Deb McManus | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Candidate for N.C. House, District 54

Deb McManus 

Candidate for N.C. House, District 54

Name as it appears on the ballot: Deb McManus

Full legal name, if different: Deborah Hawkins McManus

Date of birth: 12/21/1956

Campaign website: Debfor54.com

Occupation & employer: office manager & bookkeeper, Carolina Family Practice; Chatham County Board of Education member (3rd term)

Email: uncdeb@earthlink.net


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

Education funding, economic development/jobs, environment, individual rights being threatened and healthcare are some of the most important issues.

My top three priorities are to restore education funding, particularly funding for pre-school programs for at-risk students; to create incentives for green energy development to grow our economy; and stop further intrusion into people's personal rights. By that I mean legislation controlling or restricting a women's choice and intruding into the relationship between a physician and a patient as well as stopping unnecessary amendments to our constitution that restrict or reduce individual rights.

2. What issue or issues made you want to run for this office?

The main issue that made me want to run for House was funding cuts to education. As a third-term board member I have seen drastic cuts to education in the last few years but particularly in the past year. Cutting funding to North Carolina's nationally recognized preschool program completely disregards the research on the value of preschool and will end up costing us more in coming decades. In addition to the impact on education, cutting funding that pays for teachers and other state employees just compounds our budget problems as more people are out of work, drawing unemployment, and not spending on goods and services. I believe education is interwoven with economic development and that without a strong public school system, community college system, and university system, we will not be able to attract new industry to our state.

3. What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective in the U.S. House? This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.

I have demonstrated effective leadership as a member and leader on the Chatham County Board of Education. I have been responsive to the needs and wishes of my constituents. My fellow board members have elected me chair or vice-chair every year until this year when I had already announced my intention to run for House. School board members from across the state elected me to serve on the Board of Directors for the NC School Boards Association and leadership at the NCSBA selected me to serve on their Federal Relations Networking Committee. I have fought and won some controversial battles since joining the board in 2002. To highlight just a few, I fought to make our school system facilities smoke-free in my first year on the Chatham Board, I fought to get hands-on science kits in our schools to improve science education, I fought to get interpreters in each of our schools with a Spanish-speaking population, and I fought to get laptops for our students so every high school student would have the same access to technology. I believe in building consensus but I also have good instincts about when to fight and when to seek compromise. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to be heard and I believe in treating everyone with respect. I received many compliments on my leadership and demeanor following some very emotional public hearings in our district last year. My opponent has the endorsement of three school board members that have served with me. All three had campaigns that were funded his grassroots political organization but I feel confident that they would each speak positively about my performance as a board member.

4. District 54 spans all of Chatham County, a socio-economically and ethnically diverse area. How do you plan to connect with and represent its residents? As you've campaigned, what common themes are you hearing from voters?

District 54 includes almost a quarter of Lee County's population too. The part of Lee that is in District 54 is very similar to parts of Chatham though.

From 1979 to 1985 my husband and I lived in the northern part of the county. He was in school at UNC and I worked in Chapel Hill. I know what it feels like to be a part of Chatham and a part of Orange. This is true for many of north Chatham's residents. We have now lived in Siler City, in the western part of Chatham, for 24 years. My husband and I have operated a small, solo-practitioner, medical practice in Siler City. My children both attended and graduated from Chatham County Schools. Both played sports and we made friends with families from all over the county. I have volunteered in the schools since 1990. I understand people from all parts of this district and I have connected with and represented Chatham County on the Board of Education since 2002.

The most common themes I have heard while campaigning have been the need for more state support for education, the need for better jobs, opposition to fracking, and opposition to the Republican attack on women and women's issues. Recently, racial justice has also become a prominent issue.

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

I support Governor Beverly Perdue's plan to temporarily increase the state sales tax by 3/4 of a cent, with the revenue going to education. If we don't appropriately fund education now, we will pay for it in the future when we can't attract industry, we have more dropouts, we have more unemployable, and we need more prisons.

6. What do you see as the primary sources of our state's budget problems? What measures should the General Assembly use to address them?

Like most states, North Carolina has experienced a loss of revenues during this extended recession. This is coupled with an increase in education and healthcare costs. Student numbers have continued to increase and the numbers eligible for Medicaid and Medicare have also increased. The recession began in 2007 and appears to have bottomed out in 2010 but states will continue to feel the effects for some time. So state budgets will continue to make cuts to jobs and this will create a drag on a national recovery. State that use austerity programs as a solution to their budget woes will likely see a slower recovery.

