Name: Michael Slawter
Occupation: Currently a stay-at-home dad
Years in District: At little more than eight years
Amendment 1: Against
What is the central issue of this election?
First and foremost is the problem we have with our state budget. Spending is out of control. We aren’t putting the money where it needs to be. As the dad of two daughters, education is lacking the money it needs. When it gets down to hiring and firing, we’re looking at it in a dollar frame of mind versus educating our kids’ frame of mind. There’s something wrong with that. There’s money that can be taken from other places, things that can be downsized. You’ve got a state motor pool fleet. You have a car that sits there and maybe gets used 45 to 60 days a year. Where could we use that money better? Could we not give that money that we spent on the automobile towards funding something else for the classroom? Could we not spend the money towards keeping those teacher assistants there for the teacher who need it?
We don’t need 24 kids in a classroom with one teacher. I worked for state government for eight and a half years at the Secretary of State’s office and, honestly, there’s more money spent on wasted things. We’ve got people even in the unit and the division I worked in – there wasn’t enough work for the people on our team to stay busy. There was more than one time when folks were sent home and given time off simply because we didn’t have enough to do. It’s a waste of money when you’re funding positions that aren’t fully needed, so I think our budget needs to have a hard look at it.
What are the specific issues facing your district?
First of all, I think we’ve got, in this part of Wake County, we’ve got a very large number of immigrants – especially in Wendell, Knightdale, and Zebulon – folks that I think are afraid to report themselves as working, people who are afraid that if they show up or end up at the wrong place or the wrong time they’ll be deported. We can look back a few weeks ago to the three young 20 year olds that were arrested in the General Assembly and voiced the fact that they were not here legally, that immigration and customs enforcement people- those people were on the top of their list. I think that’s one of many things.
Another thing that we have a problem with is transportation and traffic flow. I saw an article recently that said there’s a discussion about going ahead and repaving I-540 and portions of the road isn’t that old. Why do we need to be repaving something and spending the tens of thousands, if not millions, of dollars repaving something when we have other locations? If you’ve ever driven down Highway 64 East, the Neuse River Bridge, going from Raleigh into Knightdale – there’s more potholes on it, more bumps, more cracks. Transportation issues are another thing. Mainly, I think that just the folks who are here and working and contributing to the community, that we need to send them away- I don’t think that’s a good idea. Help them do and achieve what they need to have in order to become legal citizens. Show them the right way to do it instead of having the run and hide. We’ve got tons of farmland, we’ve got tons of people out here who use the land and work the land and I think that’s just something we need look at- helping folks instead of turning them away.
Why should your constituents elect you?
I’ve had 13 years of working in the government. I’ve seen it on three different levels. I worked for the City of Raleigh; I worked for the federal government at the Social Security Administration, and, like I said previously, I worked eight and half years with the Secretary of State’s department. Not that I’m necessarily any more qualified than Darren Jackson or Don Mial, but I’m younger, I’m 37 years old, I’ve got education from North Carolina State University in public policy and leadership in the public sector, I think they can go a long way. It’s not that I think that either of the other two are out of touch, it’s just that Mr. Jackson’s been there a few years, I have nothing against him, but I think we need some new leadership down there.
We need something that can turn around the General Assembly and cross the party lines – reach across the aisle and sit down together and make bipartisan decisions, not “this is best for the Democrats” or “this is best for the Republicans” – to put it quite plainly, screw that. We need to do what’d best for the people. Again, I’ll go back to the part that I’m a dad of two kids, eight and four months old, I’ve lived in North Carolina since 1979, I moved here when I was four years old, and progressively the state has only gotten worse. I shell out between four and six hundred dollars out of our pocket, my wife and I, to buy supplies for the school system for Wake County for my daughter’s class. There’s something wrong with that. If you’ve got 18 kids and the teacher is asking all 18 sets of parents to do that- where’s the money that’s supposed to be going to those supplies going? Some accountability needs to be had, and I would like to be the one to be there to ask the tough questions about where the money’s going, what’s happening to it, why we’re spending so much foolish money on things.
If you look at what Arthur Wood came up with a few weeks ago with the van pool issue with the Department of Transportation, there’s no way, in my opinion, that nobody at the Department of Transportation didn’t know what was going on- that’s what they did and the didn’t come clean, they need to go.
What are the biggest accomplishments and failures of the NC House during the last two years?
I think the biggest failure, by far, is this mess about Amendment One. Honestly. What people do in the privacy of their own home is their business. If two men want to be together, why is that any business of the state? When has the state gotten to the point where we need to decide what constitutes relationship? If two women want to be together- the same thing. Intrusion into private lives is where I think the House and [House Speaker] Tillis and his fellow individuals have gone wrong. Not just him, but the Senate side of things too. We don’t need to be establishing on what defines a marriage. I don’t know what makes me more irritated- that, as far as getting into people’s private lives, or taking money out of the classrooms and derailing early childhood education.
It doesn’t need to be a peeing match between the legislature and the governor. There needs to be a time when they sit down and work together. What’s going to happen is, by chance, is the Democrats take control back and McCrory is elected governor. We’re going to have the same thing on opposite sides, we’re he’ll veto everything they send him. Those are the two things that I think are the most irritating as far as failures.
As far as accomplishments, I honestly think cutting some of the wasteful spending has been a good idea- they’re on the right track for that, but I think more could be done.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Probably more than anything would be taking my daughter, oldest daughter, out and giving her money and letting her do what she wants to do with it. It kind of, well I wouldn’t say kind of, it does irritate my wife, it ticks my wife off, and I don’t tell my wife all the time when I do it, but I find pleasure in spoiling my oldest daughter some – whether it’s a trip to Build-A-Bear, Disney Store, or something like that. On a personal level, if it’s anything for me, I love to spend the majority of my time on a fishing pier with my feet in the sand with a line in the ocean.