Name as it appears on the ballot: Linda Coleman
Campaign website: www.LindaforNC.com
Phone number: 919.673.3152
Years lived in state: At least 60 years
What are the three most important issues facing North Carolina? If elected, how will you address those issues? Please be specific.
To improve public education in North Carolina, we need to begin by restoring the cuts made and providing ample resources and support to our teachers and students in the classroom. I believe teachers should be certified to ensure our students are receiving the best quality education and remain competitive. Compensation should be consistent with qualifications and certifications and remain competitive with the national average; this includes giving those with master’s degrees a fair raise and continuing to increase experienced teacher’s pay. In addition, pay should not be measured by student success. Retention has become difficult because of lack of resources, support, morale, and funding. We also need to reinstate the 100 school cap on charter schools. Their role should be to serve as laboratories for best practices in education which should in turn be transferable to the public education system, but instead they are currently taking tax payer subsidies and placing them in to “school choice” vouchers. I also believe we need to repeal the A-F letter grade for schools. I feel there are alternative ways for us to support our schools who are failing and not judge them solely on student performance.
b. Economic Development:
North Carolinians deserve a leader who will work with our Pre-K through 12, community college and university systems to ensure that we are training our 21st century workforce. Through using the Lt. Governor’s position as a liaison between education and economic development we can have a diverse economy that attracts companies who pay livable wages throughout our state.
We need to expand Medicaid. By not doing so we are losing millions of dollars to other states who have opted to expand. Through expansion we could be attracting over 40,000 good livable wage jobs to our state. We could protect our rural hospitals and over 500,000 of our most vulnerable.
What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as lieutenant governor? (This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.)
a. As a former classroom teacher, Wake County Commissioner, three term elected House member and Director of the Office of State Personnel-with over thirty years of public service experience, I feel my record reflects my ability to build consensus and get things done. As the only candidate in this race with both legislative and executive experiences I understand the importance of building relationships to move priorities forward. Serving as a Wake County Commissioner I championed a five hundred-million-dollar bond referendum to build schools. As a three term elected House member I held up the budget to give State Employees the largest raise in over 16 years. As the Director of the Office of State Personnel I know how to use the office of the Lt. Governor as a liaison between education and economic development through the positions on the State Board of Education and the State Board of Community Colleges.
How do you define yourself politically, and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
As a Democrat, I have been a lifelong champion of progressive causes. Throughout my career I have been a strong advocate standing up for working and middle class families, education and opportunity. My Democratic views are supported by the accomplishments we made while I served on the Wake County Commission, in the General Assembly and as the Director of State Personnel under Governor Perdue. We increased teacher pay and construction funding on the county level; I worked with my colleagues in the House to give the first minimum wage increase in over 7 years, pass the earned income tax credit to put more money in the pockets of families and held up the state budget to give State Employees the largest raise in over 16 years. My past achievements are shown in my present campaign platform because so much of what we were able to accomplish has been unraveled under the current leadership. I will always stand on the side of middle class and working families.
What is your vision for creating jobs in North Carolina? How would you advise the governor to help people who want to start small businesses and protect people who already do?
My vision for creating jobs in North Carolina is found in strengthening our education system. North Carolina has one of the best college and university systems in the country- we call it our “Crown Jewel”. Through strengthening our 58 community colleges throughout the state by partnering with high schools and local businesses we are providing workforce training to our 21st century workers. In addition, by restoring the cuts made to our university systems we are expanding our reach in research and development which also attract businesses to our state. I would advise the governor to continue promoting Pre-K through 12 education, encourage innovation and creativity through entrepreneurship, provide incentives to those who want to start small businesses- like reinstating the former tax credit where small business owners could deduct the first $50,000 earned from their taxes. I would also advise transparency with the Labor Commissioner to ensure workers are adequately classified to protect current small business owners from hiring only contractors.
How do you plan to distinguish yourself as lieutenant governor and show that the office isn’t merely a staging ground for a future gubernatorial run?
As a former classroom teacher, Wake County Commissioner, three term elected House member, HR director for the Community College system, Wake Tech Community College Board Trustee and Director of the Office of State Personnel I see this position as being all encompassing of my experiences. The role of the Lt. Governor is more important and suited to my background than most know, as it has the ability to serve as the liaison between education and economic development across the state.
On what issue(s) and/or action(s) do you most sharply disagree with Governor McCrory? What would you have done differently?
I most sharply disagree with Governor McCrory with his obstructionist refusal to expand Medicaid, his environmental policies-his handling of the Coal Ash spill, deregulations leading to fracking and his proposals for offshore drilling. I also disagree with his refusal to stand up against the cuts made to our education system. As Lt. Governor, I will advocate for Medicaid expansion to protect our most vulnerable and attract livable wage jobs, use my position on the State Board of Education and State Board of Community College to champion adequate funding for education and work to have the regulations we need to protect our environment.
What has Governor McCrory done that you consider the most praiseworthy?
The most praise worthy thing Governor McCrory has done is veto the legislation in favor of allowing magistrates to opt out of performing same sex marriage due to religious beliefs. As an elected official and public servant you take an oath to uphold the law and we need to hold our elected accountable to the law.
Name at least one policy (or more) that gives you cause to stand up to the consensus of your own political party, and explain why.
I will always stand up to the consensus of my party if I do not feel that all North Carolinians are fairly benefited. For example, as a freshman legislator I held up the state budget when my party was in the majority because I did not feel State Employees were getting the raises they deserved.
In early January, the current lieutenant governor sidetracked a report on charter schools by the State Board of Education, claiming that findings about wealth and racial imbalances were “too negative.” Please defend that action, or explain why you disagree with it.
I completely reject the idea that government officials should be able to pick and choose what statistics to disclose to the citizens of North Carolina based on how negative or positive the results are. It is especially disconcerning if those statistics come from a tax payer funded report. I will always be transparent with my constituents, even if the truth damages my legislative priorities. North Carolina deserves better, especially when it comes to making hard decisions about the students in our great state.