this when they controlled the legislature as Republicans.
13. Over the last year, the state has frequently found itself in court over its legislative and congressional districts, which courts have ruled to be unconstitutional racial and partisan gerrymanders. Given this, do you believe the state legislature of that last several years has acted as a legitimate body? If not, what do you propose as a solution? If yes, please tell us why.
Both of the current established parties in power are guilty of perverting and manipulating the political redistricting process to increase and maintain their power. While all have pledged to work for an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process this hasn’t happened. Voting maps should be drawn in a fair and impartial way that protects the freedom of voters to hold their government accountable and to have a say in who represents them.
14. Give an example of a time, during your political career, when you have changed your position as a result of a discussion with someone who held an opposing view.
When I served as president of my neighborhood HOA for nine years, I often had to reconcile my belief that a property owner had the right to do with their property what they wished with the rights of their neighbors to do the same. So while I did not change my beliefs, I looked at them through the lens of reality. The essence of good government is achieving compromise without compromising your principals. That’s what I believe in.
15. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some points with voters.
One stand I would not budge on it is that I will not vote to increase any taxes nor propose any bonds, on anyone for any reason. If more money is needed for a government action, I would look for programs to adjust in order to cover the expense. North Carolinians are taxed enough – we need to be smarter with our money not just keep asking for more.