Name as it appears on the ballot: Valerie P. Foushee
Years lived in the district: 60
1. In your view, what are the three most pressing issues North Carolina faces? If elected, what will you do to address these issues?
(1) Providing for a world-class public education system, (2) strengthening our economy; and (3) protecting our environment.
At graduation, our students must be prepared to compete nationally and globally. We need well-funded highly regarded schools with access to early intervention and failure prevention strategies. We must pay teachers enough to attract and retain the best and brightest to our schools, and provide the necessary resources to help our children succeed. Investments in education are investments our future. At 44th in the nation in per pupil spending, we are in a race to the bottom.
I support policies that maintain a business-friendly atmosphere; and, as the business world changes, we must change with it. We must repeal HB2 and restore our state’s ability to recruit and attract high-quality, good-paying jobs. Many North Carolina families have not experienced the “Carolina Comeback.” Our economy should work for all North Carolinians.
Over the past six years, we have seen a dismantling of environmental regulations that have served to protect our water and air quality for decades, putting at risk the health our many North Carolinians. We must continue to review our standards and regulations responsibly, and enact legislation that will protect and preserve our natural resources for future generations.
2. If you are challenging an incumbent, what decisions has the incumbent made that you most disagree with? If you are an incumbent, what in your voting record and experience do you believe entitles you to another term?
I have been honored to serve residents of Orange County for nineteen years in four elected positions: CHCCS School Board, the Orange County Commission, the NC House and Senate. During my tenure in the General Assembly, I have fought for, supported and promoted issues that matter to all North Carolinians in general, and residents of District 23 in particular. Some accomplishments are:
Sponsored enabling legislation for economic development for the Town of Chapel Hill;
A statewide bill that permitted pharmacists to administer injections other than flu shots;
Secured funding to preserve 71 jobs at the Orange Correctional Facility;
Legislation to extend a land lease to facilitate the construction of a new jail facility in Orange County on State-owned property;
The conveyance to Chatham County of a parcel of state-owned land in Moncure where a public park is planned;
The satellite annexation of the Western Chatham Mega-Site into Siler City which will enable Siler City to provide the infrastructure necessary to attract industry to the site and jobs to Chatham County;
Worked with the Department of Transportation to make major improvements to O’Kelly Chapel Road to make it safer for bicyclists, pedestrians and auto drivers;
Sponsored two bills for the Town of Cary that relate to town governance.
3. The most contentious issue of this year—and this election—has been HB 2, especially in light of the NCAA’s decision to pull its championships from the Tar Heel state. Do you believe that the law has provided any benefits to North Carolina? Do you believe it should be repealed root and branch? If not, in what ways would you like to alter it?
It is clear that HB2 has not provided any benefits to North Carolina and should be repealed in its entirety. Once again, the General Assembly has legislated discrimination into North Carolina law. Many North Carolinians believe that this legislation was a “solution in search of a problem.” There are no provisions in the law that direct its enforcement, which signals that it is unnecessary. We continue to lose money because of HB2, as more businesses, institutions and other governments refuse to do business with us.
4. 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—or, alternatively, give municipalities the ability to raise minimum wages within their jurisdictions?
Yes. I support building a stronger economy that works for all. I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to earn a living wage; for the millions of people earning the minimum wage, that is not a reality. I support raising the minimum wage to a living wage that supports our state’s labor force and their families. Every worker should be a paid a fair wage, and as the economy grows, wages should grow with it.
5. In a similar vein: beyond the bathroom issue, HB 2 also overrode local antidiscrimination ordinances, which has become something of a pattern in recent years, with the legislature preempting local governments from passing laws it doesn’t like. Do you believe the state too often intrudes into local affairs? Why or why not?
Yes. Over the past six years, the North Carolina General Assembly has passed legislation that usurp the authority of local governments to enact policies/ordinances that closely impact residents of their jurisdictions. Locally elected officials are closer to and better understand the needs of those whom they serve.
6. What, in your view, is an ideal salary for a beginning teacher? If it is more than the $35,000 currently being earned by beginning teachers in North Carolina, how would you work with your colleagues to increase teacher pay?
