Name: Yvonne Holley
Occupation: Just retired. Was a senior procurement/contract specialist with NC Department of Administration
Time in District: All my life
Amendment One: Against
What is the central issue of this election?
Education, jobs, and fairness. I feel like the cuts have not been fair and equitable. A lot of the budget cuts and things they’ve done, they’ve hit certain areas of the community harder than they have others. We need to be more fair and everyone needs to take their fair share of the hit.
Jobs, because people are unemployed and not working and are hurting really bad now. This has been a long-term hurt, and we need to do what we can to try to stop the loss of jobs in the state.
Education because I feel like education is really critical to what has made this area unique. We’ve got world class universities, we’ve got the Research Triangle Park, yet we are forty-ninth in expenditures for K through 12. That’s unacceptable when you’re talking about an area that thrives on education and educated people.
We need to spend more time educating. We also need to use the community college system. A lot of people have gone back to get training and job training with the community college system and the community college systems are straining right now to provide the services, so we need to support that base and help with retraining. Especially in areas with the new technologies that are out there- the green technologies. We need to spend more emphasis on some of the new creative ways where the market is trending to than teaching the same old things.
I know a number of community college students that can’t get classes because they’re always full and it’s hard to get what they need in order to graduate because the resources have been cut so much. Yet, it’s at a time when we have more students trying to go to school than ever before. I think we need to make that investment in our young people and adults who are trying to reinvent themselves because they were laid off and are trying to get more savvy or more education so they can proceed in the 21st century.
What are the specific issues facing your district?
It is the unemployment issue and the education issue in particular. District 38 is the most diverse district in the whole county. It has the largest Latin population, the largest Asian population, it has a nice chunk of African-Americans, and a white population. Socially and economically it’s quite diverse as well. To top it all off, there’s the Capital Boulevard Corridor and the New Bern Avenue Corridor which are also businesses. What I’d like to see is for us to try and help some of the businesses as well, so that they’d be in the position to hire- to offer some incentives and to do what we can to promote these businesses so that they can be in a position to hire and help a lot with the job problems that we are having now.
Why should your constituents elect you?
I am full and of this community. I have committed myself to this community. When I say I’ve been here all my life, I’ve been here most of my life. As a young adult, I was in D.C. for a while, but I’ve been back since ’85, but I was born and raised in Raleigh. I have committed myself to this community. I have sat on boards, I’ve worked one on one, I’ve worked with a lot of people in the community as a health advocate, educational advocate, I’ve done youth development, and I’ve been president of the Raleigh Wake Citizens Association, which is a political advocacy group.
I have played an important role. Like, right now, a company trying to help save the YWCA- I used to be a board member and a volunteer there for years and it just hurts me that we’ve lost another major institution that has had a major impact in my community. I’m trying to fight to see if we can keep it open or at least these programs over here.
I’m sincere, I’m dedicated. I know the difference between a leader and an elected official. A leader is someone who has compassion and feels the community- that is me. I’m an average person doing what I can to help my community. I was born and raised here. I was influenced by notable African-Americans during a real difficult era in time- Mayor Clarence Lightner, I lived next door to Harold Webb, my father (J. D. Lewis) he was with WRAL broadcasting for years, John Winters. I was raised in that era where I saw these people work and put work ethic in their care and love of the community to implement a lot of changes and we need that again.
We don’t need everyone out for themselves. We need people who are really concerned about the people and that’s what I am- I’m concerned about the people in this community and I want to do what I can to help them. I have some skills I can bring to the table. My 25-plus years with state government- I know how the money is spent. I understand the processes of how government works. I’ve seen the good and the bad. I’d like to do more of the good and help eliminate some of the things that aren’t good. I feel like it’s my passion and my commitment to the community that gives me the edge- and my experiences, my broad base, long term experiences.
What are the biggest accomplishments and failures of the NC House over the last two years?
Well, I think that they’ve spent so much time promoting a political agenda as opposed to really governing the people- doing responsible governing. It’s all about, “Oh, well we made some promises that we need to fulfill to a few people, so we have to do things.” I think that’s part of what the marriage amendment is. I think the assault against the [North Carolina Association of Educators] and the dues thing was personal, mean-spirited and it was an assault. They’re spending time doing that kind of thing as opposed to really looking at how they can help people in the district during a hard time.
I think they’re holding back on working with people cooperatively and they’re just single-focused. It’s a detriment to the community because now is the time more than ever where we need to be working together. I’m really, really trying to think of something that I thought was positive accomplishment, and they’re may be a few, but I think they’re so overrun by the negative that it’s a wash.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Actually, you know, I get a lot of pleasure in helping people. I really do. I get a lot of pleasure when I see someone get the “light bulb” moment, especially young people. When they get the light bulb moment, that they’ve caught on to something that maybe I’ve said or that I’ve done, then it made it all worthwhile. I get pleasure out of that. As far as a hobby, I swim, I’ve recently gotten involved in some history, but I don’t have anything I’d call guilty.