Name: Lee Sartain
Occupation: Education Policy Specialist
Years in District: Two and a half years
Amendment 1: Against
What is the central issue of this election?
I think it is jobs and education. The reality is the job market continues to lag, but on the flip side, people also want high quality schools for their kids and they want great community colleges and universities, which the legislature over the last two years has spent almost all their time basically trying to disintegrate all the work we’ve done.
What are the specific issues facing your district?
I think they mirror the state. The reality is my district looks a lot like the rest of North Carolina. People there are still looking for employment- high unemployment is still on their mind. But, at the same time, I think things like the Wake County school board race is on their mind and they want to make sure every school in the state has a high quality teacher in the classroom. They also want to make sure that if they’re in a situation where they do need to enter a new field of employment, they want to make sure that they can go to community college and the university and actually be able to afford it, which, right now, it’s becoming more and more out of reach for most North Carolina families.
Why should your constituents elect you?
Well, for one, when we look at the slate of candidates, I’m the only one with any education experience. I spent the last almost seven years now working in different education projects, from teacher reform to technology. The state right now spends 56 percent of its budget on education, so you really need someone in there that actually understands it. But, at the same time, I’ll be the only candidate that has actually given any details on sort of how they’d turn around the economy with economic development programs and having a clear voice on this discourse.
What are the biggest accomplishments and failures of the NC House during the last two years?
Well, in so far as accomplishment, I’m not completely sure I can give too much kudos. I do compliment the Republicans on the speed at which they passed the budget through the House – it didn’t really get tied up and they did actually have a budget done by July 1, which is the beginning of the fiscal year. But, the reality is, that once the budget was over, they started wading into every social issue they possibly could- from women’s reproductive rights to marriage- things that really divide North Carolina. I don’t think that’s an accomplishment- I think that’s a huge, huge failure.
On top of that, you have the failure of redistricting, which will more than likely now be held up in court for several years. But, you know, I think this year will be exciting – we’re going to bring back some sanity to the legislature and I think North Carolina wants that to happen.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I don’t know if I’d say anything is a guilty pleasure at this point, but any time I get a little free time, I do try to relax and go out with friends. But, on the side, I do swim on a master’s swim team and, even though it’s in the middle of the campaign season, the national championship is in Greensboro this year in late April. So, hopefully I’ll be able to go swim a little bit in that – not that I think I’ll win anything but at least it’ll be fun to get away for a couple of hours.