Teachers, like every person working in North Carolina, deserve to make a living wage. The estimated living wage for a one adult/one child household in North Carolina is $45,614 and we should strive to meet that goal through prioritizing spending on public education over private school vouchers and corporate tax breaks. We entrust our teachers with shaping the future generations of North Carolina. Their success determines our collective success and they deserve to be compensated accordingly.
7. A federal appeals court struck down the state law requiring voter ID and containing other voting restrictions. Do you agree or disagree with that decision? Please explain your position.
I am pleased that the courts overturned this unjust law. As representatives of the people we, should work to ensure unfettered access to the ballot box and advocate for full participation in our democracy. I support election policies and procedures that provide for fair and balanced representation at all levels of government.
8. In recent months, two public servants in the Department of Health and Human Services have accused administration officials of minimizing the risks that Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds pose to nearby water wells. Do you believe the state has taken the proper safeguards to protect drinking water?
I do not believe the state has been forthcoming in communicating the very real health risks associated with Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds. Moreover, a state agency disseminated erroneous and confusing information to residents living near coal ash ponds in some locations. As public servants, our primary job is to protect the public. We have top state officials that failed to do that under pressure from corporate interests. As a result, they put people’s health at risk.
9. The current administration has been frequently criticized by environmental advocates over things like, for instance, the cleanup of Jordan Lake. Do you believe these criticisms are warranted? In what ways do you believe the state’s current environmental policies have succeeded or failed? What would you like to improve?
Republican leaders have continued to ignore our state scientists’ reports and recommendations on long-term plans to protect our natural resources, opting instead to invest in short-term gimmicks like solar bees. Now, leading scientists, like coastal geologist Stanley Riggs and epidemiologist Megan Davies, are leaving their posts because our leadership continues to ignore their work and their professional recommendations. We have a network of talented, experienced scientists that have been studying and monitoring North Carolina’s ecological challenges. It’s time to listen to them and act on their advice.
10. Democrats have called for an expansion of Medicaid, which would provide health coverage for 244,000 North Carolinians. Would you support such a move? Why or why not?
Yes. have sponsored and co-sponsored legislation supporting Medicaid expansion. North Carolina should expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to provide access to affordable healthcare to as many as 500,000 residents. Moreover, Medicaid expansion will provide needed resources to rural hospitals, allowing them to remain in operation. It is estimated that this expansion will generate nearly 30,000 jobs. Several Republican-led legislatures have opted to provide this coverage for their citizens.
11. Similarly, in recent months two large insurers have decided not to issue policies on North Carolina’s Affordable Care Act exchange, which puts those on the individual market in something of a precarious situation. What do you believe the state can or should do to improve its citizens’ health care?
Accepting Medicaid expansion is a good start to off-setting the blow of losing two private insurer options in North Carolina. But, for those that don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare, the stress of rising health insurance costs continue to weigh on them. As state leaders, we have a number of options to address this issue. We can implement a state health insurance marketplace as so many other states have chosen to do, which would give us the ability to ensure long-term financial stability in the health insurance exchange system and more control over marketplace oversight. We can also invest in local public health clinics, moving people away from emergency rooms for basic care and promoting preventative care which, over time, would lead to a healthier population and lower healthcare costs for the state and for families.
12. Name three things you would change in the current state budget and, if your changes would free up money, what your spending priorities would be.
I would eliminate funding for private school vouchers, freeing up 144 million dollars over the next ten years for public school funding for increasing teacher pay, Pre-K slots, textbooks and school construction;
Eliminate funding for “special projects” specific to certain districts to provide funding for salary increases for state employees;
Revise/reform the tax system to include fairer assessments to large corporations to provide tax relief to the working poor and middle-class families – reinstating the Earned Income Tax Credit, the Child Care Tax Credit, and the Small Business Tax Credit and the Sales Tax Holiday.
13. 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.
As an advocate for public schools, I did not fully support the concept of charter schools, mainly because I felt that more concentration should have been given to correcting issues within the existing system; and that there should be more oversight than was provided at the inception. As an advocate for public education for all of North Carolina’s children, I have learned that unfortunately, zip codes often reflect the level of quality of education due to the economic viability of some of our communities.