What do you think about the ongoing discussions about turning the Dix property into a park and how would you help resolve the issue?
I have been here for four years and I know that property has a great deal of emotional value to the city. I don’t know if I completely understand it. I’m always advocating for parks. I love parks, but at the same time, it seems to be an awfully large space that only serves the purpose of being a park. I would hope that it would have some multi use or multi-functional type facilities available as well. At the same time though, I don’t know how much of a state issue that is so I’m a little surprised that it would be a question for a senate candidate.
How do you feel the relationship between local government and state government can be improved?
I think there are a lot of commonalities between local and state government. I think we’re all interested in making our personal lives; our families’ lives safer, a better place to live and work. And I think that as long as we keep that in mind we can come together on a whole lot more common terms than we do currently. I think there gets to be far too much political gamesmenship involved when it comes to expressing whose got the power and I think that as long as you don’t care who gets the credit for something you can solve a lot of really important issues. So for me, we have to make sure that we stay focused on what the common objectives are overall between those two entities.
The General Assembly has followed the nation into big partisan divides. What do you think about the political situation in the legislature and what would be your approach to lawmakers with opposing views?
So long as we stay divided, we’re never going to solve problems. We’re never going to get to the root cause and we’re never going to put an action that will eliminate the root cause. You can’t work as a team when you’re divided. From a business perspective, I’ve worked on numerous teams and whenever you come in with an agenda you are never going to solve the problem completely. And there will typically be unintended consequences as a result. You have to make sure you’ve got an objective that a whole team can agree on very early in the process, otherwise you are never going to solve the problem.
How do you view the Moral Monday protests?
I think there are a lot better uses of that time and energy. I don’t know that there’s a whole lot that’s being gained from being exposed on the news relative to those causes. I think it goes back to if you don’t have a relationship built with the people who are the decision makers then I don’t think that protesting is the right way to go about solving those problems. You’ll always come in from a very defensive position and that’s not the way to solve a problem. So in the case of the Moral Monday protesters, I don’t see that time and energy being well spent.
What is your position on a Medicaid expansion in North Carolina?
In my personal experience, I’m the eldest of nine children and we had a need for a hand up when I was growing up. But we never relied on it to be there for us continuously. It was something that was there for an emergency, and I think that that whole aspect of public services is completely changed from when I grew up. I just don’t quite understand why it is so many people have become, not only dependent on it, but have grown accustomed to these services. I think that they’re there for a reason. I think that they’re intended to be there for a very good reason, but I think that reason has become skewed and abused over time.
Other than what we’ve already talked about, what is the biggest issue facing Raleigh and Wake County in the state legislature?
I think teacher salaries are a huge issue. I think that teachers are completely underpaid and undervalued and I don’t understand why they continue to be political bouncing ball. I don’t know why that has ever gained prominence. I’m from Detroit and we had these issues when I was growing up so nothing has really changed. And that’s the really sad part. If we had just taken all the time and energy that was spent over the last 40, 50 years and turned that into actions to help teachers increase not only their salaries but their value to the community and to the students, we would be a whole lot further along.