Name as it appears on the ballot: Linda D. Coleman
Campaign website: www.LindaforNC.co
Phone number: 919.673.3152
Years lived in the state: 60+ years
In your view, what are the three most pressing issues North Carolina faces? If elected, what will you do to address these issues?
The three most pressing issues facing North Carolina are the dismantling of our education system, lack of economic development and disregard for our environment. As Lt. Governor, and President of the Senate, member of the State Board of Education, State Board of Community Colleges and as Chair of the eLearning Commission I would work with colleagues to restore the cuts that have been made and provide ample resources in our classrooms from Pre-K through our University System. As a member of the Economic Development Board, I would bridge the gap between our business community and our education stakeholders to ensure we are providing the training that recruits and attracts good livable wage jobs to our state. Moreover, as a member of the Energy Commission I would make sure we are protecting our environment while also meeting our energy needs in the 21st century.
The most contentious issue of this year—and this election—has been HB 2, especially in light of the NCAA’s decision to pull its championships from the Tar Heel state. Do you believe that the law has provided any benefits to North Carolina? Do you believe it should be repealed root and branch? If not, in what ways would you like to alter it?
HB2 has not provided any benefits to North Carolina. It is a harmful piece of legislation that has used taxpayer’s money to codify state-sponsored discrimination. I will continue to demand a full repeal and once elected will work with Senate and House leadership for its repeal.
The current administration has been sued by a number of media organizations—including the INDY—following disputes over access to public records. Do you believe the governor’s office and administration are obligated to be more transparent with the public? If elected, how would you work to expand transparency?
Yes, I feel all elected officials should be transparent with the public. If elected, I would work to expand transparency by expediting Freedom of Information requests.
Would you support an expansion of civil rights for LGBTQ people, along the lines of state Representative Chris Sgro’s Equality for All Act, which would essentially extend statewide nondiscrimination protections? Why or why not?
Yes. All North Carolinians deserve a state that is inclusive and accepting. We need policies that extend protections to everyone, not just select groups and we should not be supporting legislation that enshrines discrimination in to our laws.
In recent months, two public servants in the Department of Health and Human Services have accused administration officials of minimizing the risks that Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds pose to nearby water wells. Do you believe the state has taken the proper safeguards to protect drinking water?
No. The state has some of the most qualified environmental experts and we need to allow them to conduct their jobs without interference or intimidation. We need leaders who are going to be transparent and advocate for policies that protect our citizens and environment.
The current administration has been frequently criticized by environmental advocates over things like, for instance, the cleanup of Jordan Lake. Do you believe these criticisms are warranted? In what ways do you believe the state’s current environmental policies have succeeded or failed? What would you like to improve?
Yes, these criticisms are warranted. The state’s current environmental policies have failed. As Lt. Governor, I would like to see us come together to have greater protections of our environment, such as protecting us from fracking, offshore drilling and future coal ash spills. We need to restore buffer zones and hold polluters like Duke Energy accountable.
Teacher pay is another contentious issue in state politics. While lawmakers point to pay hikes in this most recent budget cycle, critics point out that North Carolina is still in the bottom 20 percent nationally. They argue that lackluster pay is causing teachers to leave the state? Do you believe these claims have merit? If so, how would you stem the flow of teachers leaving North Carolina?
I absolutely believe these claims have merit. Over the past four years, we have watched the dismantling of our education system and teachers have been left behind. This administration has cut Master’s and Board Certification Pay, while also eliminating the Teaching Fellows Program- which helped many of our brightest educator’s leave college without mounting student debt. As Lt. Governor, I would work with colleagues to restore the cuts that have been made and institute state level raises- not one time bonuses or raises shifted to the backs of our counties-in the way of county supplements.
Democrats have called for an expansion of Medicaid, which would provide health coverage for 244,000 North Carolinians. Would you support such a move? Why or why not?
We must expand Medicaid now. By not expanding we have endangered the lives of over 500,000 eligible North Carolinians, we have over 600 rural hospitals on the verge of closing their doors and our economy has lost millions- through sending our money to other states who have expanded Medicaid. We have also lost over 40,000 good, livable wage jobs across the state.
Similarly, in recent months two large insurers have decided not to issue policies on North Carolina’s Affordable Care Act exchange, which puts those on the individual market in something of a precarious situation. What do you believe the state can or should do to improve its citizens’ health care?
As Lt. Governor, I would work with colleagues to repeal SB4, which was passed and implemented in 2013. This bill, strictly prohibited our Commissioner of Insurance from creating a marketplace that was not only competitive but in the best of interests of North Carolinians. As a state, we need to work with the Federal Department of Health and Human Services to bring back state control, increase competition, and reduce costs.
Beyond the bathroom issue, HB 2 also overrode local antidiscrimination ordinances, which has become something of a pattern in recent years, with the legislature preempting local governments from passing laws it doesn’t like. Do you believe the state too often intrudes into local affairs? Why or why not?
The severe overreach from the General Assembly is unacceptable. While local government is a creature of the General Assembly, we need to trust local communities to govern themselves and build working relationships between our municipalities and the state.
As lieutenant governor, what would you do to help those who have been left behind by the economic recovery? How has the current administration helped or hurt those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder?
As Lt. Governor, I would use my positions as the President of the Senate, on the State Board of Education, State Board of Community Colleges, Energy Commission and the various other boards to always advocate for a stronger North Carolina. The Lt. Governor, has the unique role in both the legislative and executive branches and can build relationships, work with the Governor, Superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction, Commissioner of Labor and others to enact policies that are going to strengthen our public education system and support our working families. The current administration has continuously hurt those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder by eliminating progressive policies like the Child Care Tax Credit, Earned Income Tax Credit, not expanding Medicaid, and passing legislation like HB2 which has cost us millions in expansion plans and development.
Why do you feel you are the best person to step into power should a circumstance arise in which the governor can no longer fulfill his duties?
I feel my experience as a classroom teacher, human resources manager, county commissioner, state legislator, and Director of the Office of State Personnel have uniquely qualified me as a leader. Those experiences of building consensus, working to achieve results and having the best interests of all before politics has not only made me qualified to be Lt. Governor, but should something happen, I am qualified to step in as governor.