In Durham and Orange, these legislative contests are no contests | Our Endorsements | Indy Week
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In Durham and Orange, these legislative contests are no contests 

Woodard, Michaux, Meyer, Foushee and Insko clear choices

House 31

We enthusiastically endorse Democrat Mickey Michaux, who knows more about the legislature than most of us have forgotten. At 84, he has held this district seat since 1983, and previously served a term from 1973 to 1977, when he was elected the first black representative in the legislature.

Michaux serves on key House committees that need a progressive voice: appropriations, education, elections, ethics and the judiciary: all areas where the GOP has eroded the public good.

A strong supporter of public education, he has sponsored bills to fund public schools, to increase the salaries of employees and to strengthen voting rights. He voted against bills that stripped local governments of their power and that expanded charter schools.

Compare that political experience with Todd Conard’s, which is to say, none. A Republican, Conard says he will “do everything” he can to “reign in the federal government and preserve the power of the sovereign state of North Carolina.” He wants to curb the number of H1B visas that are held by highly skilled foreign workers so “that our people are hired first.” Well, “our people” would be hired first if they had the education and training for those jobs. As for education, he wants mandatory classes on the Constitution (we thought that was U.S. History) and that the Bill of Rights be placed in a prominent place in every school “for students and teachers to see” (because clearly that document is hidden in a star chamber.)

There’s no contest in this contest.

House 50 (Orange and Durham)

Recently Chapel Hill Democrat Graig Meyer earned the ire of obsolete conservative lunkhead Rush Limbaugh for writing about the inherent advantages of being born white in America. If your political principles offend Limbaugh, you’re probably doing something right, and Meyer is. As the former director of student equity in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, Meyer is a thoughtful progressive committed to fairness. He understands the need for small business development and a strong public school system. His opponent, Chapel Hill pastor Rod Chaney, is running a plucky, “compassionate conservative” campaign but lacks substance. He’s also fond of quirky, bizarre signage, including one where a grinning Chaney pulls on a pair of latex gloves, intimating a rectal exam for the state budget. This may appeal to someone, but we’re not sure who.

House 56 (Orange)

What more can be said about Rep. Verla Insko? No disrespect to Dave Carter, a Republican with more guts than ideas, but Insko is a longtime Chapel Hill progressive with a record of defending the poor, the environment, public schools and badly needed health-care reforms. Seeking her 10th term in the N.C. House, Insko has perhaps never been as marginalized as she is in the GOP-dominated legislature at the moment, but she remains the best choice for this liberal district. And while Carter, a small business consultant and the husband of Mary Lopez Carter who is running for state senate, talks about fair pay for teachers, he defends a Republican-led legislature that—aside from one election year raise that all but ignored the plight of the state’s most experienced teachers—has been very, very bad for North Carolina public schools. We’re picking Insko.

Senate 22 (Durham)

Mike Woodard is our progressive choice.

It seems like Mike Woodard is rarely home. He attends nearly every fish fry and barbecue and Rotary this and Kiwanis that and constituent meet-and-greet. And it’s not for show. Woodard is genuinely committed to the residents of his district.

We enthusiastically endorse Woodard, a progressive and former Durham City Councilman, who is seeking his second term.

He has strong environmental and populist credentials. He opposes fracking and offered an amendment that would have prevented Duke Energy from passing the clean up costs of its coal ash spill onto ratepayers. He introduced a bill to provide tax credits for small businesses, other than retail stores and restaurants,for creating jobs.He supported expanding Medicaid, opposes voucher programs.

His budgetary priorities include restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit (repealed by the GOP), expanding funding for K–12 public education, reducing university and community college tuition, and increasing funding for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. He has been supportive of same-sex marriage, collective bargaining and the Moral Monday movement.

His endorsements cover the progressive waterfront: The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People, Durham People’s Alliance, National Association of Social Workers, N.C. Association of Educators, N.C. League of Conservation Voters, N.C. State AFL-CIO, Sierra Club, N.C. Chapter and the State Employees Association of North Carolina.

His opponent is conservative Republican Herman James Joubert, who lives in the North Carolina-Virginia border town of Milton, population 166. His website is ominous, with a nod to “our national heritage of Christian values” and a quote from Isaiah 59:19 prominently displayed: “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.”

Senate 23 (Orange and Chatham)

Sen. Valerie Foushee has a burnished record as a progressive leader in Orange County. After two decades in the Chapel Hill Police Department, Foushee served on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education and the Orange County Board of Commissioners before taking a state House seat in 2012. She was later appointed to fill the term of retiring former Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, where, like many of her Democratic colleagues, she was relegated to a supporting role in a GOP-dominated legislature. But throughout her career in public office, Foushee has been right more often than not on the big issues. She’s a strong public schools supporter and pro-choice advocate who will oppose fracking in her district and stand up for fair government. Her opponent, Republican Mary Lopez Carter, is running an anti-tax, deregulation campaign that oversimplifies the complicated workings of a still lagging economy. We’re picking Foushee.

  • Woodard, Michaux, Meyer, Foushee and Insko clear choices

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