Name as it appears on the ballot: Roy Cooper

Campaign website:

Phone number: 9199771157


Years lived in state: Lifelong resident

Dear IndyWeek,

I am running for Governor to set a different course for North Carolina by prioritizing policies that help everyone, not just the select few. This means better jobs, improved public education, and more economic opportunities for middle-class families.

Today, wages for everyday people are stagnant, the cost of college is skyrocketing, we’re not attracting enough high paying jobs, we’re punishing people who are out of work, and our schools are starved for resources. Many of our best and brightest teachers are leaving for better pay and more respect. And middle-class families are worried about falling behind while special interests and those at the top get the breaks.

As Governor I will make public education a priority, focus on policies that lift economic opportunities for everyone, and work to expand Medicaid.

The Governor and the legislature have shifted our tax burden onto the middle class and the working poor through expansion of the sales taxes and elimination of the earned income tax credit just so they can make sure big corporations get massive tax giveaways. At the same time, they have derailed North Carolina’s success with divisive social issues and fear mongering that tear our state apart and cause us to lose focus on improving the everyday lives of our residents.

One key misstep that is costing us economic and physical health is refusing to provide health care to hundreds of thousands of state residents by expanding Medicaid. We need to keep North Carolina tax dollars in the state by expanding Medicaid and ensuring those dollars get spent here and not in other states. North Carolinians should be able to get a doctor’s help when they need it without breaking the bank. I am appalled by North Carolina’s failure to expand Medicaid to its neediest residents. Many Republican governors nationwide have said yes to health care for the working poor because of its significant economic benefits, so why not North Carolina’s? This will create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, help keep rural hospitals open, and help private employers keep their premiums lower.

I support the 2016 bond referendum. After years of cuts, the bond will provide crucial resources for our state’s infrastructure maintenance and some new construction at institutions of higher education. But we cannot let the Governor and the legislators get away with letting the bonds supplant what they should be doing for education. I believe more needs to be done to support transportation priorities, including alternative forms of transportation, and public school construction. I support allowing local communities to govern themselves in the way they see fit, and oppose state government meddling that has upended governance across the state. The leadership in Raleigh that has said ‘local government knows best’ apparently only meant local government it controlled. Overreach into local government issues—city council and county commissioner elections, water systems, airport management, zoning—was unprecedented and unnecessary.

I strongly support a woman’s right to choose. I have opposed new restrictions on abortions and access to women’s comprehensive reproductive healthcare and would have vetoed measures that restricted this access. I also opposed legislation ordering doctors to send women’s most personal medical records to state government for review. Healthcare decisions should be made between a patient and a doctor, not politicians or state government.

A strong economy and a healthy environment go hand-in-hand. I am glad North Carolina has become a leader in renewable energy technology and that energy companies are shifting toward more sustainable power supplies than coal. If North Carolina’s portion of the Atlantic Coast opens for offshore oil drilling important mitigations need to be in place to address the potential risk of environmental damage to our fragile coast and wetlands as well the potential risk to our tourism economies and recreational and commercial fishing. Without this mitigation and a share in the financial benefits our state will not be assured of either an economic win or a safe environment.

As Attorney General, I have disagreed with the state environmental regulators who were focused on scoring political points rather than protecting our water, air and other natural resources. North Carolina solutions, with input from citizens, are the best ways to create jobs and pursue sound environmental policy that preserves natural resources and public health.

As a legislator and as Attorney General, I have supported successful efforts such as North Carolina’s Clean Smokestacks Act, which I used to limit TVA’s pollution from our mountains, and the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard. Pursuing alternative forms of energy production has benefited our environment and has also been a growth industry in North Carolina creating multiple wins for our state. Meanwhile, I have opposed the efforts of utilities to raise rates on customers to benefit shareholders unnecessarily, and continue to oppose the efforts of utilities to pass on to ratepayers the costs of expenditures like coal ash cleanup. Unfortunately environmental damage has left some residents of our state unsure about the quality of their drinking water, and some are still drinking bottled water due to questionable water test results. What happened to the Dan River during the Governor’s watch should not happen again to any of the state’s rivers and streams. The coal ash cleanup should move forward quickly and effectively in line with what the science and public health officials recommend to ensure the integrity of our water supply and waterways.

North Carolina should address immigration issues the same way it does other policies of national interest, by advocating for resolution at the federal level, but not by persecuting people at the state level or engaging in expensive, partisan litigation. As Attorney General I have followed the law, including legal findings that the state of North Carolina had to provide driver’s licenses to the children of undocumented immigrants and allow students to attend state colleges and universities.

Upholding the law also means prosecuting criminals, though it does not mean racial profiling. While the 287(g) program allowing law enforcement to assist in apprehending violent offenders, its initial purpose may have been misused in some areas to target residents unfairly rather than keep the public safe.

Similarly other tools used by local law enforcement, such as government-issued identification, may now be banned to the detriment of law enforcement work. I am heartened that nonprofits in some communities such as Greensboro have begun issuing cards on their own which should assist residents and law enforcement alike in establishing identity, keeping people safe and fostering better community relations.

These relationships with our diverse communities here in our state are critical as we learned in the apprehension of several home-grown terrorists in Johnston County who conspired with overseas militants. Confidential tips provided by informants are often crucial to such investigations, as in this case. I cannot overstate the value of the trust and confidentiality across all communities, religions and ethnicities required to protect public safety. The trust has to go both ways.

Refugees and anyone traveling to the US from outside the country should be welcomed in North Carolina if they have undergone thorough and detailed vetting by appropriate federal authorities, and that appropriate records of those backgrounds are preserved. That is especially true for visitors from countries whose governments do not cooperate with the United States where information is difficult to acquire and unreliable.

If I were Governor, I would not have signed the I-77 tolling contract. I remain concerned about how much and in what ways motorists will be charged and what options the state has for moving forward with other road construction in the area given the nature of the contract. My office is currently reviewing the contract provisions given the legislative and local government concerns expressed to our office. Regardless of the outcome, I do not believe that it is in the best interest of our state’s motorists to toll existing highways, and have opposed such measures.

Good governance and the right policy is not always what is most popular with voters, and my job is doing what is right for North Carolina. I want to be the Governor for all of North Carolina, voters and nonvoters alike, and their preferences will differ and evolve as the economy, world events and their own lives change. The job of the Governor is to lead, to advocate effectively for change that is needed, and to set a course that moves the state toward progress and stability. I am sure that some of the responses even to these questions—Medicaid, driver’s licenses, toll roads—will be celebrated or panned, depending on the reader, but the job of Governor is to make tough decisions and get things done, even if they aren’t always popular.

Very truly yours,

Roy Cooper