David Young | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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David Young 

Candidate for State Treasurer

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Name as it appears on the ballot: David Young
Party: Democrat
Date of Birth: 48 years old
Campaign Web Site: www.DavidYoung2008.com
Occupation & Employer: Real Estate Investments and Travel Services / Self Buncombe County Commissioner
Years lived in North Carolina: All my life.



1. What do you see as the most important issues facing the Treasurer’s office? If elected, what are your top three priorities in addressing those issues?

I believe the State Treasurer’s first responsibility is to protect the state’s financial integrity and the soundness of the state’s pension assets. Beyond that, however, I believe there are many opportunities for the State Treasurer to use the influence of the state’s assets and resources to provide opportunities for economic development (focused on research and development leading to job creation), affordable housing (possible publicprivate partnerships), and community college and university scholarships through the revenue generated by the escheats fund.

I hope to use the office to promote and succeed in all of these important areas.

2. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the issues you’ve identified? Please be as specific as possible in relating past accomplishments to current goals.

As a businessman for over 20 years, I know how to work hard, manage people and money, set goals and priorities, and provide quality service to satisfied customers. As a County Commissioner for fifteen years, I have taken a leadership role in writing and managing the budget for North Carolina's seventh largest county that now totals over $245 million per year. My work at the local government level also gives me a solid understanding of the work done by the North Carolina Local Government Commission, chaired by the State Treasurer, to ensure the financial integrity of city and county governments. And, my experience as president of the NC Association of County Commissioners and on the UNC Board of Governors gives me a unique statewide perspective on a myriad of issues important to North Carolina.

3. How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

I am a proud Democrat. It has been my honor to be the Democratic nominee in four successful elections to the Buncombe County Commission. I was proud to be the Democratic nominee for Congress in 1998 running against then-Rep. Charles Taylor.

I believe the Democratic Party is truly the party that represents the best interests of all people.

A good education and a good paying job with quality benefits must be the foundation from which our efforts begin. My career in public service has focused primarily on these areas.

As a Buncombe County Commissioner for over 15 years, our county has improved from having some of the worst school facilities in the nation to having some of the most modern. When the rehabilitation program began, our county was on the NEA's Dirty Dozen list. Today, our students have up to date classrooms and equipment. Our top supplements for our teachers have gone from a .5% maximum 15 years ago to a maximum of 10.5% today.

I am proud to have received the endorsement of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE).

As past chair of the Asheville/Buncombe Economic Development Commission and as a local elected official, I understand the importance of quality job creation and retention in building growing and thriving communities. I have been proud to be involved in numerous efforts over the years that have created thousands of jobs in Buncombe County and the surrounding area.

4. The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle and North Carolina. Please point to a specific position in your platform that would, if achieved, help further that goal.

In the next 20 years, the population of North Carolina is estimated to grow by 50%...that’s like the entire population of South Carolina moving to North Carolina. Much of that growth will be in the Triangle. We must have smart and balanced growth that meets the needs of old and new residents alike. Planning now for quality and affordable housing, accessible health care, education infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, including a comprehensive approach to mass transit, and parks/open space must be the focus of our attention and action.

As a major player in the area, state government must be a part of the process…and a part of the solution. I will work closely with other state government officials, citizens and their local elected leaders to be a part of a long-term and well thought out solution that best meets the needs of a first class metropolitan area.

5. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

I will not stand by and allow anything to either put the state pension fund or the state’s financial integrity at risk. If that means taking a position contrary to current public opinion, so be it.

6. If these issues haven’t been addressed above, would you please comment on:

a. State investment policies: How should they be changed, if at all, from the practices under the current Treasurer?

b. State spending: Will you attempt, as Treasurer, to influence the pace and composition of state spending? If so, how?

c. State borrowing: What policy changes will you recommend on bond issues and other forms of state and local debt?

I believe the State Treasurer’s first responsibility is to protect the state’s overall financial integrity and the soundness of the state’s pension assets. Independent reports show that the state’s pension fund is currently slightly overfunded thereby able to meet all of its current obligations. The job of the next State Treasurer must be to continue to wisely manage current investments and future contributions to ensure future financial soundness. Because the state offers a defined benefit and any unfunded liability must be paid (through general revenue or some other source of funding), safety and good return on investment must remain the top priority.