I believe that the state must continue to invest in education and in green energy. We have to continue to fund the things that will make North Carolina appealing to industry. It's time to restructure our tax codes and look at closing some corporate tax loopholes. We also need to continue the strategies of the Justice Reinvestment Act in an effort to curb our rapidly growing prison costs. From 2000 to 2008, North Carolina's prison population increased 25 percent from 31,581 to 39,326 individuals. During that same period, the Department of Correction (DOC) budget increased 43 percent, from $918 million to more than $1.31 billion. We can't afford to continue this way.

7. If you want to decrease state education spending please explain what you would cut? If you want to increase state education spending tell us what areas would see more money?

I do not want to decrease state education spending. I would invest in an expanded preschool system for at-risk children and staff development for teachers. NC is adopting the new Core Curriculum Standards and there is a need for teachers to receive training on the new curriculum and assessments. Technology funding has been reduced and technology will be used for all testing in the very near future. Without appropriate technology equipment and bandwidth, this will be a disaster.

I also believe that if we are to keep good teachers, they are seriously overdue for a raise.

8. What is your position on Amendment One?

I will vote AGAINST Amendment One, and speak against it when I am campaigning. My mother is a Cherokee Indian and my father is white. When they married, it was illegal for a person of color to marry a white person. No one should be denied the right to marry a person of their choosing. Of course, I also opposed this amendment because it would deny many children and many domestic partners the benefits that they now already have.

9. Do you support women's reproductive rights, including the "right to choose" as set out by the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade? Do you support the recently passed state requirements on ultrasounds and waiting periods for women seeking an abortion? Do you support attempts to eliminate funds for Planned Parenthood?

I absolutely support Women's reproductive rights, including the "right to choose" as set out by Roe v. Wade. Lillian's List of North Carolina endorsed me and is supporting my campaign because of my position on this issue. I vehemently oppose the state requirements on ultrasounds and waiting periods for women seeking an abortion, and I support funding Planned Parenthood, because they provide many health services for many women who would not otherwise receive treatment.

My husband is a solo-practice family physician who does volunteer services for our local Family Violence & Rape Crisis Center and he regularly counsels young women about sexual activity, birth control or unplanned pregnancy. We do not believe it is appropriate for government to come between a physician's and a patient's relationship. Good comprehensive medical care depends on the sanctity of that relationship. Nor is it the place of government to allow employers to opt out of providing comprehensive reproductive healthcare to women, to decide what measures women must endure to receive the healthcare option that they have chosen, or to decide that contraceptives are not a necessary medical option. I will fight vehemently against any legislation that seeks to undermine Roe v. Wade.

As a nine-year school board member, I have opposed the "abstinence until marriage only" curriculum and I have supported comprehensive sex education. I have spoken publicly about the ineffectiveness of the "abstinence" curriculum.

10. Would you support Gov. Perdue's call for a 3/4 cent increase in the sales tax or another revenue measure to restore cuts or cover other costs? Would you support a revision of the state tax code that led to an increase of revenue?

Yes, I do support Gov. Perdue's request and a revision of the state tax code. I addressed both in questions #5 and #6.

11. What is your position on capital punishment and the Racial Justice Act?

I oppose capital punishment. Not only do I struggle with the morality of capital punishment, I struggle with the number of death row cases that have been overturned recently due to either new evidence or improved analysis of evidence. I can't imagine having a relative wrongly convicted and executed. Capital punishment sentences are also very expensive to the state. The number of appeals that the state pays for, and the number of people involved in those cases, makes it more expensive to execute a prisoner than to incarcerate him or her for life.

I also struggle with the costs the state is incurring with the Racial Justice Act but I do still believe that it is necessary in North Carolina. I believe we should address some issues that allow some use of evidence that is less representative of actual cases. This is creating a burden on our court system and great cost to the state but, unfortunately, there is still a need for the Racial Justice Act in North Carolina.

12. Both parties have been criticized for overreaching during redistrictings. Would you support an independent commission drawing the lines in the future?

Yes I would! We should have done this a long time ago.

  • Candidate for N.C. House, District 54

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