I believe the State Treasurer has a responsibility to engage the legislative branch and other members of the executive branch on important financial considerations as well as programmatic issues contemplated in the state budget. As a leader (now President) of the NC Association of County Commissioners, I worked closely with members of the General Assembly to enact comprehensive Medicaid funding reform to ease the escalating burden on county governments.

In addition, the State Treasurer has a great “bully pulpit” to advise government leaders and to inform and educate all North Carolinians on important issues.

Especially in this time of economic uncertainty, the state must see that our citizens have good access to financial resource information to make good short- and long-term decisions. The State Treasurer’s office should serve as a focal point for that information. As a member of the State Board of Education and the State Board of Community Colleges, the Treasurer must work to see that financial literacy is a priority. And as Chair of the State Banking Commission, the State Treasurer must provide the leadership to see that all North Carolinians are treated honestly and fairly in their financial dealings.

As State Treasurer, I will take direct action where I can and use the bully pulpit allowed me as a member of the Council of State to encourage others to act, as well.

As a County Commissioner for over 15 years and as the current president of the NC Association of County Commissioners, I know first hand how local governments struggle to finance basic infrastructure. I will be an informed advocate in the executive and legislative branches for local governments. I will work closely with local governments to identify methods to help them pay for growth and counsel them on successful models in other communities.

7. To what extent, if any, should the Treasurer’s policies on pension fund investments be geared to strengthening the North Carolina economy and/or addressing specific North Carolina issues?

My #1 priority is safety and return on investment first and foremost. I believe there are great opportunities in our overall investment strategy and specifically in the Treasurer’s alternative investment authority to provide opportunities for economic development, quality housing, health care, and enhancements in educational opportunities. With this authority, investment opportunities in NC-based businesses and emerging industries should be a priority.

Where there are promising opportunities to invest in green industries and others with potentially long-term and sustainable jobs for North Carolinians, we should be willing to do so, and I will work to identify those opportunities.

8. The current Treasurer’s practice of raising campaign contributions from the firms and executives handling state pension fund investments has been widely criticized. Will you pledge not to accept contributions from such sources? Please describe your approach to campaign fund-raising now and, if you’re elected, in the future? What steps will you take to insulate the Treasurer’s office from political conflicts of interests and the appearance of such conflicts?

I would support a comprehensive review of all state campaign finance laws and will abide by any amendments enacted by the General Assembly.

Throughout the campaign, I have released statements to the public and the press announcing hosts and sponsors for my fundraising events. Over 96% of my contributions are from North Carolina residents who are interested in qualified and experienced people serving in our state government and providing honest and dedicated service to the people of North Carolina. I’m proud to have their support and will work every day to live up to the confidence they have shown in me.

I believe and support as transparent a campaign finance system as is practical and would have no problem whatsoever operating under that system.

9. Should public employees have the right to bargain collectively in North Carolina?

I appreciate very much the need for public employees to have a clear avenue to address issues such as pay, benefits, and working conditions. I am not prepared (and I do not believe North Carolina citizens are prepared) to support full collective bargaining for public employees. However, I fully support a structured process to regularly meet and confer with public employees and that promotes meaningful communication and participation.

10. As member of the Council of State, you would have input on the issue of the death penalty, including the execution protocol, which was taken up by the Council last year. Do you feel qualified to vote on such issues? If so, how would you vote on the execution protocol and other death penalty matters that may come before the Council? And is the Council of State an appropriate body to deliberate these issues?

I do feel qualified to vote on this issue should I be called upon to do so. I believe that a legislative moratorium or the current defacto moratorium should remain in place until such time as the execution protocol issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of the courts and that we are confident that sufficient standards are in place to ensure that the death penalty is rendered and administered in a fair and just manner.

I believe the legislative and judicial branches are the more appropriate venues for this issue, but as I said previously, I feel qualified to vote on this issue should I be called upon to do so.

  • Candidate for State Treasurer

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